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French federal debate and BoC interest rate announcement: In The News for Sept. 8

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 Sept. 8 ... 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 Sept. 8 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The first of two official election debates takes place tonight, with five federal party leaders facing off in what may well be their best chance to sway voters before election day on Sept. 20.

With less than two weeks to go, millions of voters are expected to tune in for tonight's two-hour French debate and Thursday's English debate.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul will participate in both debates.

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier did not meet the criteria established by the independent leaders' debate commission for participation.

Both debates, organized by consortiums of broadcasters, are being held at the Museum of Canadian History in Gatineau, Que., just across the river from Parliament Hill.

The debates come as opinion polls suggest the Liberals and Conservatives are stuck in a tight two-way race, with the NDP and Bloc poised to determine which of the two main parties emerges victorious.

Tonight's French debate begins at 8 p.m. ET.

Topics to be discussed are climate change, the cost of living and public finances, Indigenous Peoples and cultural identity, justice and foreign policy, and health care and the COVID-19 pandemic.


Also this ...

The Bank of Canada will make its latest interest announcement this morning.

Economists expect the central bank will keep its key interest rate target on hold at 0.25 per cent, however they will be looking to see what it has to say about the economy.

The interest rate decision comes ahead of a speech by Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem on Thursday.

The Bank of Canada has said it will keep its trend-setting rate at near-zero until the economy is ready to handle an increase in rates, which it doesn't expect to happen before the second half of 2022. 

The central bank lowered its expectations for economic growth this year in July.

At the time it said it expected the economy to grow 6.0 per cent in 2021, down from its previous forecast of 6.5 per cent. However, it raised its outlook for next year to predict growth of 4.6 per cent in 2022, up from its earlier forecast of 3.7 per cent. 


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

NEW YORK — U.S. President Joe Biden says climate change is “everybody's crisis” after touring damage in New Jersey and New York City on Tuesday caused by flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. 

Biden says Ida's path of death and destruction, from Louisiana to the U.S. northeast, is turning believers out of people who once denied that climate change is real. 

Biden says scientists and economists have warned about climate change for years and that the situation has now reached “code red.”

At least 50 deaths are being blamed on the storm in the northeast region alone. 

“The threat is here. It is not getting any better,” Biden said in New York. “The question is can it get worse. We can stop it from getting worse.”

Biden said the threat from wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and other extreme weather must be dealt with in ways that will lessen the devastating effects of climate change.

“We can’t turn it back very much, but we can prevent it from getting worse," he said. Biden added that scientists have been warning for decades that this day would come and that urgent action was needed.

“We don't have any more time."


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

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan that is stacked with veterans of their hard-line rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition. 

The move seems unlikely to win the international support the new leaders desperately need to avoid an economic meltdown. 

Appointed as interior minister was Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a US$5 million bounty on his head and is believed to still be holding at least one American hostage. He headed the feared Haqqani network that is blamed for many deadly attacks and kidnappings. 

The announcement came hours after Taliban fired their guns into the air to disperse protesters in Kabul and arrested several journalists.

Drawn mostly from Afghanistan’s dominant Pashtun ethnic group, the cabinet's lack of representation from other ethnic groups also seems certain to hobble its support from abroad.

As much as 80 per cent of Afghanistan's budget comes from the international community, and a long-running economic crisis has worsened in recent months. Near daily flights from Qatar bring in humanitarian aid, but the needs are massive, and the Taliban can hardly afford isolation.

In announcing the cabinet, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid emphasized that the appointments were temporary. He did not say how long they would serve and what would be the catalyst for a change.


On this day in 1987 ...

Canadian scientists with the federal government confirmed that a large hole in the ozone layer had formed above the Arctic in the previous year. On Sept. 15, diplomats from around the world reached an agreement in Montreal on a pact to protect the ozone layer. The treaty called for industrialized countries to reduce their use of chloro-fluorocarbons by 50 per cent over a 10-year period.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — Montreal filmmaker Denis Villeneuve says the 1965 novel that spawned the feature "Dune" was a seminal part of his teenage years, when he devoured European sci-fi comics, discovered cinema and dreamt of making films about worlds beyond ours.

The epic interstellar story of warring families and a young antihero lingered in the back of his mind ever since, and now his vision of author Frank Herbert's tale hits the biggest of screens Saturday as a world exclusive IMAX special event at the Toronto International Film Festival. 

"I like when projects have deep roots inside me, and 'Dune' has the deepest," Villeneuve, 53, said in a recent video interview from Montreal.

"I read this book decades ago, so it's something that, through the years, I kept being fascinated by this world, where I was feeling it was more and more relevant."

It wasn't until a few years ago that Villeneuve felt ready to take on the sweeping fantasy, which stars Timothée Chalamet as protagonist Paul Atreides, who is seen as the "chosen one" to save colonized planets. Rebecca Ferguson stars as his mother and Oscar Isaac plays his father, who accepts stewardship of a dangerous desert planet that holds "spice," the most valuable item in the universe.

"It's not a project that I would try to do 10 years ago," said Villeneuve, who directed, co-produced and co-wrote the "Dune" screenplay with Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth. 

"I was ready now to do it because of the amount of technical knowledge." 

That knowledge came from years of directing potent stories with moody visuals and sound — from 2010's Academy Award-nominated Canadian drama "Incendies" to recent Oscar-winning sci-fi spectacles "Arrival" and "Blade Runner 2049."



MADRID — Health authorities in Spain are blaming human error for the switching of two baby girls in a maternity ward almost 20 years ago. 

The mix-up came to light after one of them discovered by chance through a DNA test as a teenager that she wasn’t the daughter of her presumed parents. 

The woman, now 19, who discovered she had been given to the wrong parents is demanding compensation of US$3.5 million. The other woman who was handed to the wrong parents has reportedly been informed of the mistake. 

Health officials said improved systems for recording births mean the same mistake couldn't happen now.

“It was a human error and we haven’t been able to find out who was to blame,” Sara Alba, health chief of Spain’s northern La Rioja region, told a news conference Tuesday.

“The systems back then were different and weren’t as computerized as they are now,” Alba said, offering assurances it couldn’t happen again.

The newborns were mixed up in 2002 after being born five hours apart at a hospital in La Rioja. They were both in incubators because they were born underweight.

Neither woman was identified.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2021

The Canadian Press