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B.C's smoking wildfires and Annamie Paul's reprieve: In The News for July 19

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 July 19 ... What we are watching in Canada ... VICTORIA — The B.C.

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 July 19 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

VICTORIA — The B.C. government says accommodations for wildfire evacuees are filling up as the flames and smoke from numerous blazes spread, forcing more people from their homes and contributing to an eerie, acrid haze that's blanketing cities in neighbouring Alberta.

Emergency Management BC says in many communities, accommodations are reaching capacity and it encourages anyone who self-evacuated to a larger community due to smoky conditions to consider returning home.

It notes that since smoky conditions shift and move, self-evacuating to another community won't guarantee a person's exposure will be reduced.

Evacuations continued in B.C. this weekend, with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the Regional District of Kootenay expanding orders for people to leave their homes.

Smoke from the fires in B.C., as well as others in northern Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwest Ontario, has resulted in special air quality advisories across much of the West.

Environment Canada meteorologist Justin Shelley says that while smoke issues in Alberta last week were largely due to the B.C. fires, a wind change has meant most of the smoke in cities like Edmonton and Calgary is now coming from other wildfires in northern Saskatchewan.

"It's a multi-layered, smoky mess," Shelley said from Edmonton, explaining that wind directions differ depending on altitude, so smoke can be blowing from different provinces at different levels.

The BC Wildfire Service has said there are more than 300 fires burning in British Columbia. The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, meanwhile, said Friday that there were well over 100 active fires in that province.


Also this ...

OTTAWA — Annamie Paul is no longer staring down the barrel of a booting from her perch atop the Green party.

Party executives have called off a non-confidence vote that was slated for Tuesday and could have led to the leader's ouster, according to two party sources who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The vote by federal council would have required support from three-quarters of the 13-member governing body in order to proceed to a party-wide vote the following month at a general meeting, where an ultimate judgment on Paul's leadership could have been rendered by the grassroots.

A party membership review, launched last week by Green interim executive director Dana Taylor, that would suspend Paul's membership, has also been shelved for the time being, the sources say. 

It was not clear why the vote and review were nixed.

Green spokeswoman Rosie Emery said the party has no comment, but that Paul would hold a press conference this morning.

The party has been riven by feuding and factionalism for months as Paul, who was elected leader in October 2020, struggles to steer the Greens in a new direction.


And this ...

UNDATED — As provinces start to ease or lift pandemic-related public health restrictions, First Nations across the country are welcoming back celebrated ceremonies.

Powwow season has started.

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation in central Alberta hosted their annual three-day powwow at the beginning of July after the province opened back up on Canada Day. 

Organizer Patricia Alexis says the event was the biggest one yet with thousands attending and about 700 dancers participating. 

The nation, like many others, had to cancel the event last year because of the pandemic. 

Peepeekisis Cree Nation is set to host their powwow on July 23. 

The community decided to go ahead with it after Saskatchewan lifted its restrictions earlier this month. 

Headman Richard Ironquil says going ahead with the celebrations means some members can return home for the first time since the pandemic started.

Waywayseecappo First Nation in southwestern Manitoba is also hosting a powwow at the end of the month after residential school survivors in the community said they needed an outlet to heal.


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

WASHINTON, D.C. — Texas Democrats are starting a second week of holing up in Washington to block new voting laws back home. 

More than 50 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives have plans today to continue a media blitz in the nation's capital and pressure Congress to act on federal voting rights. 

But there are few signs that legislation stalled in the Senate has budged since Texas Democrats' whirlwind arrival in Washington last week. 

Democrats say they are committed to stay out of Texas until the special legislative session ends in early August.

Also this ...

BLY, Ore. — Erratic winds and parched Oregon forests are adding to the dangers for firefighters as they battle the largest wildfire in the United States. 

The Bootleg Fire is considered one of the largest in modern Oregon history and is burning an area about the size of Los Angeles. 

Meteorologists predict critically dangerous fire weather through at least today, including lightning that could ignite new fires. 

Thousands of people face evacuation orders as several other fires also rage throughout West Coast states. 

Officials say there are about 70 active large fires and complexes of multiple blazes active across the United States.


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

TOKYO — Tens of thousands of visiting athletes, officials and media are descending on Japan for a Summer Olympics unlike any other. 

There will be no foreign fans, no local fans in Tokyo-area venues. 

A surge of virus cases has led to yet another state of emergency. And a local vaccination campaign is struggling to keep up. 

As athletes and their entourages arrive, they’ll be confined to a bubble. 

Government minders and GPS will try to track visitors’ every move; booze will be curtailed or banned, and, through it all, there will be the inescapable knowledge of the suffering COVID has brought here and around the world.  

It will all add up to an utterly surreal Olympics.  


Also this ...

BERLIN — German officials are defending their preparations for flooding in the face of the raging torrents last week that caught many people by surprise and left over 180 people dead in Western Europe. 

But they concede that they will need to learn lessons from the disaster. 

Efforts to find any more victims and clean up the mess left behind by the floods across a swath of western Germany, eastern Belgium and the Netherlands continued today as floodwaters receded. 

The downpours that led to usually small rivers swelling at vast speed in the middle of last week had been forecast, but warnings of potentially catastrophic damage didn’t appear to have found their way to many on the ground.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson says being forced to hit pause during the COVID-19 pandemic wound up being a "blessing in disguise" for his band.

Last year, the group was partway through recording a new album at Robertson’s cottage near Peterborough, Ont., when a brief hiatus for March break turned into an indefinite lockdown with their families.

It took months before the Ladies reunited at a Toronto recording space to finish what became "Detour de Force," their 16th studio album released last Friday.

The shakeup helped inspire a politically edged pop sound that Robertson says reflects our turbulent times.

Several songs dive into heavy topics with a sprinkle of the band’s lighthearted humour.

Robertson says lyrics touch on the climate crisis, an encounter with a flat-earther and the rabbit holes of conspiracy theories he's watched people fall into as they spent more time online.

"This wondrous technology, which should be uniting and enlightening us, is tearing us apart," he said.

"People ... don't trust facts anymore and that’s a pretty dangerous place to be in. We saw it play out during this pandemic. People couldn't even decide on objective truth. They didn't trust health experts, they didn't trust scientists."



Dolores Claman, the woman behind the catchy tune that used to introduce CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcasts, has died at 94.

Claman's daughter Madeleine Morris said her mother died in Spain last week, about two years after she was diagnosed with dementia.

"She was a good, ripe old age, and she had an incredible life," Morris told The Canadian Press. "I'm teary from time to time, but mostly I'm thankful she's in peace."

Claman was born in Vancouver and grew up with an opera singer for a mother. She had graduated from high school by 16 and later trained as a concert pianist at the Juilliard School in New York, said Morris.

At Juilliard, Claman decided she would rather be a composer and developed a love of jazz, Morris recalled.

After graduating and the end of the Second World War, her mother moved to England and met and married Richard Morris.

They later moved to Toronto and co-wrote thousands of jingles, including  "A Place To Stand" with its popular "Ontari-ari-ari-o" lyric for the 1967 Expo.

Claman was working for Maclaren Advertising in 1968 when she was hired to write the theme song that opened CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcasts.

She never expected the song, often called Canada's second anthem, to become as successful as it did and said it wasn't until at least 10 years after the tune's debut that she really realized its popularity.

"Some of my son’s friends at school thought I was amazing. They came to the door to see me. And it became more and more popular," Claman told The Canadian Press in 2016.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2021

The Canadian Press

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