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Hockey Canada fallout and conscience rights bill : In The News for Oct. 6

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A Hockey Canada document is review by a member of Parliament during a House of Commons Committee on Canadian Heritage looking into safe sport in Canada on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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 Oct. 6 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

     Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will not transfer funds to the national organization, while a well-known Canadian brand extended its sponsorship boycott.

     Hockey Quebec confirmed to The Canadian Press that its board of directors adopted a motion Tuesday night stating it does not believe Hockey Canada's current structure can change hockey culture. The resolution was first reported by La Presse.

     The provincial hockey body also decided to keep the portion of registration fees normally handed over to the national organization, which amounts to $3 per sign-up.

     Also, Tim Hortons announced Wednesday it won't sponsor any Hockey Canada men's programming this season, including the world junior men's championship in Halifax and Moncton.

     The company, which first suspended its sponsorship in June, says it will continue to fund national women's and para hockey programs, as well as youth hockey.

     Media reports said Scotiabank followed suit Wednesday night, announcing in a statement that it will extend its pause of sponsoring the organization through the 2022-2023 season, including the world junior tournament.

     ``In our open letter in June, we publicly called on Hockey Canada to hold the game to a higher standard and we are disappointed with the lack of progress to date,'' the bank said.

     ``From Hockey Canada, we expect a tangible commitment to transparency with Canadians, strong leadership, accountability with their stakeholders and the hockey community, and improved safety both on and off the ice. Our position hasn't wavered: the time for change is long overdue.''

     The Ontario Hockey Federation, the largest of Canada's 13 provincial and territorial hockey associations, has asked Hockey Canada a second time to not collect the $3 participant assessment fee from its members for the 2022-23 season.

     Hockey Canada continues to vigorously defend its leadership amid criticism over the handling of alleged sexual assaults and the way money was paid out in lawsuits.  Two recent allegations involve players from the 2018 and 2003 Canadian junior men's teams. Those allegations have not been tested in court.

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Also this ...

      Nearly all Conservative members of Parliament voted for a bill they say would protect the conscience rights of health professionals when it comes to medical assistance in dying.

     The private member's bill was defeated in the House of Commons Wednesday by a vote of 203 to 115, despite getting support from most Tories, including their new leader, Pierre Poilievre.

     The bill was introduced by Kelly Block, a Conservative MP from rural Saskatchewan who hails from the party's social conservative wing, which champions the issue of conscience rights.

     The governing Liberals and MPs from the NDP and Bloc Quebecois voted against the proposed law, which sought to change the Criminal Code to protect health professionals from having to ``directly or indirectly'' participate in medical assistance in dying.

     The Conservatives saw 114 votes cast in favour of the bill. The House of Commons website shows no votes were registered for Melissa Lantsman, one of the party's two deputy leaders, as well as MPs Eric Duncan, Dave Epp and Richard Martel.

     Kevin Vuong, an Independent MP for the downtown Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York, also supported Block's bill and appears to be the only non-Conservative to have done so.

     Block's proposal would have made it an offence to intimidate or fire a health-care worker who refuses to provide a medically assisted death or provide a referral for the service.

     The Liberal government has long said there is nothing in its legislation that forces a health professional to ``provide or help to provide'' the procedure if it conflicts with their personal beliefs.

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

       A baby girl, her parents and uncle were found dead in a central California orchard two days after they were kidnapped at gunpoint from their business, police said.

     ``Our worst fears have been confirmed,'' Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said at a Wednesday night news conference.  Warnke did not release any information about how and when police believe they were killed. He said the victims were close to each other when found by a farm worker in a remote area.

     The grim announcement came after authorities earlier Wednesday released surveillance video of a man kidnapping 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, on Monday.

     Authorities said they were taken by a convicted robber who tried to kill himself a day after the kidnappings. Jesus Salgado, 48, was in critical condition when taken into custody but has been talking to police, Warnke said.

     No motive for the kidnapping has been established, he said.

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

      A court in military-ruled Myanmar has sentenced a Japanese journalist to prison after he filmed an anti-government protest in July, a Japanese diplomat said Thursday.

     Toru Kubota was sentenced Wednesday to seven years for violating the electronic transactions law and three years for incitement, said Tetsuo Kitada, deputy chief of mission of the Japanese Embassy. The sentences were to be served concurrently. A charge of violating immigration law is believed to still be pending.

     The electronic transactions law covers offenses that involve spreading false or provocative information online, and carries a prison term of seven to 15 years. Incitement is a catch-all political law covering activities deemed to cause unrest, and has been used frequently against journalists and dissidents, usually with a three-year prison term.

     Kubota was arrested on July 30 by plainclothes police in Yangon, the country's largest city, after taking photos and videos of a flash protest against Myanmar's 2021 takeover by the military, which ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

     Kubota was the fifth foreign journalist detained in Myanmar after the military seized power. U.S. citizens Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, who worked for local publications, and freelancers Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan were eventually deported before serving complete prison sentences.

     Roughly 150 journalists in all have been arrested, with more than half released, but the media remains under tight restrictions. Free media are forced to operate underground or from abroad.

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On this day in 1866 ...

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden, one of the world's foremost inventors of radio technology, was born near East Bolton, Que. He discovered the so-called heterodyne principle, the basis for all modern broadcasting. In 1906, he achieved two-way voice transmission by radio between Machrihanish, Scotland and Brant Rock, Mass. On Christmas Eve 1906, he made the first public broadcast of music and voice. After losing control of his company in 1910, he lived in relative seclusion. He died in 1932.

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In entertainment ...

Oscar-winning actors Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche, as well as other French screen and music stars, have filmed themselves chopping off locks of their hair in a video to support protesters in Iran. The video, released Wednesday on Instagram and hashtagged HairForFreedom, comes as Iran is engulfed by anti-government protests. They were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code. Binoche said ``for freedom'' as she hacked off a large handful of her hair. Dozens of women took part. They included actors Charlotte Rampling and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who was also filmed cutting hair off her mother, singer Jane Birkin.

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Did you see this?

      An expert in bear behaviour says an attack on a family in northeastern British Columbia that left two women with critical injuries appears to have been a rare example of a ``predaceous'' attack by a black bear.

     Ellie Lamb, director of community outreach for the Get Bear Smart Society, said that by knocking down the women near Dawson Creek Monday night then staying close by them for more than an hour, the large boar bear was likely treating humans as food.

     RCMP said they shot the bear dead after it was observed ``guarding'' the injured women, aged 30 and 48, and could not be chased off.

     Lamb, a wildlife guide who serves on several B.C. advisory bodies related to human-bear interaction, said bears could exhibit predatory behaviour towards humans if improperly managed at a young age, but this was extremely uncommon.

     In a ``food-based situation,'' a bear would be ``unwilling to give it up easily,'' said Lamb.  "They would stand guard to make sure they don't lose this food-based situation to another animal.''

     She said officers were left with no option but to kill the bear involved in Monday's attack on Bear Mountain.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.

The Canadian Press