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In The News for Dec. 8 : Liberals set to introduce promised child-care legislation

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 Dec. 8 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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Families, Children and Social Development Minister Karina Gould rises during Question Period, Friday, October 7, 2022 in Ottawa. Families Minister Karina Gould is expected to introduce legislation today to strengthen child care in Canada, which is likely to include an effort to secure a long-term role for Ottawa in the new national daycare system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

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 Dec. 8 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Families Minister Karina Gould is expected to introduce legislation today to strengthen child care in Canada, which is likely to include an effort to secure a long-term role for Ottawa in the new national daycare system.

The Liberal government brought in a national childcare plan that would cut daycare fees by an average of 50 per cent by the end of this year — and down to an average of $10 per day by 2026.

The 2021 federal budget pledged $30 billion in new spending on the national childcare system over five years, with another $9.2 billion annually coming after that.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later tasked Gould with introducing "federal childcare legislation to strengthen and protect a high-quality Canada-wide childcare system."

Earlier this year, Gould said the bill would enshrine the principles that provinces and territories agreed to in funding agreements with Ottawa, including the pledge to cut parent fees and create more spaces.

The Liberals promised to introduce the legislation by the end of this year in the confidence-and-supply agreement that would see the New Democrats support the minority government through to 2025.

That agreement specifies the legislation would ensure "that childcare agreements have long-term protected funding that prioritizes non-profit and public spaces."

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Also this ...

Canada's negotiators at the COP15 conference say business groups and financial institutions have a role to play in preserving the planet's biodiversity.

Basile van Havre, co-chair of one of the Montreal conference's working groups, says the private sector is looking for rules and certainty on the environmental effectiveness of its investments.

He says it's part of a larger push for performance standards that companies and investors can use to measure their activities against. 

The conference, which is bringing more than 190 nations together, is entering its second day of hard talks on hard targets for saving the world's biodiversity.

Negotiators hope to reach an agreement on how to protect 30 per cent of Earth's land and water, as well as a deal on how to pay for that conservation.

Van Havre says business groups have learned from climate change discussions that they need a way to assess risks, pointing to a possible example of a company funding beef production that creates deforestation, which might not be a sustainable long-term investment.

Although there is broad support for the overall goals at the conference, consensus remains elusive. 

Negotiators say about 900 so-called "brackets" — points that haven't yet been agreed on — remain in the draft text.

The conference runs until Dec. 19. 

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And this too ...

The Canadian Armed Forces says it has received hundreds of applications from permanent residents interested in joining the military, but getting those prospective recruits into uniform could take up to two years.

Chief of the defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre officially opened the military’s doors to all permanent residents in October, in direct response to an unprecedented personnel crisis that has left the Armed Forces scrambling for new recruits. 

Defence Minister Anita Anand publicly announced the measure, which went into effect on Oct. 18, on Monday. 

A permanent resident is someone who has been allowed to live and work in Canada after immigrating from another country but is not a Canadian citizen. Hundreds of thousands of new permanent residents arrive in Canada every year, but until last week only those who have training from a foreign military could apply to join the Armed Forces.

The military says more than 2,400 people submitted applications in November, a number that the commander of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group described on Wednesday as unexpected.

The number is especially notable when considering the military received about 4,000 applications over the same period from Canadian citizens. 

Yet the military’s excitement is also being tempered by what Roby acknowledged will be specific challenges related to security screenings, which involve checking each applicant’s background before allowing them to put on a uniform.

It currently takes about eight months to properly vet Canadian citizens who apply for the military, and that has been flagged as a significant obstacle in getting more people into basic training.

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

WASHINGTON _ The House is set to give final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages in federal law, a monumental step in a decades-long battle for countrywide recognition of such unions that reflects a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes.

A law requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriages would come as a relief for hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court's 2015 decision that legalized those marriages countrywide. The bipartisan legislation would also protect interracial unions by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of "sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.''

U.S. President Joe Biden backs the bill and said he will "promptly and proudly'' sign it into law.

Democrats have moved the bill quickly through the House and Senate since the Supreme Court's June decision that overturned the federal right to an abortion. That ruling included a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested same-sex marriage should also be reconsidered.

Roused to action by the court, the House passed a bill to protect the same-sex unions in July with the support of 47 Republicans, a robust and unexpected show of support that kick-started serious negotiations in the Senate. After months of talks, the Senate passed the legislation last week with 12 Republican votes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she is happy that the marriage legislation will be one of her last acts in leadership before stepping aside in January. "I'm so excited,'' she said of the legislation, which she said will ensure that "the federal government will never again stand in the way of marrying the person you love.''

The legislation would not require states to allow same-sex couples to marry, as the Obergefell ruling now does. But it would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed and it would protect current same-sex unions if the court's 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision were to be overturned.

