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In The News for June 9 : Wildfires still causing poor air quality across Canada

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 9... What we are watching in Canada ...
A person wearing a mask makes their way through downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, June 7, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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 9...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Smoke and flames continue to engulf much of Canada, with Alberta imposing new evacuation orders, Manitoba bracing for heavy, lightning-generating thunderstorms and high wildfire risks and poor air quality from coast to coast.

Air pollution from wildfires remained well above healthy levels across much of southern and northern Ontario and several communities in British Columbia and Alberta.

Forecasters expect moderately bad air quality on Friday and Saturday throughout most of Ontario.

Meanwhile, Alberta issued two evacuation orders for Yellowhead County in the province's northwest and an evacuation alert for Grande Prairie County. 

The worst air in that province is near Fort Chipewyan, which remains on an evacuation order as a fire burns out of control. Wood Buffalo and Grande Prairie also have high risk air quality forecasts.

Moderately bad air quality is forecast for Edmonton and Calgary on Friday.

In British Columbia air quality was expected to improve almost everywhere in the province except for Fort St. John. 

The number of fires burning across the country fell slightly Thursday, but forecasts suggest smoke warnings will remain in place in several provinces into the weekend.

The record setting air pollution that blanketed Ottawa and much of eastern Ontario with a yellow-tinged haze Wednesday had mostly cleared by Thursday morning. But further south, Environment Canada maintained very high-risk air quality rating in the Toronto area, southwestern Ontario and the Niagara region.

Multiple health studies have linked wildfire smoke to serious health consequences including heart attacks, strokes and breathing problems, and the poor air quality has prompted cancellations or changes to outdoor activities as a result.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre said there were 431 fires burning on Thursday in nine provinces and two territories. That was down from 441 Wednesday, with Quebec extinguishing 10 fires since Wednesday morning. The number of out-of-control fires also fell from 256 to 234 on Thursday, including a change in status for more than a dozen fires in Quebec.


Also this ...

Statistics Canada will release its latest snapshot of how the job market is doing in the country.

The agency will release its labour force survey for May this morning.

The labour market has remained resilient this year, despite higher interest rates.

The unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 per cent in April when the economy surprised economists and added 41,000 jobs for the month.

The job report this morning comes after the Bank of Canada's decision this week to raise its key interest rate target by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.75 per cent.

In raising its key rate, the central bank said the labour market remains tight, reflecting continued strong demand for workers.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

MIAMI _ Donald Trump has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate, a remarkable development that makes him the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges by the federal government that he once oversaw.

The Justice Department was expected to make public a seven-count indictment ahead of a historic court appearance next week in the midst of a 2024 presidential campaign punctuated by criminal prosecutions in multiple states.

The indictment carries unmistakably grave legal consequences, including the possibility of prison if Trump's convicted.

But it also has enormous political implications, potentially upending a Republican presidential primary that Trump had been dominating and testing anew the willingness of GOP voters and party leaders to stick with a now twice-indicted candidate who could face still more charges. And it sets the stage for a sensational trial centred on claims that a man once entrusted to safeguard the nation's most closely guarded secrets wilfully, and illegally, hoarded sensitive national security information.

The Justice Department did not immediately confirm the indictment publicly. But two people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to discuss it publicly said that the indictment included seven criminal counts. One of those people said Trump's lawyers were contacted by prosecutors shortly before he announced Thursday on his Truth Social platform that he had been indicted.

 Within minutes of his announcement, Trump, who said he was due in court Tuesday afternoon in Miami, began fundraising off it for his presidential campaign. He declared his innocence in a video and repeated his familiar refrain that the investigation is a "witch hunt.''

The case adds to deepening legal jeopardy for Trump, who has already been indicted in New York and faces additional investigations in Washington and Atlanta that also could lead to criminal charges. But among the various investigations he faces, legal experts _ as well as Trump's own aides _ had long seen the Mar-a-Lago probe as the most perilous threat and the one most ripe for prosecution. Campaign aides had been bracing for the fallout since Trump's attorneys were notified that he was the target of the investigation, assuming it was not a matter of if charges would be brought, but when.

Appearing Thursday night on CNN, Trump attorney James Trusty said the indictment includes charges of wilful retention of national defence information _ a crime under the Espionage Act, which polices the handling of government secrets _ obstruction, false statements and conspiracy.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Philippine troops, police and rescue workers began forcibly evacuating residents near Mayon Volcano on Friday as its increasing unrest indicated a violent eruption of one of the country's most active volcanoes is possible within weeks or days.

