A final Papal meeting and raising the price of pollution: In The News for Apr. 1

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 Apr.1 … What we are watching at the Vatican …

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 Apr.1 …

What we are watching at the Vatican…

ROME — First Nations, Inuit and Métis delegates are scheduled today to have a final meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The groups had individual meetings with the Pope earlier this week and expressed hope the Roman Catholic Church would apologize for its role in residential schools. Each group asked that an apology take place in Canada.

Phil Fontaine, a former national chief with the Assembly of First Nations, has said he expects to hear more details about a trip by the Pope to Canada, and a possible apology, at the final meeting.

The meeting is to be much more public than the others, with an expected exchange of prayers and cultural ceremonies.

Fontaine said earlier this week that the pressure on the church is immense after the discovery of unmarked graves at former sites of residential schools across Canada.

“The eyes of the world were upon us here,” he said Thursday after First Nations delegates met with the Pope.

An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools and more than 60 per cent of the schools were run by the Catholic Church.

More than 30 of the official Indigenous delegates have spent the week telling the head of the church about their experiences with residential schools and intergenerational trauma.

The theme of the delegation is Walking Together Toward Healing and Reconciliation.

Beyond the apology, they have asked Catholics to commit to walking a journey of reconciliation. For many delegates that includes returning Indigenous lands, rescinding papal orders such as the Doctrine of Discovery, and turning over all relevant documents.

What we are watching in Canada…

OTTAWA — The national price on pollution will go up another $10 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions as scheduled today in most provinces.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is with standing political pressure to delay or cancel the increase as fuel prices surge due mainly to the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Guilbeault says the government is not going to stall or move backward on its climate action plan, of which the carbon price is seen as a “cornerstone” policy.

Today’s increase brings the total price to $50 per tonne, adding another 2.2 cents to the cost of a litre of gasoline, or 11 cents total.

The federal levy applies directly in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario but British Columbia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are also raising their provincial carbon levies to stay in line.

Quebec and Nova Scotia use cap-and-trade systems and Newfoundland and Labrador will raise its price to $50 a tonne later in 2022.

BC’s price is going to $50 from $45, New Brunswick to $50 from $40 and PEI, which hasn’t raised its levy since 2020, to $50 from $30.

The federal government recently outlined the carbon price rebate amounts for the upcoming year, which for the first time will be paid in instalments rather than all at once.

Only the four provinces directly involved in the federal system receive the rebates, which are intended to prevent families from hurting financially for paying the carbon price while still having an incentive to save more money by using less greenhouse-gas emitting fuel.

The payments vary by province depending on the amount of fossil fuels used, and range from a low of $745 this year in Ontario, to $1,101 in Saskatchewan.

Also this…

OTTAWA — Vaccinated travellers can enter Canada without a COVID-19 test beginning today.

The change will spark a surge in travel bookings both into and out of the country, according to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, although it’s not likely to reach pre-pandemic levels yet.

People could still be randomly tested when they arrive and Health Canada requires anyone coming from outside the country to wear a mask in public for 14 days.

Unvaccinated travellers will be tested upon arrival and again eight days later, and will be required to quarantine for two weeks.

Unvaccinated Canadians and other travellers who are exempt from the vaccine requirement will still need to provide a negative COVID-19 test or evidence enough time has passed after an infection to enter the country.

While the travel and tourism industries are optimistic about the change, there is a possibility the government could reinstate border restrictions in response to rising cases of a more contagious subvariant of Omicron.

What we are watching in the US…

Defying a pandemic and supply chain disruptions, the US economy has cranked out more than 400,000 jobs every month for nearly a year — a blazing winning streak in wildly uncertain times.

And despite surging inflation, the hiring wave likely continued last month in the face of yet another jolt: Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has unsettled the economic outlook and catapulted gasoline prices to painful levels.

Economists surveyed by the data firm FactSet expect the Labor Department’s jobs report for March to show that employers added 478,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate dipped from 3.8 per cent to 3.7 per cent. That would mark the lowest unemployment rate since just before the pandemic struck two years ago, when joblessness reached a 50-year low of 3.5 per cent.

The government will issue the March jobs report at 8:30 am Eastern time Friday.

