In The News for Feb. 9 : Canada mourns victims of Montreal daycare bus attack

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 Feb. 9 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Quebec Premier François Legault is to visit a Montreal suburb today where a transit driver crashed a bus into a daycare, killing two children and injuring six others.

Legault says he will be joined by the leaders of Quebec’s opposition parties to offer support to the families and daycare workers affected by Wednesday’s tragedy.

Witnesses say the suspect was acting delirious after exiting the bus, tearing off his clothes and screaming as several people restrained him on the ground before police arrived.

Pierre Ny St-Amand, who is 51, was arrested at the scene and charged with two counts of first-degree murder as well as seven other charges, including attempted murder and aggravated assault.

Health officials said Wednesday they did not fear for the lives of the six injured children, who were hospitalized.

The bus crash sparked a wave of support from across the country, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying all Canadians are grieving and promising the government will do “whatever we can” to support the families.

Also this …

An annual survey on how trusting Canadians are suggests their faith in governments is rebounding as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to fade.

The 2023 CanTrust Index published by Proof Strategies surveyed 1,502 adults online between Jan. 5 and Jan. 13 but cannot be given a margin of error because internet polls are not considered random samples.

Last year’s survey suggested after two years of pandemic anxiety, lockdowns and ricocheting COVID-19 rules, trust in governments had plummeted to new lows with just 22 per cent of those surveyed saying they trusted governments.

This year that rose to 37 per cent, the highest it has been in this survey since 2018.

When asked whether they see political parties as a “unifying force” or “divisive force” in Canadian society, 56 per cent of those surveyed said they were divisive.

NDP supporters were the most likely to say parties are divisive, at 65 per cent, compared with 62 per cent of Conservative supporters. Liberals supporters were the least concerned about it, with 52 per cent listing political parties as divisive.

Some organizations that had bad press in 2022 took a hit in the trust factor. CTV, whose high-profile firing of longtime national news anchor Lisa LaFlamme was met with a swift public backlash, saw its trust fall from 50 per cent to 43 in 2023.

Trust in Hockey Canada, which saw its entire board of directors resign amid investigations of their handling of sexual misconduct allegations against players, sat at 30 per cent. There was no 2022 reading for Hockey Canada.

Rogers, the telecom giant that had a massive outage that left millions of Canadians with no internet access or phones for 19 hours in July, saw its trust level fall slightly from 32 per cent to 29 per cent.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

OMAHA, Neb. _ The fiery derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals when it went off the tracks _ sending a huge plume of smoke in the air and forcing residents of a small Ohio town to evacuate _ has highlighted the potentially disastrous consequences of train accidents and raised questions about railroad safety.

The railroad industry is generally regarded as the safest option for most goods and federal data show accidents involving hazardous materials are exceedingly rare. But with rails crossing through the heart of nearly every city and town countrywide, even one hazardous materials accident could be disastrous, especially in a populated area.

Rail unions believe the industry has gotten riskier in recent years after widespread job cuts left workers spread thin.

“It raises all kinds of questions,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told “Fox & Friends” this week when he was asked whether hazardous materials are too dangerous to transport by rail.

About half of the 4,800 residents in the eastern Ohio town of East Palestine and those in the surrounding area, including parts of Pennsylvania, had to evacuate as officials monitored air and water quality following a controlled burn of chemicals released from damaged tank cars. The evacuation order was lifted Wednesday after the air was deemed safe.

“I’m scared to go back home, ” resident Brittany Dailey said Monday before the order was lifted. “I’m eventually going to have to go back, but it makes me want to sell my house and move at this point.”

Ian Jefferies, head of the Association of American Railroads trade group, said 99.9 per cent of all hazardous materials shipments reach their destinations safely.

Federal Railroad Administration data showed hazardous chemicals were released during 11 train accidents countrywide last year, out of roughly 861 million kilometres, with only two injuries reported. In the past decade, releases of hazardous materials peaked at 20 in both 2018 and 2020.