The area within a six-kilometre radius of Mayon's crater is supposed to be off-limits due to possible volcanic emissions, lava flows, rockfalls and other hazards. But many poor villagers have built houses and tended farms in Mayon's danger zone over the years.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said an evacuation of residents from the permanent danger zone was underway and promised to provide aid to the displaced until the crisis ended.

"Right now, what we are doing is preparing and moving people away from the area so that, should the time come, I hope it doesn't happen, we're ready,'' Marcos told reporters. "But unfortunately science tells us that may happen because the lid or the cap on top of the lava is slowly rising.''

Authorities had raised the alert level for the volcano in northeastern Albay province Thursday after superheated streams of gas, debris and rocks cascaded down its upper slope, indicating activity below the surface that could precede a hazardous eruption.

Conditions have advanced a little bit more Friday, although lava hasn't started to flow, Marcos said.

The numbers of residents being evacuated weren't immediately available.

A tourist draw for its picturesque conical shape, 2,462-metre Mayon last erupted violently in 2018, displacing tens of thousands of villagers.


On this day in 2021 ...

A settlement was reached in a class-action lawsuit against the federal government involving hundreds of First Nations people left out of residential-school compensation. The lawsuit was brought by Indigenous students known as "day scholars,'' who attended the notorious residential schools but returned to their homes at night. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said the settlement will see survivors receive compensation of $10,000.


In entertainment ...

LOS ANGELES _ Drake could make an impactful mark at the BET Awards later this month.

The chart-topping performer scored seven nominations at the show airing live on June 25 in Los Angeles. He's up for best male hip-hop artist, male R&B/pop artist along with best collaboration and viewer's choice with Future and Tems for their song "Wait for U.''

Drake's three other nominations are shared with 21 Savage, who is up for five nods. The tandem is nominated for album of the year through "Her Loss,'' best group and viewer's choice for their hit "Jimmy Cooks.''

Rapper GloRilla, nominated for her first Grammy earlier this year, will enter the ceremony as the second-most nominated act with six. She's up for best female hip-hop artist, new artist, album of the year for "Anyways, Life's Great'' and video of the year for "Tomorrow 2'' with Cardi B. She's scored two nominations in the best collaboration category for "Tomorrow 2'' and "F.N.F. (Let's Go)'' with Hitkidd.

Along with 21 Savage, Lizzo came away with five nominations. Beyonce, SZA, Ice Spice, Chris Brown and Burna Boy each have four noms.

Show officials say there are plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop during the telecast. Performers will be announced soon.

The awards show will honour categories in film and sports as well. Best movie nominees include "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,'' "Creed 3,'' "Emancipation,'' "Nope,'' "The Woman King,'' "TILL'' and "Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody.'' 

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who collected his second Super Bowl title and MVP trophy this year, is nominated for sportsman of year. He'll compete against LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Aaron Judge, Jalen Hurts, Gervonta Davis and Bubba Wallace.

LSU stars Angel Reese and Alexis Morris, both nominated for sportswoman of the year, led their school to its first-ever women's basketball championship in April. They are nominated against Allyson Felix, Candace Parker, Naomi Osaka, Sha'Carri Richardson and Serena Williams.


Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ Canada has partnered with a non-profit to seek out LGBTQ people fleeing violence all over the world and refer them to Canada as government-assisted refugees.

Rainbow Railroad is based in North America and aims to help people facing persecution from systemic, state-enabled homophobia and transphobia all over the world.

Until now, the agency has done that by offering emergency relocation, crisis response and cash assistance to people in danger.

The partnership with Canada is the first that would see Rainbow Railroad facilitate government-sponsored refugee resettlement.

"What this allows us to do that we haven't been able to do to date is really triage really vulnerable cases and urgent cases for protection,'' said Rainbow Railroad CEO Kimahli Powell.

Persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity is on the rise. Just last week, Uganda adopted one of the harshest anti-homosexuality laws in the world.

Canadian politicians of all stripes have condemned the law, which prescribes the death penalty for people who engage in same-sex intimacy involving a partner with HIV, and long prison sentences for "promoting'' homosexuality and engaging in same-sex relations.

Since the law passed, Rainbow Railroad has had 600 requests for help from Uganda, which is more than double the number they had all of last year from that country.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2023

The Canadian Press