Evening Brief: School’s out

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The Lead

Elementary and secondary schools across Ontario will be shut down for a full day next week, as the province’s four major education unions launch a coordinated one-day strike in response to fruitless negotiations.

The strike, which the groups estimate will impact nearly 5,000 schools and nearly 200,000 teachers and education workers, was announced in the midst of a “fireside chat” event with Education Minister Stephen Lecce on Wednesday.

Hundreds of educators picketed outside the downtown Toronto hotel where the event was held.

“It’s the only way we actually get to be in the room with the Minister,” OECTA President Liz Stuart alleged to reporters gathered at the hotel, shortly after Lecce’s on-stage remarks concluded.

“It’s the only time we actually get to hear from him, because I think I speak for my colleagues when I say none of us have personally heard from the Minister since this began.”

Lecce, who did not speak with reporters, said during the on-stage conversation, that there were “a lot of forces out there” that opposed any change to the system when he was asked about the pushback he’s received from teachers.

Victoria Gibson reports.

In Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in on nationwide protests over a B.C. pipeline project that have disrupted rail traffic across the country, saying while the federal government respects the right to peaceful protest, the rule of law must be respected.

His comments in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, where he is wrapping up a visit to Africa, followed the cancellation of passenger rail service on key routes even as protesters prepared for police to move in on their camps. The Canadian Press reports.

Meanwhile, Canada’s retailers and manufacturers are bracing for shutdowns and dwindling supplies as blockades bring much of the country’s rail-freight network to a halt. The blockades come as Canada’s railways are already under government orders to run dangerous-goods trains at half-speed. The Globe and Mail reports.

Also, the latest annual report from the watchdog office that oversees the department responsible for Canada’s veterans shows it investigated more cases about how veterans were treated by the federal government than the year before.

The Veterans Ombudsman’s office opened just over 2,000 new case files in 2018-19. According to its most recent report, this is the third-highest number of new cases that have been reported in the past 10 years.

More than eight-in-ten, 1,681 total, of the new cases in 2018-19 were complaints, while 320 were inquiries. In total, the ombudsman addressed 2,144 inquiries and complaints last year, due to some that were carried over from 2017-2018. Charlie Pinkerton reports.

As well, Senegalese President Macky Sall pledged to support Canada’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. According to the Canadian Press, Trudeau has spent several days in multiple African countries partly to drum up votes from leaders across the continent for Canada’s campaign.

As well, iPolitics’ own Process Nerd, Kady O’Malley, looks at what’s to come with House of Commons committees when MPs are back in Ottawa next Tuesday. No fewer than 20 committees will convene their opening sessions starting next week.

And on a rather slow news week, Jolson Lim has a list of some of the gifts Trudeau has received in the last year. It includes a book by Mark Twain gifted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Sprout: Coastal GasLink pipeline protests threaten food and agricultural shipments

The Drilldown: B.C. government vows to continue with Coastal GasLink project

In Other Headlines

Canadian PM Trudeau raises gay rights with Senegal leader (Associated Press)

Inside a protest movement: How climate activists are taking Wet’suwet’en fight from B.C. to Yonge Street (Toronto Star)

U.S. admits border officers wrongly detained Iranian-born travellers at Canada-U.S. border (CBC News)

A proposed U.S. mine could poison a pristine Ontario watershed. Will Justin Trudeau stand up to Donald Trump and stop it? (Toronto Star)

‘Major announcements’ to accompany Bombardier earnings report Thursday — minister (CBC News)


China reported today its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in two weeks, bolstering a forecast by Beijing’s senior medical adviser for the outbreak there to end by April, but U.N. health authorities warned it could still “go in any direction.” (Reuters)

Meanwhile, Japan’s health ministry said that 39 new cases of a virus have been confirmed on a cruise ship quarantined at a Japanese port. (Associated Press)

The Taliban have issued an ultimatum to Washington after weeks of talks with a U.S. peace envoy, demanding a reply on their offer of a seven-day reduction of violence in Afghanistan, or they would walk away from the negotiating table. (AP)

NATO defence ministers have agreed to expand the Western alliance’s training mission in Iraq, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, responding to a demand by U.S. President Donald Trump for NATO to do more in the Middle East. (Reuters)

President Trump hailed Attorney General William Barr after the Justice Department took the unusual step of intervening in Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation. (NPR)

The U.N. human rights office has released a list of more than 100 companies it said are complicit in violating Palestinian human rights by operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank — a first-ever international attempt to name and shame businesses that has drawn fierce Israeli condemnation. (AP)

The Kicker

One of the greats of the Canadian journalism world has passed away.

Christie Blatchford, 68, has died after being diagnosed with cancer in November.

Blatchford was one of Canada’s most prominent writers, serving as a leading journalist at each of Toronto’s daily newspapers.

The National Post reflects on the life of the talented, trailblazing reporter here.

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