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Nova Scotia calls for action and military justice challenge: In The News for Oct. 16

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 Oct. 16 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Nova Scotia’s Premier want the federal government to step up.

Stephen McNeil says he is “extremely disappointed” by the federal response around the Indigenous lobster fishery in the southwestern part of the province.

McNeil says Ottawa needs to find a workable solution to the issue by sitting down with all sides in the dispute as soon as possible.

Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial fishermen have complained about a lack of response to violent incidents this week by the RCMP.

McNeil says the province will provide police with the “resources necessary” including manpower to keep public safety in the area.

Also this …

A court martial involving a Canadian Armed Forces officer accused of sexual assault is one of several trials in limbo over another challenge to the constitutionality of the military justice system.

Chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance issued an order last year placing responsibility for disciplining Canada’s military judges with a senior officer he appointed.

That order came as the military’s top judge was being court-martialled over allegations of fraud, before the case collapsed over questions of whether Col. Mario Dutil could receive a fair trial.

Three of Canada’s four military judges have since ordered four other courts martial to be stayed after determining that Vance’s order infringes on their independence, thereby undermining each service member’s right to a fair trial.

Vance suspended the order last month to prevent more cases from being affected, but has indicated that is only until the military’s appeals court weighs in on whether it is in fact unconstitutional.

Retired colonel and lawyer Michel Drapeau says the situation is yet another example of why he believes the military justice system is in need of an overhaul.—

What we are watching in the U.S. …

President Donald Trump was evasive Thursday night when pressed if he took a COVID-19 test before his first debate with Democrat Joe Biden as the two men squared off again, in a way, after their scuttled second showdown was replaced by dueling televised town halls several channels apart.

Biden, appearing nearly 1,200 miles away, denounced the White House’s handling of the virus that has claimed more than 215,000 American lives, declaring that it was at fault for closing a pandemic response office established by the Obama administration. Trump, meanwhile, was defensive and insisted that the nation was turning the corner on the virus, even as his own battle with the disease took centre stage.

Trump, less than two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19, dodged directly answering whether he took a test the day of the Sept. 29 debate, only saying “possibly I did, possibly I didn’t.” Debate rules required that each candidate, using the honour system, had tested negative prior to the Cleveland event, but Trump spoke in circles when asked when he last tested negative.

The presidential rivals took questions in different cities on different networks: Trump on NBC from Miami, Biden on ABC from Philadelphia. Trump backed out of plans for the presidential faceoff originally scheduled for the evening after debate organizers said it would be held virtually following Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

The town halls offered a different format for the two candidates to present themselves to voters, after the pair held a chaotic and combative first debate late last month. The difference in the men’s tone was immediate and striking.

Trump was Trump. He was loud and argumentative, fighting with the host, Savannah Guthrie, refusing to outright condemn the QAnon conspiracy group, testily declaring he would denounce white supremacy but complaining about the questioning — and eventually saying for the first time that he would honour the results of a fair election, but only after casting an extraordinary amount doubt on the likeliness of fairness.

Biden meanwhile, took a far different, softer, approach with audience questions. The former vice-president, who struggled growing up with a stutter, stuttered slightly at the start of the show and at one point squeezed his eyes shut and slowed down his response to clearly enunciate his words. At times his answers droned on.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Former Mexican defence secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who led the country’s army for six years under ex-President Enrique Peña Nieto, has been arrested on drug trafficking and money laundering charges at Los Angeles International Airport, U.S. and Mexican sources say.

Two people with knowledge of the arrest said Cienfuegos was taken into custody on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warrant. One of the people said the warrant was for drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

The DEA declined to comment Thursday night.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, wrote on his Twitter account that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau had informed him of the retired general’s arrest and that Cienfuegos had a right to receive consular assistance.

A senior Mexican official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to give details of the case, said Cienfuegos was arrested when he arrived at the Los Angeles airport with his family. His family members were released and he was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Cienfuegos served from 2012 to 2018 as secretary of defence under Peña Nieto. He is the highest-ranking former Cabinet official arrested since the top Mexican security official Genaro Garcia Luna was arrested in Texas in 2019. Garcia Luna, who served under former President Felipe Calderón, has pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges.—

On this day in 1978 …

Wayne Gretzky of the WHA’s Indianapolis Racers scored his first professional regular season point. He assisted on a goal by Rich Leduc in a 4-0 victory over the Quebec Nordiques.

In lifestyles …

Members of Ontario’s fitness industry say they’re eagerly awaiting the outcome of a provincial review of COVID-19 protocols for gyms and similar facilities.

The province’s associate medical officer of health said this week that the safety guidelines for gyms were being reconsidered after a large outbreak of the novel coronavirus linked to a cycling studio in Hamilton.

Jason Sheridan, the senior vice-president of operations at GoodLife Fitness, said he and his colleagues with the Fitness Industry Council of Canada would “love the opportunity” to work with public health officials to create new guidelines.

“We are very open to navigating this situation together with them and supportive of the direction we receive from these medical experts based on an evidence-based approach,” said Sheridan.

“We are open to learning about the concerns surrounding gyms and offering solutions that would allow us to reopen.”

More than a quarter of Hamilton’s active COVID-19 cases are connected to the SPINCO cycling studio outbreak.

ICYMI …

The Quebec government is promising $12 million in funding for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League during the COVID-19 pandemic, while another province with teams in the organization says it is not prepared to make a similar move.

The money from Quebec — part of a $70 million package for sports and leisure federations — will be divided among the 12 QMJHL teams in the province with each team getting $1 million.

But Nova Scotia will not be providing financial assistance for the Halifax Mooseheads and Cape Breton Eagles — who make up one-third of the Maritimes Division in the 18-team league.

Quebec’s move came Thursday, one day after the league suspended play in both of its Quebec divisions until at least Oct. 28. Six of the league’s 12 Quebec-based teams are in red zones, where organized sport is currently prohibited.

The league is continuing play in its Maritimes Division, with five of six teams. The Moncton Wildcats will not play for now because of New Brunswick government restrictions in the area

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2020

The Canadian Press

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