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Today in History for Nov. 20: In 1789, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the U.S. Bill of Rights. In 1841, Wilfrid Laurier, Canada's seventh prime minister, was born.

Today in History for Nov. 20:

In 1789, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the U.S. Bill of Rights.

In 1841, Wilfrid Laurier, Canada's seventh prime minister, was born. He was Canada's first prime minister of French ancestry, serving from 1896-1911.

In 1871, John and David McDougall arrived in Alberta to become the province's first farmers.

Also in 1871, telegraph lines linked Winnipeg and Eastern Canada, via the United States.

In 1877, Edmonton obtained its first telegraph service.

In 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Great Lakes and their connecting waters constituted the "high seas." The U.S. and Canada signed a treaty in 1909, which guaranteed the lakes be free and open to both countries on equal terms.

In 1903, the Saskatchewan city of Moose Jaw was incorporated.

In 1910, revolution broke out in Mexico, led by Francisco I. Madero.

In 1925, future U.S. attorney general and senator Robert F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Mass. He was assassinated in 1968.

In 1945, the Nuremberg war crimes trials of 22 major Nazi figures opened in Germany. Judges from Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States presided over the hearings, which lasted for 218 days. When verdicts were announced on Oct. 1, 11 prominent Nazis were sentenced to death, seven others received prison sentences and three were acquitted. Martin Bormann was tried in absentia and also sentenced to death. It was not confirmed until 1972 that he had died before the trial began.

In 1946, Alberta's oil boom began when the initial drilling was done at the famous Leduc well south of Edmonton. Leduc began producing Feb. 13, 1947. Four-fifths of Canada's sedimentary basins in which petroleum is found are located in the Prairies, especially Alberta.

In 1947, Britain's future queen, Princess Elizabeth, married navy Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey.

In 1959, the United Nations issued its "Declaration of the Rights of the Child."

In 1960, Lester Pearson was presented with Medallion of Valour of the State of Israel for his "outstanding role in the deliberations of the United Nations which led to the judicious considerations between the State of Israel and the Arab nations." Earlier in 1957, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his proposal of a UN peacekeeping force to ease the British and French out of Egypt.

In 1962, the United Nations approved a Canadian plan to measure worldwide atomic radiation.

In 1968, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a portion of the "Indian Act" which said it was illegal for aboriginals to be drunk off their reserve. The ruling on the case of Joseph Drybones was a victory for the 1960 Bill of Rights, which said Canadian laws should not violate the rights or freedoms listed in it. In this case, the rule on drunkenness only applied to aboriginals.

In 1969, the U.S. government announced a halt to residential use of DDT as part of a total phase-out of the pesticide.

In 1975, after nearly four decades of absolute rule, Spain's General Francisco Franco died, two weeks before his 83rd birthday.

In 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to address Israel's parliament.

In 1978, the Progressive Conservatives won 11 of 16 seats in the first Yukon election contested by political parties.

In 1979, a group of armed, fundamentalist Muslims from Iran seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest place.

In 1980, China began the trial of 10 radicals, including Mao Tse-tung's widow Jiang Qing, on charges of attempting to kill Mao, staging an armed rebellion in Shanghai, attempting to overthrow state power and persecuting thousands of Chinese during the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s.

In 1985, the first version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, Windows 1.0, was officially released.

In 1986, Canadian-based Bata Ltd., one of the world's largest shoemakers, announced it was selling its operations in South Africa to foreign investors.

In 1987, during a visit to Canada, King Olav V of Norway named the Little Norway park in Toronto in honour of Norwegian servicemen. The site had been the Royal Norwegian training camp during the Second World War. It was the 84-year-old monarch's first visit to Canada since 1942. During the war, the then-crown prince visited Toronto where Norway's army and naval air force had set up a training base at a location on Toronto Island provided by the Canadian government.

In 1989, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the first Convention on the Rights of the Child, creating the most comprehensive treaty for the protection of children in history.

In 1989, more than 200,000 people in Prague, Czechoslovakia, rallied to demand democratic reforms and the ouster of the country's Communist leaders. The government fell a few days later.

In 1990, Justice Bertha Wilson, the first woman elected to the Supreme Court of Canada, retired after nine years on the bench.

In 1991, Ontario became the first province to regulate and recognize the midwife profession.

In 1992, fire seriously damaged the northwest side of Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth's favourite weekend home.

In 1995, former prime minister Brian Mulroney filed a $50-million lawsuit against the RCMP and the Justice Department. The suit claimed Mulroney's reputation and stature had been hurt by a letter the Mounties sent to Swiss authorities alleging Mulroney had taken kickbacks in the 1988 sale of 34 Airbus jets to Air Canada. Mulroney dropped the case after reaching a settlement with Ottawa. On Oct. 7, 1997, an arbitrator ruled that the RCMP must pay Mulroney $2 million to cover his legal expenses.