Railroads try to route hazardous materials shipments on the safest path. Most of the worst derailments in recent years happened in rural areas, but in 2013 a derailment in Canada killed 47 people in the town of Lac-Megantic and caused millions of dollars in damage. A 2005 derailment in Graniteville, South Carolina, killed nine people and injured more than 250 after toxic chlorine gases were released.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

GAZIANTEP, Turkey _ Rescuers pulled more survivors from beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings Thursday, but hopes were starting to fade of finding many more people alive more than three days after a catastrophic earthquake and series of aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria, killing more than 16,000.

Emergency crews working through the night in the city of Antakya were able to pull a young girl from the ruins of a building and also rescued her father alive two hours later, news agency IHA reported.

In Diyarbakir, east of Antakya, rescuers freed an injured woman from a collapsed building in the early morning hours but found the three people next to her in the rubble dead, the DHA news agency reported.

In addition to 12,873 people killed in Turkey, the country’s disaster management agency said more than 60,000 have been injured. More than 2,900 people have been reported dead on the Syria side of the border.

Tens of thousands are thought to have lost their homes. In Antakya, former residents of a collapsed building huddled around an outdoor fire overnight into Thursday, wrapping blankets tightly around themselves to try and stay warm.

Experts said the survival window for those trapped under the rubble or otherwise unable to obtain basic necessities was closing rapidly. At the same time, they said it was too soon to abandon hope.

“The first 72 hours are considered to be critical,” said Steven Godby, a natural hazards expert at Nottingham Trent University in England. “The survival ratio on average within 24 hours is 74 per cent, after 72 hours it is 22 per cent and by the fifth day it is six per cent.”

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the hard-hit province of Hatay on Wednesday, where residents have criticized the government’s efforts, saying rescuers were slow to arrive.

According to the disaster management agency, more than 110,000 rescue personnel were now taking part in the effort and more than 5,500 vehicles, including tractors, cranes, bulldozers and excavators had been shipped.

On this day in 1966 …

The NHL announced it would double to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season. The six new teams were the California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues.

In entertainment …

Canadian musicians are worried about their prospects of touring in the United States after Homeland Security proposed to increase visa fees for international entertainers.

The federal agency proposed a rate increase of more than 250 per cent, which would bring the fee to 16-hundred U-S dollars from around 460 dollars currently. 

The Canadian Federation of Musicians says this would directly affect early and mid-career musicians and could completely bar them from entering the U-S amid inflation and rising costs of living.

The union also says touring in the United States offers Canadian and international musicians a more sustainable option, where bigger markets are closer and larger audiences can be reached.

The Department of Homeland Security is accepting comments on the proposed rate increase for P and O Visas until March 6.

The musicians’ union says it’s doing whatever it can to lobby against the proposed fees and says Canadians should reach out to their American counterparts and write or call their representatives.

Did you see this?

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 during pregnancy passes along protection against infection and hospitalization to newborns, a Canadian study says.

The research, published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) on Wednesday evening, found that protection against COVID-19 for infants was most effective when mothers got their second or third dose of mRNA vaccine during pregnancy.

A booster shot during pregnancy bolstered protection against the Omicron variant in particular, said the study authors from the Canadian Immunization Research Network.

Canadian infectious diseases specialists, obstetrician-gynecologists and immunologists have long urged pregnant people to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations _ including boosters _ because they are at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected. That in turn can harm the fetus, they say.

This study shows that getting vaccinated during pregnancy is also “of great benefit to the infant” after they’re born, said Dr. Deborah Money, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who specializes in infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia.

Money, who was not involved in the study, said the Canadian findings are consistent with existing international research.

The researchers found that maternal vaccination protected the baby against COVID-19 infection for the first eight weeks after they were born.

There is currently no COVID-19 vaccine available for babies until they reach six months of age.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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