Trudeau in the hot seat and a teddy bear comes home:In The News for July 30

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 July 30.

What we are watching in Canada ...

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Justin Trudeau will be in the hot seat today for a rare prime ministerial appearance at a House of Commons committee, facing questions about his role in the simmering controversy involving the WE organization.

MPs on the finance committee will grill Trudeau about the events that led to his Liberal cabinet asking the WE Charity to oversee a $912-million program that provides grants to students and graduates for volunteering.

Trudeau's chief of staff Katie Telford was also scheduled to testify today.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre warned that if the prime minister doesn't fully answer questions from opposition MPs about his own and his family's ties to the WE organization, they will call him back again.

"We want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," Poilievre told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday.

The Conservatives say many of their questions for Trudeau will revolve around hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees paid to members of his family for appearing at WE events, along with related expenses.

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Also this ...

A new media organization's plan to host all four Conservative leadership candidates for a debate Wednesday was thrown into disarray when two of the contenders dropped out.

Leslyn Lewis announced hours before the Toronto event her doctor had ordered her to stay away because she is battling an ear infection and has a fever, though she has tested negative for COVID-19.

Shortly after, Peter MacKay declared he wouldn't go either, saying it wouldn't be fair if only three of the four candidates were onstage, and called for the event to be rescheduled.

The event was organized by the newly formed Independent Press Gallery of Canada, run by Candice Malcolm, a conservative columnist and analyst.

They decided to go forward with back-to-back "fireside chats" with the two remaining candidates, Erin O'Toole and Derek Sloan.

Lewis is ill and organizers wish her well, Malcolm said, but MacKay, who lives in Toronto made a choice.

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ICYMI (in case you missed it) ...

Mara Soriano has spent the last four days checking the alleys and dumpsters of Vancouver's West End, putting up posters and answering multitudes of emails and tweets, hoping she'd find a stolen teddy bear that carries her late mother's voice.

And on Tuesday night, the Vancouver resident was successful.

Sitting in her apartment, surrounded by half-unpacked boxes, a smiling Soriano cuddled the brown bear returned hours earlier by two Good Samaritans, still wearing its red-and-white dress and white jacket.

"I'm not gonna lie I kind of buckled. As soon as I saw (him) pull her out of the bag my knees just buckled," she said in a Skype interview.

"I just started sobbing and I grabbed her out of his hands and I couldn't let her go."

The bear was stolen Friday while Soriano was moving to a new apartment, and her social media plea for help went viral. Celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds and George Stroumboulopoulos each promised $5,000 rewards for its return.

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

A British socialite charged with recruiting three girls for Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse made a last-minute bid Wednesday to stop the public release of her 2016 testimony in a civil case.

Ty Gee, a lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell, told a Manhattan judge that the depositions by his client should be kept sealed, in part because they are evidence in the criminal case brought against her on July 2.

U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska denied what she described as an "eleventh-hour" request after last week ordering the public release of the documents by Thursday. But she also delayed the release of the depositions through Friday to give Gee time to appeal. He immediately did with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she procured the girls, including one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse in London and the United States in the 1990s. She remains at a federal jail in Brooklyn after bail was denied because she is a risk to flee.

The charges against Maxwell came nearly a year after Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan lockup where he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges. If convicted, she could face up to 35 years in prison.

Gee said Maxwell only revealed "intimate information about her personal life" in a case brought by one of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Giuffre, because a confidentiality agreement between parties in the case "specifically excluded an exception for law enforcement."

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

A Japanese court on Wednesday for the first time recognized people exposed to radioactive "black rain" that fell after the 1945 U.S. atomic attack on Hiroshima as atomic bomb survivors, ordering the city and the prefecture to provide the same government medical benefits as given to other survivors.

The Hiroshima District Court said all 84 plaintiffs who were outside of a zone previously set by the government as where radioactive rain fell also developed radiation-induced illnesses and should be certified as atomic bomb victims. All of the plaintiffs are older than their late 70s, with some in their 90s.

The landmark ruling comes a week before the city marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. bombing.

The U.S. dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killing 140,000 people and almost destroying the entire city. The plaintiffs were in areas northwest of the ground zero where radioactive black rain fell hours after the bomb was dropped.

The plaintiffs have developed illnesses such as cancer and cataracts linked to radiation after they were exposed to black rain, not only that which fell but also by taking water and food in the area contaminated with radiation.

They filed the lawsuit after Hiroshima city and prefectural officials rejected their request to expand the zone to cover their areas where black rain also fell.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 30, 2020.

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