Five stories in Canada we're watching

Harper at the G7, MPs' spending and 23 new cases of MERS

Darren Calabrese/CP

Darren Calabrese/CP

Five stories in the news today, June 8:


Stephen Harper and his fellow G7 leaders’ began Day 2 of their summit in Germany with a shortened round of talks on climate change. The prime minister’s office a portion of the session was devoted to a discussion of global security threats posed by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria and the ongoing fight against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made the fight against climate change a core part of her sweeping agenda. She’s pushing the G7 to endorse a pledge to reach zero carbon emissions, but Canada and Japan are holdouts.


As the very existence of the Senate is called into question over less than $1 million in allegedly improper spending by 30 senators, more than double that number of MPs have been accused over the past five years of mis-spending more than quadruple that amount. Yet unlike the Senate, there have been no external audits, no suspensions, no referrals to the police, no criminal investigations, no charges laid, and no auditor general poring over the minutiae of how MPs spend taxpayers’ dollars.


A B.C court will hear arguments today over whether the provincial government has the right to charge the leader of fundamentalist religious commune with polygamy. Winston Blackmore contends the B.C. government improperly appointed the special prosecutor who recommended charges alleging Blackmore has multiple wives. Blackmore won an earlier legal round, but the province is arguing that it has the right to charge Blackmore and other members of the remote, Mormon breakaway community of Bountiful.


Canada’s municipal leaders have a platform they hope that voters will use to rank parties in the upcoming federal election on issues ranging from transit to housing to expanding disaster assistance programs. Called “Strengthening Canada’s Hometowns,” the platform aims to pressure partly leaders campaigning for the fall federal election to commit to increasing funding for core infrastructure like roads, bridges and water systems by $1.5 billion annually.


For the people who fought Toronto’s devastating SARS outbreak in 2003, the news out of South Korea right now sounds eerily familiar. South Korea is battling a cousin virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome or MERS. It has reported 87 cases and five deaths — with 23 new MERS cases in the past 24 hours alone. And there is a lot of sympathy for the South Koreans among people who work in Toronto’s hospital and public health sectors.

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