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Gas prices expected to drop, Trudeau visits southern Ontario: In The News for Sept. 2

Last Updated Sep 2, 2022 at 2:30 am MDT

A sign displays the price of a litre of regular grade gasoline at an Esso gas station in Vancouver, on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. The final long weekend of summer will also be the cheapest for Canadian drivers, with gasoline prices heading into the Labour Day holiday the lowest they've been since late February. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

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 Sept. 2 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The final long weekend of summer will also be the cheapest for Canadian drivers, with gasoline prices heading into the Labour Day holiday the lowest they’ve been since late February.

The national average retail price for regular gasoline on Thursday, according to Natural Resources Canada, was 161.1 cents per litre. The last time Canadians saw average gasoline prices in the $1.60 range was during the last week of February, just before the effects of Russia’s Feb. 25 invasion of Ukraine began to be felt at the fuel pumps.

Gasoline prices rose steadily after that, hitting a peak of 215.1 cents per litre in early June. It cost drivers more than $2 a litre, on average, to fill up heading into the Canada Day long weekend, and the August civic holiday wasn’t much better with average prices in the range of 180 cents per litre.

But prices have been declining steadily since August, in part due to the falling price of crude oil and also because of lower U.S. refining margins. On Friday, the October U.S. crude contract was trading at US$86.61 per barrel, its lowest level since late January. 

Vijay Muralidharan, managing director of R Cube Consulting Inc., said what’s happened is a form of demand destruction. Skyrocketing inflation in the U.S., which is the largest global market for gasoline, has forced some drivers to curtail their consumption. And with many economists speculating about the possibility of a global recession, oil traders are getting nervous.

“The war in Ukraine added a 15-cent-per-litre premium to gasoline prices, at its peak,” Muralidharan said. “Now that premium is dissipating somewhat. Not because the war is ending, but because of demand fears. There’s a lot of pessimism in oil markets right now.”

Muralidharan said he believes prices could be sustained at the current level, though if the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries were to decide to raise crude output in response to declining prices, that would send the cost of gasoline spiking again.

According to fuel price tracking website GasBuddy.com, British Columbia has the most expensive gasoline heading into the Labour Day weekend, at an average 185.0 cents per litre. The cheapest gas can be found in Alberta, where the average currently sits at 140.8 cents per litre.

Also this …

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be making stops across Ontario’s Halton Region today. 

The Prime Minister’s Office says Trudeau will meet with parents to discuss affordability this morning.

He will then attend a tree planting session with local youth, where he will talk about climate action. 

Trudeau will later participate in a Labour Day barbecue in the afternoon.

Earlier this week, Trudeau travelled to the Kitchener, Ont., area for a housing announcement. 

He also met with Premier Doug Ford in Toronto, where the two discussed health care and other key priorities.

And this too …

A bail hearing is set to begin today for a Saskatchewan woman accused of faking her death and that of her son and illegally crossing the border into the United States.

The 48-year-old is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon provincial court in the afternoon.

The woman is charged with public mischief and child abduction in contravention of a custody order. 

She also faces two charges in the U.S. related to identity fraud for allegedly crossing the border with fake identification.

Marie Henein is a high-profile Toronto lawyer representing the woman, who cannot be named due to a publication ban that prevents the release of details that may identify the woman’s son. 

The defence has asked that the woman’s surety be her sister, who would supervise the accused if she is granted bail. 

What we are watching in the U.S. …

PHILADELPHIA _ U.S. President Joe Biden charged in a prime-time address that the “extreme ideology” of Donald Trump and his adherents “threatens the very foundation of our republic,” as he summoned Americans of all stripes to help counter what he sketched as dark forces within the Republican Party trying to subvert democracy.

In his speech Thursday at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Biden unleashed the trappings of the presidency in an unusually strong and sweeping indictment of Trump and what he said has become the dominant strain of the opposition party. His broadside came barely two months before Americans head to the polls in bitterly contested midterm elections that Biden calls a crossroads for the nation.

“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” he said before an audience of hundreds, raising his voice over pro-Trump hecklers outside the building where the nation’s founding was debated. He said he wasn’t condemning the 74 million people who voted for Trump in 2020, but added, “There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans,” using the acronym for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

The explicit effort by Biden to marginalize Trump and his followers marks a sharp recent turn for the president, who preached his desire to bring about national unity in his Inaugural address.

Biden, who largely avoided even referring to “the former guy” by name during his first year in office, has grown increasingly vocal in calling out Trump personally. Now, emboldened by his party’s summertime legislative wins and wary of Trump’s return to the headlines, he has sharpened his attacks, last week likening the “MAGA philosophy” to “semi-fascism.”

