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Evening Brief: Flood threat worsens in Ottawa


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The Lead

About 400 troops are being deployed to Ottawa to help communities and households dealing with rising floodwaters after Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency in the city.

On Friday morning, members of the Canadian Armed Forces began to arrive in Ottawa to help with sandbagging and other mitigation efforts as water levels along the Ottawa River creep up. A rainfall warning in effect for the city could make matters much worse.

As the CBC reports, officials say this year’s flooding could exceed 2017’s levels by 40 to 50 centimetres in some parts of the city by the middle of next week. Troops arrived in Constance Bay in Ottawa’s northwest just before 9 a.m., with Premier Doug Ford also visiting the community to tour flood affected regions, meet with residents and speak with city officials.

He told reporters Friday morning that he does believe that climate change is one of the reasons eastern Ontario homeowners are facing severe flooding for the second time in the past three years.

Meeting with those affected by the flooding “just rips your heart out,” Ford said, adding that residents can’t be expected to endure this every year.

In Canada

Dominic LeBlanc has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and will temporarily step away from cabinet, he announced this afternoon.

The veteran Liberal MP, currently the minister responsible for intergovernmental relations, northern affairs and internal trade, said today in a statement that following a series of medical tests, after consulting his doctor for what began as flu-like symptoms a few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with the illness. It is his second cancer diagnosis in three years.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will takeover his duties for intergovernmental affairs, while Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett will assume his responsibilities for the North.

Jolson Lim has the full story.

Ethics commissioner Mario Dion is back on the job after taking a temporary leave for health reasons last month.

In a statement, the commissioner’s office said Dion is “feeling well and is happy to be resuming his professional duties.”

The head of Canada’s current regulator for immigration consultants says his organization is set to reform as a new, industry-managed oversight body now being proposed by the Liberal government.

“That’s our intention,” John Murray, president and CEO of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), told iPolitics. “Our preliminary view at this point is, of course, we would.”

The decision to transition will have to come up for a vote among ICCRC’s members. Murray said anecdotally, he’s heard licensed immigration consultants would be in favour of the new college. Lim also has this story.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is downplaying concerns about a private conference he held with oil executives earlier in April to discuss a strategy to defeat the Liberals in the next election.

“I meet with people all the time. I meet with different representatives of many different types of industries,” Scheer said during some pre-election door knocking in Kanata, Ont., the Huffington Post reports.

According to reporting by the Globe and Mail, Scheer and other top Conservatives had a meeting with oil executives on April 11 at the Azuridge Estate Hotel just outside of Calgary. During the meeting they reportedly discussed campaign strategies including using outside interest groups to bolster Tory support.

The federal government posted a surplus of $3.1 billion over the first 11 months of the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to a new Department of Finance estimate. However, several key big ticket spending items rolled out in the 2019 budget are missing in the department’s assessment and will only be recorded once the enabling legislation receives Royal Assent.

With those items included, along with the expected results for March, the results to date are “broadly in line” with the projection for the 2018-19 fiscal year included in March’s budget, says Finance Canada. Marco Vigliotti has this story.

The Ford government says it has budgeted much more for Toronto Public Health than the numbers put forward by the city, but that extra cash could be contingent on the city also ponying up more money for the health agency.

Tensions between the two governments have escalated quickly since the surprise announcement last week that Ontario would stop funding public health agencies at 75 per cent and instead, over the next three years, move to a 60-40 split for public health agencies everywhere but Toronto. Marieke Walsh has this story.

The Liberals are losing another veteran Nova Scotia MP.

Longtime Cape Breton MP Rodger Cuzner announced Friday that he would not seek re-election in this fall’s federal election, reports the CBC.

First elected in 200, Cuzner has won re-election five consecutive times. He served as parliamentary secretary to former prime minister Jean Chrétien n 2003 and has also held the titles of party whip and chair of the Nova Scotia caucus.

Cuzner is perhaps best known in Ottawa for his annual pre-Christmas rendition of Twas the Night Before Christmas, which is always replete with numerous humorous observations on Canadian politics.

He told reporters Friday morning in his hometown of Glace Bay that he’s stepping down because he’s “tired and cranky.” The announcement comes months after friend and fellow Liberal Cape Breton MP Mark Eyking, announced he wouldn’t run for re-election this fall.

