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Week 2 on the hustings and Afghan chaos: In The News for Aug. 23

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 Aug. 23 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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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 Aug. 23 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

UNDATED—The main federal party leaders are in central and eastern Canada as the election campaign enters its second full week. 

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau remains on the East Coast today, making an announcement in Halifax before heading to St. John's, N.L., to meet with locals and supporters. 

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, meanwhile, returns to the Ottawa hotel where he spent the first several days of the campaign. 

He's set to make an announcement in the morning, followed by two of the "virtual telephone town halls" that have become a hallmark of his election outreach later in the day. 

O'Toole has faced criticism from his opponents for spending so much time on the fourth floor of the Westin, but he says he's simply a pandemic-era leader making safety-driven decisions. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh plans to make an announcement about climate change in Montreal, where he launched his campaign and is trying to win back seats from the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois. 

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Also this ...

UNDATED — Canada’s municipal leaders are asking federal parties to not only build new affordable rental units, but pledge to protect ones on the verge of disappearing.

As an election campaign plays out across the country, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is seeking money to help cities and housing providers buy low-rent units that could fetch a far higher price.

Often, that is done through the process of “renoviction” where a landlord removes a tenant, makes upgrades and then lists the unit at a higher price.

The issue is one of several the federation has put forward for parties to consider as part of billions in hoped-for spending to expand affordable housing options.

Federation president Joanne Vanderheyden says there is a particular need to expand and protect rental options as the price of housing skyrockets across Canadian municipalities.

She says local leaders are looking for promises to help preserve and expand market and non-market rental options.

With every party prioritizing affordable housing on the campaign trail, Vanderheyden and her municipal counterparts are optimistic that they can get most, if not all, of what they’re asking for as they see residents of their cities getting priced out of the market. 

“There's nothing worse than answering the phone and having someone weeping on the other line being evicted and not having any place to go,” said Vanderheyden, mayor of the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc, just west of London, Ont. 

“People need a place to live. Everyone needs a safe, affordable place to live. So this is the problem, that's the base of the problem. So how do we get there?”

For the federation, the path starts with $585 million to launch a program to buy low-rent market housing in a bid to spare it from “renoviction” or being converted into higher-priced units. 

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And this ...

UNDATED — Cooler conditions have helped firefighters make some progress against the White Rock Lake wildfire in British Columbia's Interior.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations says although conditions improved over the past two days, firefighters still have their hands full battling the blaze.

Cooler temperatures, calmer winds and some light rain have allowed officials to downgrade several evacuation orders across the province, but the agency says conditions remain "very dry" near Kelowna, B.C.

Alex Van Bruksvoort, the fire chief for North Westside Fire Rescue, says he and the service know residents want to return home but are asking them to wait until conditions are safer.

The BC Wildfire Service says about 250 blazes are still burning across the province.

The Ministry of Forests says nearly 8,600 square kilometres have been burned by wildfires since the start of the fire season, and there are more than 3,600 firefighters battling blazes across the province.

The evacuation order for more than 1,300 properties and alert for 850 properties remains in place for those affected by the White Rock Lake fire.

Meanwhile, the Mount Law wildfire, also in the Interior, continues to burn out of control.

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

WESTERLY, R.I. — The tropical depression Henri appears to be lingering in the Northeast, raising the prospect it will bring sustained rains and cause major flooding inland. 

The National Weather Service says the system is expected to stall Monday near the Connecticut-New York state line before moving east across New England. 

The agency warned Henri could produce 5 to 15 centimetres of total rainfall over much of the Northeast, leading to flash flooding. 

Henri was a hurricane at one point before it made landfall in Rhode Island.

 It was downgraded to a tropical storm and is now a depression.

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Also this ... 

WAVERLY, Tenn. — A sheriff in Tennessee says at least 22 people are dead any many are missing after record-setting rain caused devastating flooding that swept away homes. 

A Facebook page from officials in Waverly listed about 40 missing people Sunday afternoon. 

Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis said many of the missing were from neighborhoods hit hardest by Saturday’s flash flood. 

The dead ranged in age from young children to elderly people and included the foreman at country star Loretta Lynn's ranch. 

Up to 17 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours, which set a new one-day record for rainfall in Tennessee.

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And this ...

SINGAPORE — Vice President Kamala Harris says the U.S. must maintain its focus on evacuating Americans and vulnerable Afghans and shouldn’t get distracted by questions over what went wrong in the chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan. 

Harris made the comment at a news conference in Singapore after meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to discuss issues ranging from the coronavirus response to cybersecurity. 

But the news conference was dominated by Afghanistan, after the messy U.S. withdrawal sparked concerns about America’s commitments to its allies globally. 

Harris’ visit to Singapore and Vietnam this week is seen as the first real test of the Biden administration’s ability to reassure key allies of its resolve.

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

KABUL — The German military says a firefight at one of the gates of Kabul’s international airport killed at least one Afghan soldier. 

The shooting early today was the latest chaos to engulf Western efforts to evacuate those fleeing the Taliban takeover of the country. 

The Taliban meanwhile sent fighters to the north of the capital to eliminate pockets of armed resistance to their lightning advance earlier this month. 

The militants said they retook three districts that fell the day before and had surrounded Panjshir, the last province that remains out of their control. 

Both sides in Panjshir have said they prefer a peaceful solution to the standoff.

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Also this ... 

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will convene a meeting of leaders from the Group of Seven nations on Tuesday for "urgent talks on the situation in Afghanistan."

Johnson revealed the plan in a statement posted on Twitter. 

He says it's "vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years."

The U.K. holds this year's presidency of the G7 nations, which is also made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. 

There was no immediate word from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's camp on whether he would take time away from the election campaign to attend the meeting. 

Trudeau has faced criticism in recent days for not acting fast enough to evacuate Afghans who supported Canada's military and diplomatic efforts in the war-torn country.

So far, three Canadian planes have carried evacuees out of the chaotic Kabul airport. 

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ICYMI ...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Don Everly, one-half of the pioneering Everly Brothers whose harmonizing country rock hits impacted a generation of rock ‘n’ roll music, has died. He was 84.

A family spokesperson said Everly died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday. His brother, Phil Everly, died in January 2014 at age 74.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, the duo of Don and Phil drew upon their rural roots with their strummed guitars and high, yearning harmonies, while their poignant songs embodied teenage restlessness and energy. Their 19 top 40 hits included “Bye Bye Love,” “Let It Be Me,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and “Wake Up Little Susie,” and performers from the Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel cited them as key influences.

The two broke up amid quarreling in 1973 after 16 years of hits, then reunited in 1983, “sealing it with a hug,” Phil Everly said.

Although their number of hit records declined in the late 1980s, they had successful concert tours in the U.S. and Europe.

They were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, the same year they had a hit pop-country record, “Born Yesterday.” Two years earlier, they had success with the up-tempo ballad “On the Wings of a Nightingale,” written by Paul McCartney.

Don Everly said in a 1986 Associated Press interview that he and his brother were successful because “we never followed trends. We did what we liked and followed our instincts.”
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2021

The Canadian Press