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Fiona recovery continues and Russia formalizes annexation: In The News for Oct. 5

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. 5 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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A snapped power pole hangs over a street in New Glasgow, N.S. on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 following significant damage brought by post tropical storm Fiona. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

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. 5 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The desire to quickly rebuild after post-tropical storm Fiona is running up against challenges that existed before the hurricane-force winds left a trail of destruction in Nova Scotia: the rising cost of construction material and widespread skilled labour shortages.

It's too early to put a price on the damage caused by Fiona, but Public Works Minister Kim Masland says the rebuilding effort will be competing for labour with ongoing construction projects; driving up prices and extending timelines.

"No question, there is going to be cost pressures going forward," Masland said after a recent cabinet meeting. "But we are going to need to work through those and make sure that we're delivering safe and reliable roads to Nova Scotians."

The minister said that prior to the storm, the province had cancelled six existing bridge and road projects this year due to higher-than-expected costs. Some cost estimates, she said, are coming in extremely high, which she attributed to the rising price of steel, diesel, asphalt and labour.

Duncan Williams, president of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, says the demand for skilled tradespeople is also extremely high. He estimates that about 2,000 to 3,000 additional workers were needed for ongoing projects well before the storm hit.

The government said last week in an economic update that capital spending on highways and other infrastructure will cost $73 million more than budgeted for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

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Also this ...

There is no way to enforce building or fire codes on First Nations and pursuing a legislative fix would require significant time and money, federal officials warn in an internal briefing document.

But Blaine Wiggins, the senior director of the Indigenous Fire Marshals Service, said that enforcement gap has "catastrophic" consequences.

House fires have long posed a major safety risk to those living on reserve, with several children dying in blazes that broke out in communities earlier this year in southern Alberta and northern Ontario. 

Indigenous leaders and experts tie the high number of deadly house fires on reserves to a lack of proper housing and overcrowding, as well as insufficient funding and education around fire protection.

Both the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada have called on Ottawa to pass legislation to apply building and fire codes to First Nations communities, and mandate inspections. 

The document, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, says the department can make sure the infrastructure it funds adheres to such codes but the only other enforcement option for individual First Nations is by passing "ad hoc bylaws."

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

U.S. President Joe Biden will visit hurricane-ravaged Florida with a pledge that federal, state and local governments will work as one to help rebuild homes, businesses and lives, putting politics on mute, for now, to focus on those in need.

Hurricane Ian has resulted in at least 84 people confirmed dead, including 75 in Florida, as hundreds of thousands of people wait for power to be restored. Biden planned to meet Wednesday with residents and small business owners in Fort Myers, Florida, and to thank government officials providing emergency aid and removing debris.

Joining Biden in Florida will be two of his most prominent Republican critics: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott, according to the White House and Scott's spokesman. Biden and DeSantis have had a multitude of differences in recent years over how to fight COVID-19, immigration policy and more. In recent weeks, they tussled over the governor's decision to put migrants on planes or buses to Democratic strongholds, a practice that Biden has called "reckless."

Still, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre suggested Tuesday that it would be inappropriate for them to focus on political differences. That message of bipartisan unity marks a difference from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who at times threatened to withhold aid to Democratic officials who criticized him, including Govs. Gavin Newsom of California and Andrew Cuomo of New York.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed laws absorbing four Ukrainian regions into Russia, a move that finalizes the annexation carried out in defiance of international law.

Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified treaties making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia. 

The formalities followed Kremlin-orchestrated "referendums" in the four regions that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.

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On this day in 1948 ...

Ottawa announced that former Soviet cipher clerk Igor Gouzenko, whose information from Soviet embassy files sparked Canada's espionage trials, had been issued Canadian citizenship.

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In sports ...

Aaron Judge took a smooth, mighty swing, then broke into a big smile as he trotted around the bases. Heading home, his teammates backed away, letting him touch the plate alone. At last, the New York Yankees slugger had the American League home run record all to himself.

Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris' AL record and setting what some fans consider baseball's "clean" standard. Number 99 hit his record-tying dinger last Wednesday in Toronto.

The Maris family wasn't in Texas after following Judge around for a while, but Roger Maris Jr. tweeted, "Congratulations to Aaron Judge and his family on Aaron's historic home run number 62! It has definitely been a baseball season to remember."

Maris' 61 for the Yankees had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. 

Barry Bonds holds the major league record of 73 home runs, set with the San Francisco Giants in 2001. Along with Bonds' record, Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 for the Chicago Cubs during a four-season span starting in 1998. 

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Did you see this?

Police say two women are critically injured after a black bear attacked a family hiking on cross-country ski club trails on Bear Mountain, south of Dawson Creek in northeastern B.C.

A statement posted to social media by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service says the family of four turned and ran when the bear charged them Monday evening.

The service says the bear chased them and attacked one woman, while another woman and a teenage boy were injured trying to help her.

Officers eventually found the two women, aged 30 and 48, critically hurt with a large male black bear apparently "guarding" the victims and ignoring attempts to scare it off.

The Mounties say officers shot and killed the animal, making way for the victims to be airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2022

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