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 March 10 …
What we are watching in Canada …
Statistics Canada is set to release its February labour force survey this morning.
The data will give an update on how the labour market is faring amid high interest rates and a slowing economy.
In January, the economy added 150,000 jobs, which was a higher number than expected, while the unemployment rate was hovering at five per cent.
RBC is forecasting employment ticked up slightly last month while the unemployment rate edged up to a “still very low” 5.1 per cent.
At its latest interest rate announcement, the Bank of Canada held its key interest rate steady but flagged that the labour market is still too tight.
The central bank is expecting higher interest rates to eventually weigh on employment and dampen wage growth.
Also this …
Airports and airlines are preparing for a surge in passengers ahead of spring break after the industry has struggled to meet explosions of demand at peak times over the past year.
As March break kicks off in Ontario this weekend, travellers hope to avoid a repeat of the snaking lines, lost luggage and hundreds of thousands of flight cancellations that beset them last summer and during the winter holidays.
March is busy for the airline industry as provincial spring breaks fall throughout the month.
Severe staffing shortages and high attrition rates were among the factors conspiring to snarl air travel as the industry began recovering from COVID-19 restrictions.
Last week, Toronto’s Pearson airport announced it would cap the number of flights during peak hours in order to “flatten out” daily crests and smooth the flow of passengers.
Statistics from travel data company OAG show that the percentage of on-time departures in Vancouver and Toronto fell well below that of airports in Seattle, Chicago and New York City last month, which former Air Canada chief operating officer Duncan Dee says “does not bode well.”
What we are watching in the U.S. …
WASHINGTON _ U.S. federal prosecutors are employing an unusual strategy to prove leaders of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group orchestrated a violent plot to keep President Joe Biden out of the White House, even though some of the defendants didn’t carry out the violence themselves.
As they wrap up their seditious conspiracy case, prosecutors are arguing that Proud Boys chief Enrique Tarrio and other leaders of the group hand-picked and mobilized a loyal group of foot soldiers _ or “tools” _ to supply the force necessary to carry out their plot to stop the transfer of power from Donald Trump to President Joe Biden after the 2020 election.
These “tools” helped Proud Boys leaders overwhelm police, breach barricades, force the evacuation of the House and Senate chambers and disrupt the certification of Biden’s victory, prosecutors allege.
Defence attorneys have dismissed the “tools” theory as a novel, flawed concept with no legal foundation. They argue that the Justice Department is trying to unfairly hold their clients responsible for the violent actions of others in the crowd of Trump supporters. Tarrio, for example, wasn’t even in Washington on Jan. 6.
The seditious conspiracy trial, which started nearly two months ago, is one of the most serious cases to emerge from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and comes as some conservatives continue to try to downplay the riot and push false narratives about what happened that day. Tarrio, who led the neofacist group as it became a force in mainstream Republican circles, is among the highest-profile defendants to stand trial yet and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of seditious conspiracy.
Seditious conspiracy _ a rarely used charge from the Civil War-era _ can be difficult to prove, especially when the plot was unsuccessful. And the group leaders on trial aren’t accused of engaging in violence themselves. Tarrio was arrested on separate charges two days before the riot.
Tarrio is on trial with Ethan Nordean of Auburn, Washington, who was a Proud Boys chapter president; Joseph Biggs of Ormond Beach, Florida, a self-described Proud Boys organizer; Zachary Rehl, who president of the Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia; and Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boy member from Rochester, New York.
Their trial could stretch into April. Prosecutors are expected to rest their case as soon as next week. Defence lawyers plan to present at least two weeks of testimony before jurors get the case.
What we are watching in the rest of the world …
HAMBURG, Germany _ A shooting at a Jehovah’s Witnesses hall in the German city of Hamburg killed eight people, apparently including the perpetrator, police said Friday. An unspecified number of other people were wounded, some of them seriously.
Police gave the figure on their website. There was still no word on a possible motive for the shooting on Thursday evening that stunned Germany’s second-biggest city. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a former Hamburg mayor, described the shooting as “a brutal act of violence.”
Police said during the night that they believe that there was only one shooter, and that this could be a person who was found dead in the building.
Investigators worked through the night to secure evidence. On Friday morning, forensic investigators in protective white suits could still be seen outside the building as a light snow fell. Officers placed yellow cones on the ground and windowsills to mark evidence.
Hamburg officials said there would be a news conference Friday afternoon to discuss details.
The scene of the shooting was the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall, a boxy three-story building next to an auto repair shop in the Gross Borstel district, a few kilometres from downtown Hamburg.
Police spokesman Holger Vehren said police were alerted to the shooting about 9:15 p.m. and were on the scene quickly.
He said that after officers arrived and found people with apparent gunshot wounds on the ground floor, they heard a shot from an upper floor and found a fatally wounded person upstairs who may have been a shooter. He said police did not have to use their firearms.
On this day in 2010 …
In order to attract attention to the European Union’s ban on Canadian seal meat, the parliamentary restaurant in Ottawa served seal meat for the first time in its 100-year history.
In entertainment …
LOS ANGELES_ Robert Blake, the Emmy Award-winning performer who went from acclaim for his acting to notoriety when he was tried and acquitted in the killing of his wife, died Thursday at age 89.
A statement released on behalf of his niece, Noreen Austin, said Blake died from heart disease, surrounded by family at home in Los Angeles.
Blake, star of the 1970s TV show, “Baretta,” had once hoped for a comeback, but he never recovered from the long ordeal which began with the shooting death of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, outside a Studio City restaurant on May 4, 2001. The story of their strange marriage, the child it produced and its violent end was a Hollywood tragedy played out in court.
Once hailed as among the finest actors of his generation, Blake became better known as the centre of a real-life murder trial, a story more bizarre than any in which he acted. Many remembered him not as the rugged, dark-haired star of “Baretta,” but as a spectral, white-haired murder defendant.
In a 2002 interview with The Associated Press while he was jailed awaiting trial, he bemoaned the change in his status with his fans countrywide: “It hurt because America is the only family I had.”
He was adamant that he had not killed his wife and a jury ultimately acquitted him. But a civil jury would find him liable for her death and order him to pay Bakley’s family $30 million, a judgment which sent him into bankruptcy. The daughter he and Bakley had together, Rose Lenore, was raised by other relatives and went for years without seeing Blake, until they spoke in 2019. She would tell People magazine that she called him “Robert,” not “Dad.”
Did you see this?
MONTREAL _ The Montreal Alouettes ownership issue has been resolved.
According to a source, the CFL has reached an agreement to sell the franchise and will make the formal announcement Friday at a news conference in Montreal.
The source requested anonymity as neither the league nor Alouettes have released details of the agreement.
But the move will come roughly a week after the CFL entered into an exclusive negotiation with Quebecor Inc. regarding ownership of the franchise.
Quebecor Inc.’s president/chief executive officer is Pierre Karl Peladeau, a Montreal businessman who has a reported net worth of US$1.9 billion.
The 61-year-old Peladeau is also a former leader of the Parti Quebecois.
It’s unclear whether Quebecor or Peladeau will be the principle owner of the franchise.
Quebecor Ltd. also has a sports and entertainment division that includes the Quebec Remparts and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, both of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, as well as the VideotronCentre, an indoor arena in Quebec City.
Quebecor Ltd. unsuccessfully attempted to get an NHL expansion franchise for Quebec City in 2015.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2023.
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