Ontario election day, waiting for Hoggard verdict : In The News for June 2

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 2 …

What we are watching in Canada …

It’s election day in Ontario.

Voters will head to the polls after a provincial campaign that saw parties battle over the best approaches to affordability, health care and infrastructure.

Polls have suggested the Progressive Conservatives led by Doug Ford are poised to form a second majority government. Ford has campaigned largely on his party’s promises to build Ontario highways and hospitals, and other measures he’s touted as job-creators, and in recent days has held limited media availabilities.

The New Democrat and Liberal leaders have both been presenting themselves as the only alternative to Ford’s Tories and haven’t outright said they will work together in the event of a Progressive Conservative minority.

It could be the last election as NDP leader for Andrea Horwath, who’s making a fourth run for the premier’s office after her party made gains in 2018 to form the official Opposition in provincial parliament.

Her party has proposed speeding up pharmacare and dental care plans for Ontarians, hiring more nurses and teachers, covering mental health and birth control and raising the minimum wage to $20 in 2026.

The Liberals, meanwhile, are hoping to rebuild after a devastating defeat four years ago that saw their caucus reduced to just seven seats after spending more than a decade in government.

Leader Steven Del Duca, who lost his seat in 2018, is also facing an apparently tight race in his own riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge, though he says he intends to stick around as leader regardless of the result.

The Liberal platform includes plans to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for school attendance, remove provincial HST on prepared foods under $20 and boost the minimum wage to $16 per hour by next year.

The Ontario Greens have proposed free mental health coverage, reaching net zero emissions by 2045 and protecting 30 per cent of Ontario lands and water by 2030.

That party led by Mike Schreiner is hoping to expand its caucus of one seat – won by Schreiner in Guelph four years ago – and has been eyeing a potential opening in Parry Sound-Muskoka.

Also this …

Jurors are to resume deliberations today in the sexual assault trial of Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard.

The jury began deliberating Tuesday afternoon after receiving detailed instructions from the judge on the legal principles it should apply in weighing the evidence.

Hoggard, the lead singer of the band Hedley, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one of sexual interference, a charge that refers to the sexual touching of someone under 16.

Prosecutors allege he violently and repeatedly raped a teenage fan and a young Ottawa woman in separate incidents in the fall of 2016.

They also allege he groped the teen after a Hedley show in Toronto in April 2016, when she was 15.

The defence contends the complainants had consensual sex with Hoggard and lied about it later to cover up their embarrassment after being rejected.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

FAIRFAX, Va. _ A jury’s finding that both Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, Amber Heard, were defamed in a long-running public dispute capped a lurid six-week trial that also raised questions about whether the two actors can overcome tarnished reputations.

The verdict handed down Wednesday in Virginia found that Depp had been defamed by three statements in an op-ed written by Heard in which she said she was an abuse victim. The jury awarded him more than $10 million. But jurors also concluded that Heard was defamed by a lawyer for Depp who accused her of creating a detailed hoax surrounding the abuse allegations. She was awarded $2 million.

Depp had hoped the libel lawsuit would help restore his reputation. However, legal and entertainment experts said that both actors’ reputations have been damaged by ugly details about their brief marriage that came out during the televised trial watched by millions.

“Both of them will work again, but I think it will be a while before a major studio will consider them `safe’ enough to bet on,” said former entertainment lawyer Matthew Belloni, who writes about the business of Hollywood for the newsletter Puck. “The personal baggage that was revealed in this trial was just too icky for a studio to want to deal with.”

The case captivated viewers who watched gavel-to-gavel television coverage, including impassioned followers on social media who dissected the actors’ mannerisms, their wardrobe choices and their use of alcohol and drugs.

Both performers emerge with unclear prospects for their careers.

Depp, a three-time best actor Oscar nominee, was a bankable star until recent years, with credits including playing Capt. Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. However, he lost that role and was replaced in a “Fantastic Beasts” spinoff.

Heard’s acting career has been more modest, and her only two upcoming roles are in a small film and the upcoming “Aquaman” sequel due out next year.

Eric Rose, a crisis management and communications expert in Los Angeles, called the trial a “classic murder-suicide,” in terms of damage to both careers.

