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An anguished anniversary and Freeland in the hot seat: In The News for Dec. 6

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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 Dec. 6 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

MONTREAL — Today marks the 32nd anniversary of what's widely believed to be Canada's largest mass shooting specifically targeting women.

The shooting at Montreal's École Polytechnique took place on Dec. 6, 1989 when a man opened fire in a classroom, killing 14 women and injuring several others.

A recent spate of femmicides in Quebec has renewed discussion of the issue, but also has some advocates lamenting a lack of progress in the fight to end violence against women.

École Polytechnique has held a number of tributes over the past week which will culminate today. 

Representatives and student associations from the school will lay white roses in front of a commemorative plaque outside the building this morning. 

Fourteen beams of light representing the shooting victims will be projected into the sky from Mount Royal tonight, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers are asking crowds not to gather.

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Also this ...

OTTAWA — Opposition MPs are getting ready to review the Liberals' latest package of pandemic aid and grill Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland about myriad economic issues.

The 12-member House of Commons finance committee is scheduled to meet today to move the aid bill closer to a final vote before MPs leave on their holiday break in two weeks' time.

As part of a compromise to fast-track the legislation, the Liberals agreed to have Freeland sit for at least two hours of questioning before the committee.

That gives opposition members a chance to grill Freeland about issues facing the domestic economy and the government's pandemic response overall. 

NDP finance critic Daniel Blaikie, who is on the committee, says he plans to press Freeland on ways to reverse clawbacks for income-tested benefits to low-income seniors and families whose earnings were buoyed by emergency aid.

The New Democrat adds that his party has concerns about how only workers subject to lockdowns would receive income support, leaving out thousands still struggling.

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And this ...

VANCOUVER — The Trans Mountain pipeline has restarted following a three-week precautionary shutdown during a series of storms that battered southern British Columbia, causing extensive flooding and landslides.

Trans Mountain Corp. says in a statement the pipeline was safely restarted Sunday after all necessary assessments and repairs were completed.

It says some of that work included the construction of "protective earthworks" after flooding exposed sections of the 1,150-km pipeline that carries 300,000 barrels per day of petroleum products from Alberta to B.C.

Trans Mountain, a federal Crown corporation, says it's monitoring the pipeline on the ground, by air and through its control centre after the restart.

It says additional work in the coming weeks will include the "armouring of riverbanks" and adding ground cover or relocating sections of the pipeline.

The B.C. government had asked residents to limit their fuel purchases to 30 litres per visit to a gas station until Dec. 14 in response to the shutdown, and there's no immediate word on when the rationing order will be lifted.

Trans Mountain is the only pipeline in North America that carries both oil and refined products, and the shutdown was the longest in its history.

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

WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials say that while the omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the country, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than delta, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalizations.

President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN's “State of the Union” on Sunday that scientists need more information before drawing conclusions about omicron's severity.

Reports from South Africa, where it emergedand is becoming the dominant strain, suggest that hospitalization rates have not increased alarmingly.

“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci said. “But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to delta.”

Fauci said the Biden administration is considering lifting travel restrictions against noncitizens entering the United States from several African countries. They were imposed as the omicron variant exploded in the region, but U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has blasted such measures as “travel apartheid."

Omicron has been detected in about a third of U.S. states, but delta remains the dominant variant, making up more than 99 per cent of current cases. 

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Also this ... 

WASHINGTON — Americans are remembering Bob Dole, a man who defied the odds in war, only to fall short of his ultimate goal in politics. 

Dole died Sunday. He was 98. 

After paralyzing wounds in the Second World War, Dole willed himself to walk again, and ran for Congress with a right arm too damaged to even shake hands. 

He rose through the Senate ranks to become a long-serving Republican leader and tireless champion of his party. 

But the prize of the presidency eluded him. 

He tried three times, and came closest in his final race, securing the 1996 Republican nomination only to be steamrolled by President Bill Clinton’s reelection machine.

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

BANGKOK — A legal official says a Myanmar court has sentenced the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to four years in prison after finding her guilty of incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions. 

The ruling is the first in a series of cases brought against the 76-year-old Nobel laureate since the army seized power in February, blocking her party from starting a second term in office. 

Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in last year's general election. 