While it's not everything advocates may have wanted, passage of the legislation represents a watershed moment. Just a decade ago, many Republicans openly campaigned on blocking same-sex marriages; today more than two-thirds of the public support them.

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

CANBERRA, Australia _ Australia's government on Thursday said it was seeking assurances from Indonesia that the man convicted of making the bombs used in the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks would continue to be monitored after his release from prison.

Islamic militant Hisyam bin Alizein, also known as Umar Patek, was paroled Wednesday after serving about half of his original 20-year sentence, despite strong objections from Australia.

The attacks killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said it was a difficult day for those who lost loved ones in the bombings.

He told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that his government had advocated against Patek's early release and would urge the Indonesian government to ensure he was under constant surveillance while on parole.

Indonesian authorities have said Patek, 55, was successfully reformed in prison and they will use him to influence other militants to turn away from terrorism.

Patek was a leading member of Jemaah Islamiah, which was blamed for the blasts at two nightclubs in Kuta Beach. He was found guilty by the West Jakarta District Court of helping build a car bomb that was detonated by another person outside the Sari Club in Kuta on the night of Oct. 12, 2002.

Moments earlier, a smaller bomb in a backpack was detonated by a suicide bomber in the nearby Paddy's Pub nightclub.

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On this day in 1869 ...

Timothy Eaton opened a small dry-goods store at the corner of Yonge and Queen streets in Toronto. Eaton revolutionized the commercial practice of the day by offering satisfaction or money refunded. His store became one of the largest department stores in North America. In September 1999, Sears Canada announced it would buy the outstanding common shares of the insolvent Eaton's.

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In entertainment ...

LONDON _ Britain's monarchy braced for more bombshells to be lobbed over the palace gates Thursday as Netflix released the first three episodes of a series that promises to tell the "full truth'' about Prince Harry and Meghan's estrangement from the Royal Family.

Promoted with two dramatically edited trailers that hint at racism and a "war against Meghan,'' the series "Harry & Meghan'' is the couple's latest effort to tell the world why they walked away from royal life and moved to Southern California almost three years ago. It is expected to expand on criticism of the Royal Family and British media delivered in a series of interviews over the past 18 months.,

Netflix released the first three hour-long episodes on Thursday, with three more due Dec. 15. The documentary includes video diaries recorded by Meghan and Harry _ apparently on their phones _ in March 2020, amid the couple's acrimonious split from the Royal Family and move to the United States.

Harry says in the footage that it's "my duty to uncover the exploitation and bribery'' that happens in British media.

"No one knows the full truth,'' Harry adds. "We know the full truth.''

A title at the beginning of the series says the Royal Family declined to comment.

The series comes at a crucial moment for the monarchy as King Charles tries to show that the institution still has a role to play after the death of Queen Elizabeth, whose personal popularity dampened criticism of the crown during her 70-year reign.

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Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ A First Nations child welfare advocate on Wednesday implored chiefs to ensure "no child is left behind'' in a landmark $40-billion settlement agreement with the federal government.

Cindy Blackstock delivered the message to an Assembly of First Nations gathering in Ottawa, after being invited to take the stage by Cindy Woodhouse, regional chief in Manitoba who helped negotiate the agreement, which had been thrown into question since being rejected by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

The AFN, representing more than 600 First Nations across the country, had asked the tribunal to approve the settlement deal, which would see the government spend $20 billion to compensate families and children for systemic discrimination in the Indigenous child welfare system. It would also spend another $20 billion on making long-term reforms.

Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Caring Society who first lodged the complaint at the heart of the issue, raised concerns that the agreement wouldn't provide $40,000 in compensation to all eligible claimants, which is the amount the tribunal ruled they should get.

Following the tribunal's decision in October, the federal government filed for a judicial review of some parts of its decision.

Endorsing the settlement agreement loomed as one of the biggest items on the assembly's agenda, with chiefs being asked to vote on what the organization should do next.

The chiefs had been preparing to vote on conflicting resolutions, with one asking them to support the final settlement agreement, while another sought to see the organization not appeal the tribunal decision and renegotiate the deal.

But on Wednesday, further talks between both sides took place, assisted by former senator and judge Murray Sinclair, who helped the AFN, federal government and lawyers for two related class-action lawsuits reach the $40-billion agreement in the first place, which was formally announced in January.

Chiefs ultimately voted late Wednesday against re-entering negotiations but to instead support compensation for victims outlined in the agreement and "those already legally entitled to the $40,000 plus interest under the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal compensation orders.''

It also included a provision that AFN leaders must regularly return to chiefs to provide it with progress updates and "seek direction'' from chiefs on implementing the final agreement.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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