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Biden vows to unite America and Ragu exits Canada; In The News for Aug. 21


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. 21 ...

What we are watching in Canada ... 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will join Ontario Premier Doug Ford today to announce a deal aimed at ensuring Canada is never again at the mercy of unreliable foreign suppliers of personal protective equipment during a pandemic.

Under the agreement, 3M is to increase capacity at its Brockville, Ont., facility so that it can produce up to 100 million medical-grade N95 masks a year.

The federal and Ontario governments are each kicking in $23.3 million to help increase production capacity at the plant.

A provincial government official confirmed the masks are to be used to meet private sector, provincial, and North American market demand throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Ford has repeatedly said that Ontario needs to ramp up production of personal protective equipment given the experience early in the COVID-19 crisis, when Canada was scrambling in a global competition for a limited supply of masks and other equipment.

The prized N95 masks, used by frontline health care workers, were in particularly short supply. 


Also this ...

An evacuation order for a fire in the southern interior of British Columbia has been rescinded while other areas are still seeing raging blazes.

Kim Wright, southeast fire centre information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, says the Solomon Mountain wildfire is under control.

The fire about four kilometres north of Beaverdell had prompted an evacuation alert by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

However, the Doctor Creek fire near a village located at the southern end of Columbia Lake is now estimated to be 30 square kilometres in size.

Wright says the fire has been very aggressive partly because of the dryness of fuels in the area.

She says fighting the flames has been challenging for crews because of the steep and rocky terrain.


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

Joe Biden vowed to unite an America torn by crisis and contempt Thursday night, accepting the Democratic presidential nomination and achieving a pinnacle in an unfinished quest that has spanned three decades and been marred by personal tragedy, political stumbles and more dynamic rivals.

The past hurdles fell away as Biden addressed his fellow Democrats and millions of Americans at home who he hopes will send him to the White House to replace Donald Trump – though his triumphant moment was drained of immediate drama by the coronavirus pandemic, which left him speaking to a nearly empty arena rather than a to a joyously cheering crowd.

“Here and now I give you my word, if you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us not the worst," Biden declared. "I’ll be an ally of the light, not our darkness.”

"And make no mistake, united we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America.”

The pandemic has shaken the nation and fundamentally altered the campaign. But Biden pointed to the public health emergency and the severe economic fallout to turn traits previously seen as vulnerabilities, notably a long career spent in elected office, into an advantage by presenting himself as a competent leader in a moment that Democrats say cries out for one in the White House.

The night’s keynote address was the speech of a lifetime for Biden, who at 77 would be the oldest president ever elected if he defeats Trump in November. But his convention leaned on a younger generation earlier in the night to help energize his sprawling coalition.


What we are watching in the world ...

West African leaders escalated pressure on Mali’s ruling junta late Thursday, calling on them to allow President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's return to power as the mutinous soldiers who overthrew him insisted his midnight resignation had been his own decision.

The junta behind Tuesday's military takeover said the 75-year-old Keita was only being held at army barracks for his own protection, and denied he had been ousted in the first place.

“There was no coup d’état because the constitutional order is still in force,” junta spokesman Ismaël Wagué told The Associated Press in an interview late Thursday. "The president of the republic resigned on his own after making an analysis of the country’s situation.”

Keita was last seen by Malians late Tuesday on state broadcaster ORTM where he announced his immediate resignation and the dissolution of his government and the National Assembly. His speech came just hours after mutinous soldiers had surrounded his house and fired shots into the air before detaining him and the prime minister.

Heads of state from the regional bloc known as ECOWAS late Thursday called for the mobilizing of a standby regional military force, saying Keita must be allowed to serve out the three years left in his term after this week's “coup attempt.” They warned that the junta was responsible for the safety of Keita and all other detained government officials.

The United Nations and France also urged a return to constitutional order in Mali, amid fears that Islamic extremists could once again gain ground amid the political upheaval, derailing more than seven years of effort to stabilize the country.


On this day in 1996 ...

Mary Two Axe Earley, a Indigenous rights activist who pressured the government into changing a section of the Indian Act that discriminated against women, died at age 84.


In food news ...

Sorry, spaghetti lovers: Canada has lost Ragu pasta sauce.

The American purveyor of Italian-inspired flavour says it's made the "hard decision" to pull its products from Canadian shelves.

Ragu grabbed attention after confirming on Twitter last week it had exited the country.

Numerous queries had been made by Canadians who were left scraping their jars while waiting for stores to restock their favourite beef or tomato sauce.

The brand apologized to pasta lovers for any inconvenience, and said it hoped they enjoyed the tastes while they lasted.

The brand's owner, Mizkan America, did not return requests for comment about why or when Ragu was removed from the Canadian market.

Ragu is warning American customers on its website that finding its sauces may be a challenge and it's working to keep up with demand.



Electric car advocates are pushing Ottawa to put more money into its zero-emission vehicle rebate program, as the popular program is on track to run out of cash more than a year ahead of schedule.

Transport Canada data obtained by The Canadian Press this week shows 75 per cent of the $300-million program has already been spoken for, just 15 months into its three-year mandate.

The rebate, which provides up to $5,000 back on the purchase or lease of a new battery vehicle, or a battery-gasoline hybrid one, began May 1, 2019, and was supposed to run until April 30, 2022.

But as of July 31, more than $225 million had been paid out to 53,510 drivers.

"It's no surprise to me," says Daniel Breton, president of Electric Mobility Canada, a non-profit agency pushing for the electrification of transportation.

Electric car sales, as a share of overall vehicle purchases, have steadily grown from two per cent of all sales in 2018 to three per cent last year, and to almost four per cent in the first three months of 2020.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 21, 2020

The Canadian Press

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