In The News for June 7 : Will the Bank of Canada hike its interest rate?

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 June 7 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The Bank of Canada is set to announce its interest rate decision this morning as speculation about another rate hike heats up. 

Recent economic data suggests the Canadian economy is running hotter than forecasters had expected, raising concerns about the inflation outlook. 

Last week, Statistics Canada reported real gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 3.1 per cent in the first quarter, while a preliminary estimate suggests it expanded again in April. 

Economists — many of whom expected high interest rates to send the economy into a recession by now — say the recent data suggests the central bank may have to hike interest rates again to get inflation back to the two per cent target.

The Bank of Canada, which paused its rate-hiking cycle earlier this year after raising its key interest rate to 4.5 per cent, has signalled it would hike rates again if the economy continued to run too hot or inflation proved to be sticky. 

Canada’s annual inflation rate has steadily declined since last summer but ticked up slightly to 4.4 per cent in April. 

Also this …

One of the architects of the law that governs Canada’s prison system says it’s understandable people want revenge on killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo, but that’s not what the prison system is designed for.

Mary Campbell also says it is regrettable the Correctional Service of Canada has not been more transparent in how it handled the matter — which the law allows it to be.

Campbell, a lawyer who retired from her role as director-general of the corrections and criminal justice directorate in the Public Safety Department in 2013, said that without question Bernardo’s crimes were horrific. But she adds, broadly speaking, the corrections system has a mandate to rehabilitate offenders.

Politicians from all parties and levels of government have decried Bernardo’s transfer from a maximum-security penitentiary to a medium-security prison in Quebec. 

News of the transfer was confirmed last week by the lawyer for the families of two of his victims, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, who want him sent back.

Both teenage girls were kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by Bernardo in the early 1990s. He was also convicted of manslaughter in the death of Tammy Homolka, who died after being drugged and sexually assaulted. Tammy was the 15-year-old sister of Bernardo’s then-wife Karla Homolka, who was released in 2005 after completing a 12-year sentence for her role in the crimes committed against French and Mahaffy. 

Bernardo admitted to sexually assaulting 14 other women. He has been declared a dangerous offender and is serving a life sentence. 

Bernardo has spent 30 years under maximum security, which Campbell said is a long time for any offender. 

And while she understands why people want to see him kept there, she said the criteria for transferring an inmate to another penitentiary “is not based on revenge.”

“We, as a country, gave up torture quite awhile ago, ” she said in an interview Tuesday. “And we’re pretty critical of other countries that engage in torture.”

And this too …

Resuscitating trauma patients on the floor of emergency rooms and examining sick people on stretchers instead of beds has become an increasingly tough reality for staff, says the head of a group that represents ER physicians across the country.

Dr. Michael Howlett of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) said overcrowding in emergency departments has worsened as patients who feared going to hospital during the pandemic are now sicker and many more people no longer have family doctors.

“Seeing patients in hallways, on floors for resuscitation, is a real crisis in health care in a first-world country,” said Howlett, who is also chief of emergency medicine for Lakeridge Health based in Oshawa, Ont.

A series of open letters recently released by doctors at Surrey Memorial Hospital in British Columbia has drawn national attention to overcapacity in ERs and on wards where patients can’t be transferred for further care due to a lack of beds.

Howlett said health-care investments must include more training spots for ER doctors and nurses because recruiting international graduates alone will not meet Canada’s need for a high number of health-care providers, including in those specialty areas.

He said quick fixes without any long-term strategies will continue the cycle of “hallway medicine” that Canadians are becoming accustomed to, and will not solve ongoing problems that are plaguing ERs in various parts of the country.

The CAEP has long called for recruitment of more ER doctors and nurses. Last July, it wanted premiers gathered in Victoria to discuss health care to put resources for overstretched ERs on its agenda.

Howlett said provincial and territorial leaders meeting again next month in Winnipeg should prioritize staffing in ERs and work on how they will spend a combined $196 billion in federal funding announced in February by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. All provinces, except Quebec, have agreed to a deal in principle for the money that will be shelled out over a decade. 

Canada is short about 2,500 emergency room doctors so retaining and recruiting them is critical, he said.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

OCALA, Fla. _ A Florida woman accused of fatally shooting her neighbour last week in the violent culmination of what the sheriff described as a two and a half year feud was arrested Tuesday, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.

Susan Louise Lorincz, 58, who is white, was arrested on charges of manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault in the death of Ajike Owens, who was Black, Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement.

Authorities came under pressure Tuesday to arrest and charge the white woman who fired through her front her door and killed a Black neighbour in a case that has put Florida’s divisive stand your ground law back into the spotlight.

Woods said that this case was not a stand your ground case but “simply a killing.”

When interviewed, Lorincz claimed that she acted in self-defence and that Owens had been trying to break down her door prior to her discharging her firearm. Lorincz also claimed that Owens had come after her in the past and had previously attacked her. Through their investigation _ including obtaining the statements of eyewitnesses _ detectives were able to establish that Lorincz’s actions were not justifiable under Florida law, a statement from the sheriff’s office said.