“With the war in Ukraine, economic uncertainty rising and surging energy prices, we may see a modest slowdown in hiring in March,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at the jobs website Glassdoor. “However, employer demand remains strong, which should sustain a healthy level of hiring.”

The booming US job market reflects a robust rebound from the brief but devastating coronavirus recession, which wiped out 22 million jobs in March and April 2020 as businesses shut down or cut hours and Americans stayed home to avoid infection.

But the recovery has been swift. Fueled by generous federal aid, savings amassed during the pandemic and ultra-low borrowing rates engineered by the Federal Reserve, US consumers have spent so fast that many factories, warehouses, shipping companies and ports have failed to keep pace with their customer demand. Supply chains have snarled, forcing up prices.

What we are watching in the rest of the world…

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian troops left the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear site early Friday after returning control to the Ukrainians, authorities said, as eastern parts of the country braced for renewed attacks and Russians blocked another aid mission to the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Ukraine’s state power company, Energoatom, said the pullout at Chernobyl came after soldiers received “significant doses” of radiation from digging trenches in the forest in the exclusion zone around the closed plant. But there was no independent confirmation of that.

The exchange of control happened amid growing indications the Kremlin is using talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as cover to regroup, resupply its forces and redeploy them for a stepped-up offensive in the eastern part of the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russian withdrawals from the north and center of the country were just a military tactic to build up forces for new powerful attacks in the southeast. A new round of talks between the countries was scheduled Friday, five weeks into a conflict that has left thousands dead and driven 4 million Ukrainians from the country.

“We know their intentions,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation. “We know that they are moving away from those areas where we hit them in order to focus on other, very important ones where it may be difficult for us .”

“There will be battles ahead,” he added.

Meanwhile, as Moscow’s forces bog down in Ukraine, many young Russians of draft age are increasingly jittery about the prospect of being sent into combat. Making those fears particularly acute is an annual spring conscription that begins Friday and aims to round up 134,500 men for a one-year tour of military duty.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu pledged at a meeting of the military brass this week that the new recruits won’t be sent to front lines or “hot spots.”

But the statement was met with skepticism by many in Russia who remember the separatist wars in the southern republic of Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s, when thousands of poorly trained young men were killed.

On this day in 1564…

All Fools’ Day is said to have originated when King Charles IX of France changed the calendar. Prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the date was observed as New Year’s Day by cultures as varied as the Roman and the Hindu.

In entertainment…

BOSTON — Chris Rock received several standing ovations before he told one joke at his first comedy show since Will Smith slapped him in the face onstage at the Oscars.

Rock only briefly addressed the slap to the sold out crowd Wednesday in Boston, saying he was “still kind of processing what happened.”

Ticket prices to Rock’s shows skyrocketed after Smith took to the awards stage Sunday and slapped Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith striking Rock.

Its board of governors met Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith.

Meanwhile, Oscars producer Will Packer says Los Angeles police were ready to arrest Smith after he slapped Rock.

In a clip released Thursday of an interview with “Good Morning America,” Packer says police called the incident battery and laid out the options for Rock.

But Packer says Rock was dismissive of the idea.

Did you see this?

VANCOUVER — A new government office dedicated to hydrogen projects and proposals could help British Columbia reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bolster the economy, the premier says.

John Horgan said the BC Hydrogen Office will allow government to create framework that doesn’t exist, making the province a leader in hydrogen use.

“We currently have a surplus of clean, green electricity, but as we electrify our economy further, we’re going to see a requirement for more clean energy,” he said Thursday.

Developing a hydrogen strategy could lead to a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Horgan said.

The previous Liberal government announced plans for a so-called hydrogen highway shortly before the 2010 Winter Olympics with plans for hydrogen fuel stations between Vancouver and Whistler, but the idea fizzled.

Horgan said the difference is that then it was a novelty, now it’s imperative.

Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, said development in the hydrogen sector will bring more investment to the province.

“Hydrogen development helps BC meet our climate change commitments, it fosters innovation in BC’s economy, and positions BC as a leader in environmental and social responsibility,” he said.

The province said in a news release there are currently 40 hydrogen projects proposed or under construction, representing $4.8 billion in investment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Apr.1, 2022

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