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French language clash, Ontario health announcement: In The News for Aug. 18

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 Thursday, August 18, 2022.

What we are watching in Canada ...

New census data on French speakers in Quebec has set up a clash between politicians who say the language is in danger and anglophone rights groups who fear the figures will be weaponized against English speakers. 

Quebec Minister of the French Language Simon Jolin-Barette said the census data reported Wednesday shows “beyond any reasonable doubt” that French is at risk in the province.

Eva Ludwig, interim president of the anglophone rights group Quebec Community Groups Network, said she fears the next Quebec government will use the data to justify new restrictions on languages other than French.  

The percentage of Quebec residents who speak French at home has been declining since 2001. The latest census data shows it fell to 77.5 per cent last year from 82.3 per cent 20 years earlier. 

Meanwhile in Quebec, the percentage of residents whose first official language is English rose to 13 per cent in 2021 from 12 per cent in 2016, surpassing more than one million people for the first time. 

Jolin-Barette, the architect of a bill that aims to make French the common language in all areas of Quebec life, said his Coalition Avenir Québec party does not plan to introduce new language legislation if re-elected in October. 

Bill 96, he said, gives the government the tools necessary to protect French. 

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Also this ...

Ontario is set to announce a plan Thursday that aims to stabilize a health-care system wracked by staffing shortages and the repeated temporary closures of hospital emergency rooms. 

Health Minister Sylvia Jones and Premier Doug Ford have said the province is considering all options to improve the system, and have not ruled out further private-sector involvement. 

Jones said one part of the plan to be unveiled Thursday will include the expansion of a pilot program that allows paramedics to avoid taking patients to the ER on every call. 

Thursday will also mark two weeks since Jones directed the College of Nurses of Ontario and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to develop plans to more quickly register internationally educated professionals. 

As part of those directives, Jones told the colleges to prepare reports on their plans in two weeks. 

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

The U.S. government says it will hold talks with Taiwan on a trade treaty in a new sign of support for the self-ruled island democracy claimed by China's ruling Communist Party as part of its own territory. 

The announcement Thursday comes after Beijing held military drills that included firing missiles into the sea around Taiwan following this month's visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

The U.S. Trade Representative's office made no mention of the recent tensions with Beijing in its announcement. It did say the "formal negotiations" were intended to bolster trade and regulatory cooperation, which could entail closer interaction. 

The United States has no official relations with Taiwan but maintains extensive ties through its unofficial embassy, the American Institute in Taiwan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government says official contact with Taiwan such as Pelosi's Aug. 2 one-day visit might embolden the island to try to make its decade-old de facto independence permanent, a step Beijing says would lead to war.

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

A Taliban police spokesman in Afghanistan’s capital says the toll from a mosque bombing has risen to 21 people killed with 33 others wounded in the attack. 

Khalid Zadran, the spokesman for Kabul’s police chief, gave the figures Thursday to The Associated Press after the bombing at the Sunni mosque. 

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack Wednesday, though the Islamic State group’s affiliate in the country has been blamed for a series of similar assaults. 

They've stepped up attacks targeting the Taliban and civilians since the former insurgents’ takeover last August as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their withdrawal from the country.

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On this day in 1920,the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing American women’s right to vote, was ratified as Tennessee became the 36th state to approve it.

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In entertainment ...

Hanae Mori, the trailblazing Japanese fashion designer, has died. She was 96. 

Mori died at her Tokyo home Aug. 11, a few days after developing a mild fever, according to the Hanae Mori Office. No specific cause of death was given. 

She opened her studio in 1951 and was a pioneer of a generation of Japanese designers who achieved global prominence.

Mori was the first Asian woman to join the ranks of haute couture in 1977.

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Did you see this?

To honour the 80th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid, a Canadian non-profit is sending out unique postcards with information about a Second World War soldier who once lived at the address. 

The Juno Beach Centre Association sent out 400 unique postcards to addresses across the country with the name and fate of a soldier who once lived in those places. 

Alex Fitzgerald-Black who is director of the association, says preparations began at the end of last year when employees and volunteers went through service files to see if they could link fallen soldiers' home addresses to current ones.

The raid on Aug. 19, 1942 was the Canadian Army's first major combat against Nazi Germany during the Second World War. 

It backfired and became Canada's bloodiest day of the Second World War, with more than 800 Canadian soldiers killed.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.

The Canadian Press