Canada’s food manufacturing industry is under “considerable stress” and could see companies leave if this country’s business environment does not become more investment-friendly, a new industry report warns.

Food and Consumer Canada — the sector’s largest trade association — surveyed 26 member companies, who account for 40 per cent of Canada’s total grocery sales, and found tight margins, increased regulatory red tape and ongoing economic uncertainty is undercutting companies’ confidence in the Canadian marketplace. Kelsey Johnson has this story.

The Sprout: Happy National Pretzel Day!

The Drilldown: Sohi ‘confident’ in meeting TMX deadline but no guarantee

The Rebel to Rabble Review: Crossing the fuzzy line

In Other Headlines

With SNC-Lavalin in the past, gap between Liberals and Conservatives tightens: Ipsos poll (Global)

Don’t make election about immigration, corporate Canada tells political leaders (CP)


Sri Lanka will conduct a house-to-house search of the entire country to root out suspects in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings, the president said on Friday.

As the New York Times reports, the terror sweeps announced by president Maithripala Sirisenacome come as fresh violence and a political scandal around warnings before the suicide attacks continue to shake the country.

Seeking to deflect blame for the government’s failure to act on warnings that suicide bombings were imminent, Sirisena also said that officials had not told him of the threat, and vowed a “total reorganization” of Sri Lanka’s security apparatus. Last Sunday’s attacks killed more than 250 people.

Joe Biden is running for the Democratic ticket to be president, but his role as a Senator during the controversial 1991 Supreme Court hearing for Clarence Thomas — and his actions since then — are coming back to haunt him.

Anita Hill, who testified before the all-male Senate judiciary committee then that Thomas had sexually harassed her, told the New York Times in an article published yesterday that Biden had spoken to her a few weeks ago expressing “regret” over what she endured.

However, Hill said the call left her feeling deeply unsatisfied and that she was not convinced that he has taken full responsibility for his conduct at the hearings.

Today, Biden said on “The View” he doesn’t think he treated Hill badly during her questioning before the panel in 1991.

“I did everything in my power to do what I thought was within the rules,” he said. “If you go back and look at what I said and didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly.”

Biden has been criticized for his handling of the hearings as committee chair, which included allowing Hill to be subject to aggressive and misogynistic questioning. The issue also exposes a vulnerability in his candidacy, particularly in the #MeToo era and questions around his touchy interactions with women in public.

Meanwhile, Cyclone Kenneth has killed at least one person and left a trail of destruction in northern Mozambique, destroying houses, ripping up trees and knocking out power, authorities said on Friday.

According to Al Jazeera, the cyclone brought storm surges and wind gusts of up to 280 kilometres per hour when it made landfall on Thursday evening, after killing three people in the island nation of Comoros.

The storm came just six weeks after Cyclone Idai battered the African nation, causing devastating floods and killing more than 1,000 people in the region.

As measles cases spread in the United States, President Donald Trump is telling Americans to “get their shots.”

According to the BBC, nearly 700 cases have been reported across 22 states this year, the highest in more than two decades, with eight months left to go in 2019.

Forty one cases of measles have also been reported in Canada in 2019, according to Health Canada. There is continuing misinformation largely online suggesting vaccines are linked to autism and can cause certain health conditions

“The vaccinations are so important,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

However, Trump has previously linked vaccinations with autism in a tweet from 2012. Public health experts say there is no link.

Looking ahead, Spain will head to the polls this Sunday against the backdrop of regional tensions and a rising far right.

It is the third general election in four years and comes after a failed bid for Catalonian independence in 2017, an issue that has largely defined national politics since then. As Al Jazeera reports, opinion polls show around a quarter of voters remain undecided.

The country has seen the emergence of the far right Vox party, with its message that Spain needs to be saved from Catalan and Basque separatism.

The current prime minister, Pedro Sanchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, called a vote in February after Catalan nationalist and right-wing parties rejected his budget.

In Featured Opinion

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The Kicker

A teacher south of the border is dead serious about not wanting to hear any spoilers to this year’s recently released blockbuster Avengers: Endgame.

Have a great weekend.

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