Owens, a 35-year-old mother of four, was killed in the Friday night shooting, Woods said. The women lived in the rolling hills south of Ocala, a north Florida city that is the heart of the state’s horse country.

Woods had said Monday that detectives were working with the State Attorney’s Office and must investigate possible self-defence claims before they can move forward with any possible criminal charges. The sheriff pointed out that because of the stand your ground law he can’t legally make an arrest unless he can prove the shooter did not act in self-defence.

The sheriff said Owens was shot moments after going to the apartment of her neighbour, who had yelled at Owens’ children as they played in a nearby lot. He also said the neighbour, who has not been identified by police, had thrown a pair of skates that hit one of the children.

Deputies responding to a trespassing call at the apartment Friday night found Owens suffering from gunshot wounds. She later died at a hospital.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

KHERSON, Ukraine _ Residents of southern Ukraine braced for a second day of swelling floodwaters on Wednesday as authorities warned that a Dnieper River dam breach would continue to unleash pent-up waters from a giant reservoir.

Officials said waters were expected to rise further following Tuesday’s dramatic rupture of the Kakhovka dam about 70 kilometres to the east of the city of Kherson, but were slowing.

Ukraine accused Russian forces of blowing up the dam and adjoining hydroelectric power station, which sits in an area Moscow has controlled for more than a year. Russian officials blamed Ukrainian bombardment in the contested area, where the river separates the two sides.

Residents sloshed through knee-deep waters in their inundated homes as videos posted on social media showed rescue workers carrying people to safety and an aerial video of waters filling the streets of Russian-controlled Nova Kakhovska on the eastern side of the river.

In Ukrainian-controlled areas on the western side, Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of Kherson Regional Military administration, said in a video that water levels were expected to rise by another metre over the next 20 hours.

“The intensity of floods is slightly decreasing; however, due to the significant destruction of the dam, the water will keep coming,” he said.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence, which has regularly issued updates about the war, said the Kakhovka reservoir was at “record high” water levels before the breach. While the dam wasn’t entirely washed away, the ministry warned that its structure “is likely to deteriorate further over the next few days, causing additional flooding.”

Together with the power station, the dam helps provide electricity, irrigation and drinking water to a wide swath of southern Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

On this day in 2013 …

CFB Edmonton was the first Canadian military base to raise a Gay Pride flag as a symbol of Armed Forces principles of inclusiveness, equality and dignity.

In entertainment …

Poet, playwright and musician Vivek Shraya has contemplated the layers of white supremacy in her work, but on a new project, she’s getting far more personal about the subject.

“Colonizer,” a duet with Juno Award winner Donovan Woods, is an upbeat love song that reflects on the “the complexity of being in an interracial relationship” told from two perspectives.

Shraya, who is of South Asian descent, says the song was drawn from her experience as an artist who explores the impact of racism while also being in a romantic partnership with a white person for the past 11 years.

The track is a half-acoustic, half-electric pop-rock effort that exchanges perspectives on the subject between Shraya and Woods, who appears as a stand-in for Shraya’s partner.

She originally asked her partner to appear on the track to sing his side of their real-life relationship, but he “emphatically turned down” the request.

So she turned to the raspy-voiced Woods, the folk and country singer whose previous duets include tracks with Canadian pop singer Ralph, Australian musician Ziggy Alberts and Alabama native Natalie Taylor.

The new song appears on a newly released deluxe version of Shraya’s debut album “Baby, You’re Projecting,” which originally came out last month via Mint Records.

Did you see this?

NANAIMO, B.C. _ Connor McTavish and three companions had just planned to explore the site of a shipwreck in Alberni Inlet on Vancouver Island last month when he spotted something in the corner of his eye _ a two-metre-long sixgill shark.

McTavish and fellow divers Garrett Clement, Danton West and Matteo Endrizzi had made the trip from Nanaimo, B.C., to explore the waters of the inlet in late May.

McTavish was first to spot the animal and used a flashlight and hand signals to alert the others to the shark. It was hard for them to believe, he said.

He briefly lost sight of the creature but it reappeared around the wreck. The group trained cameras on it, capturing what they say is incredibly rare footage of a shark not usually seen in shallower waters.

“Thank goodness I’m diving with some phenomenal videographers because they were able to get that unreal footage,” McTavish said. “Otherwise, nobody would have believed us or myself that, you know, there’s this incredibly rare shark to see.”

The footage was recently posted to Clement’s Uncharted Odyssey YouTube channel.

McTavish said his initial nervousness and fear of the shark soon turned to wonder at the creature’s beauty.

“It was just going through my mind that I’m in its element. It’s just curious. (You) just stay calm and watch it pass and that’s the best I can do,” he said. “For the most part, it was just amazement and wonder how beautiful the thing was.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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