The army, whose allied party lost many seats, claimed massive voting fraud, but independent election observers did not detect any major irregularities.

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Also this...

WELLINGTON — The leader of the Solomon Islands has survived a vote of no-confidence in Parliament following riots in the capital city last month.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told lawmakers in a fiery 90-minute speech that he’d done nothing wrong and would not bow down to “the forces of evil” or to “Taiwan’s agents.” 

At one point he picked up his chair and banged it on the Parliament floor to emphasize a point. Opponents accused him and his government of lying, looting and using Chinese money to cling to power. 

The riots in Honiara grew from a peaceful protest and highlighted long-simmering regional rivalries, economic problems and concerns about the country’s increasing links with China.

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In Sports ... 

TORONTO — A perfect performance from Dane Evans earned the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a Grey Cup rematch.

Evans came off the bench to complete all 16 passes he attempted while rushing for two fourth-quarter TDs to rally Hamilton to a 27-19 road win over the Toronto Argonauts in the East Division final Sunday. 

The Ticats will host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next weekend at Tim Hortons Field.

The Bombers defeated Hamilton 33-12 in the '19 championship game. 

They return following a 21-17 West Division win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday.

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In entertainment ...

JIDDAH — Justin Bieber has performed to a packed crowd in the Saudi city of Jiddah, singing some of his most popular hits on stage to excited fans. 

The Sunday night concert took place even as human rights campaigners and activists called on the Canadian pop star  to cancel his performance over the kingdom’s arrests and crackdown of critics. 

Bieber's model wife, Hailey Baldwin Bieber, posted a supportive video on Instagram of him on stage with the words: “Go Baby.” 

Bieber was the biggest name performer on stage as part of Saudi Arabia's Grand Prix, which saw Lewis Hamilton win Sunday ahead of the last race of the Formula One season.

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Also this ...

WASHINGTON — The Kennedy Center Honors have paid tribute to the careers of two Canadians, folk legend Joni Mitchell and "Saturday Night Live'' mastermind Lorne Michaels, as well as Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. 

During a White House reception, U-S President Joe Biden said Mitchell's songs "touch the deepest parts of our soul" and praised Gordy for "creating one of the most iconic businesses'' in U-S history. 

Last night at the Kennedy Center, Mitchell heard her songs sung by Nora Jones, Brandi Carlile, Ellie Goulding and Brittany Howard, while Gordy's tribute featured a Smokey Robinson speech and performances of Motown hits by Andra Day and Stevie Wonder. 

The night ended with a group performance of Wonder's "Higher Ground.''

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And this ...

LONDON — Tom Holland is trading in his Spidey suit for some tap shoes.

The “Spider-Man” star told The Associated Press that he’ll star as Fred Astaire in an upcoming biopic. 

Producer Amy Pascal recently said she wanted Holland to play Astaire, but Holland had not yet commented on the possibility until Sunday at an event in London. 

While he hasn’t read the script yet, which just came in a week ago, Holland said he’s spoken to Pascal and “will be playing Fred Astaire.” 

The 25-year-old played the title role in “Billy Elliott: The Musical” from 2008 to 2010.  

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ICYMI ...

NEW YORK — A new allegation of sexual harassment against Chris Cuomo emerged just days before CNN announced it was firing the anchor amid an investigation into work he did defending his brother from similar harassment allegations. 

Attorney Debra Katz says she notified CNN of the claims on Wednesday.

CNN suspended Chris Cuomo after details emerged about how he assisted his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as the politician faced sexual harassment allegations earlier this year. 

When it announced his firing Saturday evening, CNN said that “additional information has come to light,” but did not elaborate.

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Also this ...

NEW YORK — Allyship is Dictionary.com’s word of the year. 

The look up site with 70 million monthly users took the unusual step of anointing a word it added just last month. 

The company's John Kelly says allyship first surfaced in the mid-1800s. 

What it means to be an authentic ally has taken on fresh significance as buzz around the word has grown louder. 

One of the aspects of allyship, as it has emerged in recent decades, is how badly it can go. 

Among the dictionary site's definitions for allyship is the role of a person who advocates for inclusion of a “marginalized or politicized group” — in solidarity but not as a member.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2021

The Canadian Press