Wading into risky political terrain, Biden strained to balance his criticism with an appeal to more traditional Republicans to make their voices heard. Meanwhile, GOP leaders swiftly accused him of only furthering political divisions.

Delivering a pre-emptive rebuttal from Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Biden was born, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said it is the Democratic president, not Republicans, trying to divide Americans.

“In the past two years, Joe Biden has launched an assault on the soul of America, on its people, on its laws, on its most sacred values,” McCarthy said. “He has launched an assault on our democracy. His policies have severely wounded America’s soul, diminished America’s spirit and betrayed America’s trust.”

Asked about McCarthy’s criticism, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said earlier Thursday that “we understand we hit a nerve” with the GOP leader, and quoted the Republican’s prior statements saying Trump bore responsibility for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump plans a rally this weekend in the Scranton area.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

ISLAMABAD _ Planes carrying fresh supplies are surging across a humanitarian air bridge to flood-ravaged Pakistan as the death toll surged past 1,200, officials said Friday, with families and children at special risk of disease and homelessness.

The ninth flight from the United Arab Emirates and the first from Uzbekistan were the latest to land in Islamabad overnight as a military-backed rescue operation elsewhere in the country reached more of the three million people affected by the disaster. Multiple officials blamed the unusual monsoon and flooding on climate change, including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who earlier this week called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the deadly crisis.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that the planes brought food items, medicine and tents. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif had planned to travel to UAE on Saturday, but he postponed the trip to visit flood-hit areas at home.

So far, Pakistan has received aid from China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Uzbekistan, U.A.E. and some other countries. This week, the United States also announced to provide $30 million worth of aid for the flood victims.

Pakistan blames climate change for the recent heavy monsoon rains that triggered floods.

According to initial government estimates, the devastation has caused $10 billion in damages.

Earlier this week, the United Nations and Pakistan jointly issued an appeal for $160 million in emergency funding to help the 3.3 million people affected by floods that have damaged over one million homes.

On this day in 1912 …

The first Calgary Stampede began. It was instigated by Guy Weadick, an American trick roper who thought Calgary would be a prime location for a big rodeo. The Stampede, which takes place every July, is one of the largest rodeos in the world.

In entertainment …

Canadian musician Leslie Feist says she’s leaving Arcade Fire’s tour due to sexual misconduct allegations against lead singer Win Butler.

“This has been incredibly difficult for me and I can only imagine how much more difficult it’s been for the people who came forward,” the singer-songwriter write in a message posted to social media on Thursday.

“More than anything I wish healing to those involved.”

Feist had been booked as the opening act for the European leg of the Montreal band’s latest tour, which kicked off in Dublin on Tuesday.

The concerts went ahead just days after U.S. entertainment publication Pitchfork ran an article containing allegations that Butler had inappropriate sexual interactions with four people.

Among the complaints by the accusers were that the 42-year-old musician made unwelcome advances and behaved inappropriately based on power dynamics and gaps in age. One of the accusers told Pitchfork Butler sexually assaulted them two times in 2015 when they were 21 years old and he was 34.

The Canadian Press has not independently verified the accounts outlined in the report, and Butler denies the allegations. In a statement, he said all encounters took place between consenting adults and that he never touched a woman against her will or demanded sexual favours.

Fans and members of the music industry have reacted this week to the allegations against Butler, with some ticket holders calling for Live Nation to refund them for upcoming shows, which include dates in Canada later this year. Meanwhile, several Canadian radio stations have pulled Arcade Fire from their rotation.

Did you see this?

EDMONTON _ Alberta’s lieutenant-governor says it’s not a done deal that she would automatically sign off on a proposal from a United Conservative Party leadership candidate to pass a bill aimed at ignoring federal laws and court rulings.

Salma Lakhani says she would seek legal advice as required, but says she is duty-bound to ensure the Constitution is followed.

“We will try and cross that bridge when we get to it, and we will get the appropriate advice that we need as to whether we can sign, whether it’s against our Constitution,” Lakhani said Thursday when asked about the sovereignty act bill proposed by former Wildrose party leader Danielle Smith.

Lakhani’s signature is required to have any law take effect. She acknowledged that some view her role as purely ceremonial and that she should simply sign any bill that passes the legislature and let the courts handle any disagreements.

She said she doesn’t view her role that way.

“We are a constitutional monarchy, and this is where we keep checks and balances,” she said. “I’m what I would call a constitutional fire extinguisher. We don’t have to use it a lot, but sometimes we do. We want to do the right thing for our people and for our Constitution.”

Lakhani added it’s critical Alberta uphold the rule of law, saying she has firsthand experience after she and others of South Asian origin were expelled from an authoritarian Uganda.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2022.

The Canadian Press