Conservative leader Andrew Scheer speaks at Conservative election headquarters in Regina, Saskatchewan, on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

In the news: Wexit, Brexit and Trump sparks outrage

There’s been a surge of support for an Alberta separatist group

What we are watching in Canada …

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer offered the Liberals no help Tuesday to try and piece together national unity after an election contest that’s left the country divided on regional lines.

Scheer seized on his party’s success in the popular vote, the complete annihilation of the Liberals in Alberta and Saskatchewan and the re-emergence of a strong Bloc Quebecois as evidence that whatever pleasure the Liberals might take from Monday’s night results has also come at a cost.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent 40 days demonizing the provinces and anyone else who disagreed with him, said Scheer. The choice is his about what happens next.

“Justin Trudeau now has to make a decision if he’s going to change course, have a more co-operative approach with all provinces, or if he’s going to continue down on this path,” Scheer said in Regina.

“We’re going to do everything we can to fight for a united Canada.”

Conservative premiers in the West responded to the election by calling on the Liberals to implement more Conservative-minded policies.

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Also this …

There’s been a surge of support for an Alberta separatist group since the Liberals secured a minority government Monday night, and while political scientists say a split from Canada may not be a real possibility, the anger underlying the movement is serious.

“The idea of Canada has died in the hearts of many, many western Canadians,” said “Wexit” Alberta founder Peter Downing, a former soldier and RCMP officer.

The Liberals managed to hang onto seats in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, but Alberta and Saskatchewan ended up Conservative blue except for one NDP riding in Edmonton.

The VoteWexit Facebook page with its motto “The West Wants Out” went from 2,000 or so members on Monday to nearly 160,000 and counting by Tuesday afternoon. Downing said his group received more than $20,000 in donations and membership fees overnight.

A separate online petition calling for a western alliance and for Alberta to separate was backed by more than 40,000 people.

Downing got the idea for “Wexit” — an apparent play on Brexit in the United Kingdom — late last year when he heard United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney warn of rising separatist sentiment if the Liberal government didn’t back off from policies he said were hostile to the energy sector. Those include the overhaul of environmental reviews and an oil tanker ban off B.C.’s north coast.

“Justin Trudeau is obviously the fuel for it, but Jason Kenney was the spark,” said Downing.

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It’s getting warmer …

Research has found Arctic soil has warmed to the point where it releases more carbon in winter than northern plants can absorb during the summer.

The finding means the extensive belt of tundra around the globe — a vast reserve of carbon that dwarfs what’s held in the atmosphere — is becoming a source of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

“There’s a net loss,” says Dalhousie University’s Jocelyn Egan, one of 75 co-authors of a paper published in Nature Climate Change. “In a given year, more carbon is being lost than what is being taken in. It is happening already.”

The scientists placed carbon dioxide monitors along the ground at more than 100 sites around the circumpolar Arctic to see what was actually happening and took more than 1,000 measurements.

They found much more carbon was being released than previously thought. The results found carbon dioxide emissions of 1.7 billion tonnes a year are about twice as high as previous estimates.

Arctic plants are thought to take in just over one billion tonnes of the gas from the atmosphere every year during growing season. The net result is that Arctic soil around the globe is probably already releasing more than 600 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

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What we are watching in the U.S. …

Stirring up painful memories of America’s racist past, President Donald Trump compared the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry to a lynching, a practice once widespread across the South in which angry mobs killed thousands of black people.

The use of such inflammatory imagery to lash out at the House investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine triggered an outcry from Democratic legislators, some mild rebukes but also some agreement from the president’s Republican allies and condemnation from outside the Washington Beltway. It also led to the unearthing of decades-old comments from some Democratic lawmakers, including now-presidential candidate Joe Biden, comparing the process of impeaching President Bill Clinton to a lynching.

Trump has spent recent days pressuring Republicans to give him stronger support in countering the impeachment investigation.

His tweeted suggestion that they “remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching” came a day after Trump said the GOP needs to “get tougher and fight” against the fast-moving inquiry into whether he tried to withhold U.S. military aid until Ukraine’s government agreed to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and his son.

The White House said later Tuesday that Trump was not comparing impeachment to “one of the darkest moments in American history.” Spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump sent the tweet to point out what he feels is his continued mistreatment by the news media.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world …

For a brief moment, Brexit was within a British prime minister’s grasp.

Boris Johnson won Parliament’s backing for the substance of his exit deal but lost a key vote on its timing, a result that inches him closer to his goal of leading his country out of the European Union — but effectively guarantees it won’t happen on the scheduled date of Oct. 31.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that because of the vote he would recommend that the other 27 EU nations grant Britain a delay in its departure to avoid a chaotic no-deal exit in just nine days.

The good news for the prime minister was that lawmakers — for the first time since Britons chose in 2016 to leave the EU — voted in principle for a Brexit plan, backing by 329-299 a bill to implement the agreement Johnson struck with the EU last week.

But minutes later, legislators rejected his fast-track timetable to pass the bill, saying they needed more time to scrutinize it. The vote went 322-308 against the government.

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Your health … A new study is linking electronics use and unhealthy drinks in kids.

McMaster University researchers have found teens who spend more time watching TV, talking on mobile phones and using social media are more likely to drink sugared or caffeinated drinks.

They examined U.S. data from 32,418 students in Grades 8 and 10 and found those who spent an additional hour per day on TV were at 32 per cent higher risk of exceeding World Health Organization recommendations for sugar.

They were also at a 28 per cent increased risk of exceeding WHO recommendations for caffeine.

Playing video games was only weakly linked to more caffeine while using a computer for school was actually linked to a lower likelihood of exceeding sugar guidelines.

Both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks are linked to obesity, diabetes, dental cavities and poor sleep. Excess caffeine, as found in energy drinks, is associated with headaches, higher blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and chest pain as well as poor sleep.

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Celebrity news …

Get ready for a Howie Mandel documentary.

The project chronicles Mandel’s rise from Toronto carpet salesman to Hollywood personality.

Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich says he’s begun work on a full-length project.

Avrich says he intends to follow Mandel for roughly a year as he performs stand-up shows, launches new projects and spends time with his family.

He’ll begin shooting “Howie’s World: The Howie Mandel Project,” as it’s tentatively titled, next month for a planned release in 2021.

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The Canadian Press


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