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Awaiting the Grand Princess and a conversion therapy ban; In The News for Mar. 9

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 Mar. 9. What we are watching in Canada ...

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 Mar. 9.

What we are watching in Canada ...

A coronavirus-infected cruise ship that's been floating off the coast of California for days is set to dock in Oakland today, setting the stage for Ottawa to bring the 237 Canadians aboard the Grand Princess back home.

Global Affairs Canada says it has chartered a plane to fly the stranded Canadians to the air force base in Trenton, Ontario, though it has yet to provide a timeline for when that will happen.

There are 21 people diagnosed with COVID-19 aboard the Grand Princess, but there's been no word on the nationalities of the patients.

The ship had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of at least 20 cases, including one death, after a previous voyage.

Several people in Canada who were on that earlier voyage have since tested positive for the illness.

The government says those currently on the Grand Princess will be screened for symptoms before they board the plane to Canada.

Symptomatic passengers will stay in the U-S for further assessment, while passengers without symptoms will be quarantined for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.

In Canada over the weekend, the COVID-19 case count climbed past 60, with 32 diagnoses in Ontario, 27 in B.C, two in Quebec and one in Alberta. Several other cases are considered "presumptive" and have to be confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.


Also this ...

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is poised to introduce a bill that would outlaw therapy intended to alter a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Justice Minister David Lametti and Diversity Minister Bardish Chagger plan to discuss the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code at a news conference today.

Mandate letters issued in December directed the ministers to table legislation to ban conversion therapy and take needed steps with the provinces and territories.

In their election platform, the Liberals called conversion therapy a scientifically discredited practice that targets vulnerable Canadians.

The party added there is international consensus in the medical community that the practice does not work.

While promising legislation, the Liberals have also emphasized the issue involves regulation of the health profession — a provincial and territorial responsibility.


ICYMI (in case you missed it) ...

Teck Resources says it's baffled over the virtual disappearance of a rare fish from a lengthy stretch of a long-contaminated river downstream from the company's coal-mining operations in southeastern British Columbia.

A recent survey of cutthroat trout, a species of special concern, in the Fording River immediately downstream from the mines found numbers of the prized game fish have unexpectedly collapsed. Stretches of river that teemed with hundreds of adults and juveniles were empty of fish two years later.

Survey teams working for the company in 2017 estimated 76 adult fish per kilometre in the 60-kilometre stretch of river from Teck's four mines to the town of Elkford, B.C. By late 2019, the estimate was nine.

Over the entire distance, water that held nearly 3,700 fish in the fall of 2017 had just 66 by last October.

"We found that it was 74 per cent lower for juveniles and 93 per cent lower for adults," said Teck spokesman Doug Brown. "We don't know what factors contributed to that."

Contamination from Teck's mines into the rivers of the Elk River watershed are a long-standing problem. Coal mining releases selenium, an element which in large amounts is toxic to wildlife and humans.


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

WASHINGTON — Two members of Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz and congressman Paul Gosar, say they are isolating themselves after determining they had contact at a political conference with a man who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Cruz says he had brief contact with the man at the Conservative Political Action Conference nearly two weeks ago and would spend the next few days at his home in Texas until a full 14 days had passed since their interaction.

Gosar says he had sustained contact with the man at CPAC and that he and three members of his senior staff are under self-quarantine. The office of the Arizona Republican will be closed for the week.

Meanwhile, the two top Democratic leaders in Congress are calling on President Donald Trump to support a series of steps to help Americans deal with the coronavirus outbreak — from paid sick leave to widespread and free testing and other moves.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer say Trump should put the health and safety of the public first, and that such steps should take priority over moves to help companies deal with financial losses — like tax cuts for corporations.

Among the steps they are pushing: paid sick leave for workers impacted by the quarantine orders and enhanced unemployment insurance for workers.


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

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The state oil giant Saudi Aramco has seen its shares drop by 10 per cent as Riyadh stock market opens, halting trading.

The Tadawul market only allows stocks to fluctuate by 10 per cent a day, meaning it halted traded early today as the market opened.

It came as global oil prices suffered their worst losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War.

Other Mideast markets fell as well as the new coronavirus has affected global energy prices and OPEC failed to make a production cut deal with Russia last week.

Boursa Kuwait shut down within 30 minutes of opening today as stocks again dropped by 10 per cent, the third such emergency halt to trading in recent days.

COVID-19 has hit travel hard and threatens to slow economies around the world.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Mar. 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press