In 1995, Russian pairs skater and reigning Olympic champion Sergei Grinkov collapsed and died during practice in New York at the age of 28.

In 1999, China launched its first recoverable space capsule, Shenzou, in the province of Gansu.

In 2002, the RCMP announced the results of its five-year investigation into the tainted-blood scandal of the 1980s, the worst public health disaster in Canada in which contaminated blood and blood products infected thousands of patients with HIV and hepatitis. Four doctors, the Canadian Red Cross Society and an American drug company were criminally charged.

In 2002, the federal government and the Anglican Church of Canada reached a deal that would see the religious group pay up to $25 million to those abused in native residential schools.

In 2003, two suicide bombings, at the British consulate and a London-based bank, killed 27 people and injured hundreds in Istanbul. The attacks were blamed on al-Qaida.

In 2004, Daniel Andrea Iannuzzi, founder of Canada's foremost Italian-language newspaper, "Corriere Canadese," and founder of the world's first multilingual television station, died in Rome at age 70.

In 2008, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's colourful 35-year reign of pronouncements, threats and bluster ended when he passed control of baseball's most famous and successful franchise to his youngest son, Hal.

In 2009, Gilles-Andre Gosselin, a key player in the federal sponsorship scandal, pleaded guilty to several charges related to fraud totalling $655,276, committed between 1997 and 2000, and was sentenced to two years in jail, plus a day.

In 2012, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary, the first British royal couple to reach that milestone.

In 2017, Toronto author Michael Redhill won the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel "Bellevue Square."

In 2017, Nebraska regulators approved an alternate route through the state for TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It was the last major regulatory hurdle facing the $10-billion, 1,897-kilometre project.

In 2018, a mistrial was declared in the retrial of Dennis Oland in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his businessman father. Justice Terrence Morrison of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench dismissed the 16-member jury and ordered that the second degree murder trial continue the next day by judge alone. Morrison said he took the highly unusual step due to "improprieties" in jury selection involving a Saint John police officer.

In 2018, the NHL Alumni Association announced that former NHL coach and player Dan Maloney had died at age 68. Maloney was a feared fighter with a scoring touch in his playing days. He went on to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets.

In 2019, The Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock and replaced him with Sheldon Keefe.  Babcock had a record of 9-10-4 in 2019-20 for the struggling Leafs, who were 0-5-1 in their last six games, including five straight losses in regulation. After signing the richest coaching contract in NHL history at US$50 million over eight years, Babcock got Toronto to the playoffs the last three straight seasons, but was unable to advance beyond the first round. 

In 2019, John Mann, whose voice rang through countless Canadian celebrations as the lead singer of Celtic-inflected Spirit of the West, died after a battle with early onset Alzheimer's. He was 57.  The Calgary-born singer and songwriter was perhaps known best for the boisterous pub anthem "Home for a Rest."  A four-time Juno nominee for his work with Spirit of the West, Mann and his band became underground heroes for their politically savvy, musically diverse songwriting, which fused traditional strains of folk, Celtic and turn-of-the-'90s alt-rock.

In 2019, Prince Andrew said he was stepping back from public duties with the queen's permission.  Andrew said it had become clear to him that his association with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein had become a “major distraction” to the royal family’s work.  He said he regretted his association with the former U-S businessman and that he “deeply sympathized” with his victims.  Andrew had been heavily criticized for his performance in a T-V interview in which he failed to express concern for Epstein’s victims.  He seemed to show no remorse for his close association with a convicted sex offender who had abused many underage girls.  Some charities that Andrew had worked with as a patron had said they were reviewing their association with the prince because of his actions.

In 2020, Canada's ambassador to China met virtually with Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who had been detained in China since December 2018. Their arrests came not long after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. Global Affairs Canada said Ambassador Dominic Barton was granted on-site virtual consular access to Kovrig and Spavor. The federal government said no further information could be disclosed about the meetings. (Kovrig and Spavor were released in September 2021 after Wanzhou was permitted to return to China following a plea deal with the U.S.)

In 2020, a Fredericton jury found 50-year-old Matthew Raymond not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder for the 2018 killings of four people. The families of Donnie Robichaud, Bobbie Lee Wright and police Constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns hugged each other and sobbed after the verdict was announced. Raymond bowed his head and wiped away tears but said nothing.

In 2020, a celebrated journalist, historian, world traveller and fiction writer who became a pioneer of the transgender movement died at 94. Jan Morris was a prolific and accomplished author and journalist who wrote dozens of books on a variety of subjects.

In 2020, Pfizer asked U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech also submitted applications in other countries — Canada included.

In 2021, British Columbia issued an order rationing gasoline for non-essential vehicles in southern parts of the province. B.C.'s public safety minister said the measure would ensure a steady fuel supply while crews worked to fix roadways and other critical infrastructure damaged by severe flooding and landslides. 


The Canadian Press

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