“From a reputation-management perspective, there can be no winners,” he said. “They’ve bloodied each other up. It becomes more difficult now for studios to hire either actor because you’re potentially alienating a large segment of your audience who may not like the fact that you have retained either Johnny or Amber for a specific project because feelings are so strong now.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

PARIS _ Across France, more than 300 people have reported being pricked out of the blue with needles at nightclubs or concerts in recent months. Doctors and multiple prosecutors are on the case, but no one knows who’s doing it or why, and whether the victims have been injected with drugs _ or indeed any substance at all.

Club owners and police are trying to raise awareness, and a rapper even interrupted his recent show to warn concertgoers about the risk of surprise needle attacks.

It’s not just France: Britain’s government is studying a spate of “needle spiking” there, and police in Belgium and the Netherlands are investigating scattered cases too.

People from Paris, Toulouse, Nantes, Nancy, Rennes, and other cities around France have reported being pricked with a needle without their knowledge or permission. The targeted individuals, who are mostly women, show visible marks of injection, often bruises, and report symptoms like feeling groggy.

France’s national police agency says 302 people have filed formal complaints about such needle pricks. Several police investigations are ongoing in different regions, but no suspect has been arrested yet, no needle has been found and the motive remains unclear.

No victims have reported sexual assault; one said he was robbed, in Grenoble in April, according to Le Monde newspaper. Two people tested positive for GHB, and they might have ingested the drug in a drink, according to an official with the national police agency. GHB, a powerful anesthetic used by predators seeking to sexually abuse or assault victims, can be detected in the urine only for 12 hours, the police official said.

In the U.K., Parliament issued a report in April on drink and needle spiking in pubs and nightclubs after a sudden surge in such incidents last year. It said police reported about 1,000 cases of needle injection across the country around October 2021, when droves of students returned to campuses after coronavirus restrictions eased.

A series of similar incidents involving people pricked with needles at nightclubs, a soccer game and during the Belgian Pride parade have been reported in neighbouring Belgium. Last month, the Brussels prosecutor’s office opened two investigations following complaints from women who said they were jabbed during the pride parade in downtown Brussels. Organizers of the march said in a statement they were informed of several cases and urged potential victims to get checked at hospitals.

On this day in 1917 …

Fighter pilot Billy Bishop became the first Canadian airman to win a Victoria Cross. The 23-year-old from Owen Sound, Ont., was honoured for a solo attack on a German airfield during the First World War. Bishop was credited with downing 72 German planes during the war.

In entertainment …

TORONTO _ Vancouver-raised author Pik-Shuen Fung has won this year’s Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Fung was awarded the $60,000 prize for “Ghost Forest” at a ceremony in Toronto on Wednesday.

The title from publisher Strange Light follows the story of an unnamed protagonist grappling with the death of her father.

Fung was born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, but she now lives in New York City.

Established in 1976, previous winners of the First Novel Award include Michael Ondaatje, W.P. Kinsella, Nino Ricci, David Bezmozgis, Andre Alexis and Madeleine Thien.

The prize is co-presented by Amazon and The Walrus.

The runners-up, who each receive $6,000, are:

– “Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead” by Emily Austin, published by Atria

– “Probably Ruby” by Lisa Bird-Wilson, published by Doubleday Canada

– “All the Quiet Places” by Brian Thomas Isaac, published by Brindle & Glass

– “Avenue of Champions” by Conor Kerr, published by Nightwood Editions

– “We, Jane” by Aimee Wall, published by Book*hug Press

Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ Members of Parliament unanimously voted Wednesday to clamp down on modern slavery by backing a bill requiring Canadian companies to ensure they are not using forced labour or exploiting child workers overseas.

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan ensured government backing for the private member’s bill that would make Canadian firms and government departments scrutinize supply chains with the aim of protecting workers.

O’Regan said the Liberals want the bill, introduced by a senator, to go to committee where it may be strengthened further with government amendments.

In a vote in the House of Commons at the bill’s second reading, it was backed unanimously by MPs, including the Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois, NDP and Greens.

Most private member’s bills _ introduced by individuals rather than the government _ do not receive ministerial backing, parliamentary time or proceed through all the parliamentary stages needed to become law.

The bill, tabled in the Senate by Sen. Julie Miville-Dechene, would make Canadian firms check that none of their products or components are made in sweatshops employing children or adults forced to work excessive hours for free or for paltry pay.

The senator has warned that a number of products sold in Canada, including coffee, cocoa and sugarcane, may be linked to child or forced labour. She has also warned about imports of products made in factories in the Xinjiang region of China where members of the Uyghur community have been forced to work.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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