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Opposition leaders in the House and DND shopping: In The News for Sept. 28

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 Sept. 28.

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Bloc Quebecois chief Yves-Francois Blanchet are expected to take their seats in the House of Commons this week after being benched due to COVID-19.

The two opposition leaders were absent from the Commons last week as both were in isolation after contracting COVID-19.

Their formal replies to the Liberals’ speech from the throne will come as Parliament is set to debate new COVID-19 relief measures over the coming days and potentially pass them into law.

The government plans to set up a new pandemic-benefits regime under the umbrella of the existing employment insurance system and also create paid sick leave for those who can’t work due to COVID-19.

The NDP had made paid sick leave and a new benefits program as generous as the old one conditions for supporting for the Liberals’ throne speech.

So, while the Tories and Bloc Quebecois have said they’ll vote against the speech, the NDP’s support is expected to keep the minority Liberals in power.

Also this …

OTTAWA — The Department of National Defence’s top procurement official says the federal government is working overtime to buy billions of dollars worth of much-needed equipment for the Canadian Armed Forces, but that COVID-19 is slowing down some already delayed purchases.

Troy Crosby says his staff has been able to move ahead on a number of fronts despite the shift to remote work after the government ordered the majority of federal public servants to stay home back in March.

Officials are currently reviewing three bids received from fighter-jet makers hoping to sell up to $19 billion worth of new aircraft to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s while the Air Force officially unveiled the first of 16 new military search-and-rescue planes last week.

The Royal Canadian Navy also received the first of six new Arctic offshore patrol vessels from Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding in late July and some movement has been seen in the planned purchase of new engineering vehicles for the Army.

Yet Crosby acknowledges COVID-19 has slowed work on a number of other files, including many of the more than 100 procurement projects that were already reported behind schedule before the pandemic.

Crosby says the department is still assessing the actual impact of those slowdowns, but that they have been most felt in the actual production of new equipment such as warships and aircraft due to physical-distancing measures and other safeguards against COVID-19.

ICYMI (in case you missed it) …

TORONTO — Brett Kissel was among the big winners at Sunday’s Canadian Country Music Association Awards.

The singer from Flat Lake, Alta. took home three awards: male artist, fan’s choice and album of the year for “Now or Never.”

Kissel also shared a previously announced award for creative director on “Now or Never,” during an event on Saturday, which brought his tally this year to four.

Other big winners on Sunday included Dallas Smith as entertainer of the year. The frontman of rock band Default also won top-selling Canadian album for his solo country release “The Fall,” and top-selling Canadian single for “Drop.”

Tenille Townes was named female artist for the second consecutive year, while her song “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking)” won songwriters of the year and video of the year.

James Barker Band grabbed single of the year for their dancy chart-topping country-pop track “Keep it Simple.”

The Washboard Union walked away double winners, snagging the group or duo award for the third consecutive year. The Vancouver-based trio had already won roots album of the year for their release “Everbound” ahead of the broadcast.

And Tenille Arts, from Weyburn, Sask., won the rising star award.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for president and in his first year in the White House, according to a report Sunday in The New York Times.

Trump, who has fiercely guarded his tax filings and is the only president in modern times not to make them public, paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years.

The details of the tax filings complicate Trump’s description of himself as a shrewd and patriotic businessman, revealing instead a series of financial losses and income from abroad that could come into conflict with his responsibilities as president. The president’s financial disclosures indicated he earned at least $434.9 million in 2018, but the tax filings reported a $47.4 million loss.

The tax filings also illustrate how a reputed billionaire could pay little to nothing in taxes, while someone in the middle class could pay substantially more than him.

Also this …

NEW YORK — A federal judge has postponed a Trump administration order that would have banned the popular video sharing app TikTok from U.S. smartphone app stores around midnight.

A more comprehensive ban remains scheduled for November, about a week after the presidential election.

The judge, Carl Nichols of the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia, did not postpone that later ban.

The ruling followed an emergency hearing Sunday morning in which lawyers for TikTok argued that the administration’s app-store ban would infringe on First Amendment rights and do irreparable harm to the business.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

NEW DELHI — India’s confirmed coronavirus tally has reached 6 million cases, keeping the country second to the United States in number of reported cases since the pandemic began.

The Health Ministry reported Monday that 82,170 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, drove the overall tally to 6,074,703.

At least 1,039 deaths were also recorded in the same period, taking total fatalities up to 95,542 since the pandemic began.

New infections are in India are currently being reported faster than anywhere else in the world.

The world’s second-most populous country is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in coming weeks, surpassing the U.S., where more than 7 million infections have been reported.

Also this …

PARIS — Hospitals in the Paris and Marseille regions are delaying some scheduled operations to free up space for COVID-19 patients as the French government tries to stem a rising tide of infections, the health minister said Sunday.

As restaurants and bars in Marseille prepared Sunday to close for a week as part of scattered new virus restrictions, Health Minister Olivier Veran insisted that the country plans no fresh lockdowns.

Two Nobel Prize-winning economists proposed in Le Monde newspaper this weekend that France lock down its population for the first three weeks of December to allow families to get together safely for the end-of-year holidays and “save Christmas.”

In response, Veran said on LCI television, “We do not want to confine the country again. Several countries around us made other choices. We don’t want this.”

French health authorities reported 14,000 new infections Saturday amid a mass testing effort. France has reported 31,700 virus-related deaths, the third-highest toll in Europe after Britain and Italy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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