Rethinking a sick leave perk and accused cop killers in court: In The News for Jan. 4

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 Jan. 4 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

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OTTAWA - The federal Liberal government is mulling the possibility of barring Canadians who travelled abroad from receiving a sick leave benefit aimed at those who must quarantine due to COVID-19 amid fresh admissions of foreign excursions from a growing list of politicians and a national case count that surpassed 600,000.

The Canada Recovery sickness benefit was launched in the fall to help Canadians who are unable to work because they must quarantine during the pandemic. It pays $500 per week to a maximum of two weeks.

But Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says the government is "actively looking at all options" in the face of questions over whether Canadians who have travelled abroad should be allowed to collect the money.

Controversy over the issue mounted on Sunday as two members of the federal Liberal caucus stepped down from their parliamentary duties after disclosing trips abroad over the holiday period, joining a slew of provincial legislators who also flouted widespread public health advice to stay home as COVID cases skyrocketed.

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CALGARY - Two teens charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Calgary police officer are due in court today for a bail hearing.

The accused -- 19-year-old Amir Abdulrahman and a 17-year-old boy -- were arrested on Friday afternoon after turning themselves in.

They had been wanted in the death of 37-year-old Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who was killed while conducting a traffic stop on New Year's Eve.

Calgary police have said Harnett pulled over an SUV, which then struck and killed him.

They've alleged the younger of the two accused was behind the wheel, while they say Abdulrahman was a passenger.

The pair had their first court appearance on Saturday.

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In Sports ...

EDMONTON - Team Canada is set to meet Team Russia at the first of two semifinal games at the world junior men's hockey championship in Edmonton today.

The winner will play in Tuesday night's gold-medal game against the winner of the second semifinal matchup between Finland and the United States.

The losers of both semifinal games will play in the bronze-medal game, also scheduled for Tuesday.

Canada -- the reigning champs -- and Russia played each other in a pre-tournament game back on Dec. 23, the Canadians winning it 1-0.

Canada blanked the Czechs in a 3-0 quarterfinal win while Russia edged Germany 2-1.

Both teams also met in last year's gold-medal game in the Czech Republic, where Canada defeated Russia 4-3.

In the other semifinal, the Americans will meet Finland.

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U-S President Donald Trump pressured Georgia's Republican secretary of state to "find" enough votes to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state's presidential election, repeatedly citing disproven claims of fraud and raising the prospect of "criminal offence" if officials did not change the vote count, according to a recording of the conversation.

The phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday was the latest step in an unprecedented effort by a sitting president to pressure a state official to reverse the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost.

Trump, who has refused to accept his loss to Democratic president-elect Biden, repeatedly argued that Raffensperger could change the certified results.

"All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have," Trump said. "Because we won the state."

Georgia counted its votes three times before certifying Biden's win by a 11,779 margin, Raffensperger noted: "President Trump, we’ve had several lawsuits, and we’ve had to respond in court to the lawsuits and the contentions. We don’t agree that you have won."

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Also this ...

WASHINGTON — All 10 living former secretaries of defence have joined in cautioning against any attempt to use the military in the cause of overturning November's presidential election.

The former Pentagon chiefs, both Republicans and Democrats, put their names to an opinion article published Sunday in The Washington Post.

The article says the time for questioning the results of the election has passed. And they say that attempting to involve the military in resolving election disputes would take the county "into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory."

While not naming President Donald Trump, the article appears as Trump and his allies continue to falsely claim fraud spoiled November's election.

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

MILAN, Italy - The marriage of carmakers PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is built on the promise of cost-savings in the capital-hungry industry, but what remains to be seen is if it will be able to preserve jobs and heritage brands in a global market still suffering the shakeout from the pandemic.

Shareholders vote today on a deal to create the world’s fourth-largest carmaker, to be called Stellantis, with the capacity to produce 8.7 million cars a year, behind Volkswagen, Toyota and Renault-Nissan, and create 5 billion euros in synergies.

It will put together under one roof French mass-market carmakers Peugeot and Citroen, top-selling Jeep and Italian luxury and sports brands Maserati and Alfa Romeo - pooling companies that have helped define the industry in the United States, France and Italy.

While the tie-up is billed as a merger of equals, the power advantage goes to PSA, whose CEO Carlos Tavares will run Stellantis and hold the tie-breaking vote on the 11-seat board. Tavares is set to take full control of the company early this year, possibly by the end of January.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.

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