5 Things You Need to Know About What Went Down This Week - October 20

We know you’re busy out there crushing your goals, so we’re keeping you in the loop on what’s going on in the headlines. Powered by Pressed News, here are five things you need to know from this past week—from the election results to a new reading program pairing children with our furry friends in Toronto.

PHOTO CREDIT:  THE STAR

PHOTO CREDIT: THE STAR

1. CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

As predicted, Monday night’s federal election was a tight race. So tight that PM Trudeau’s Liberal Party lost their majority status. The Liberals were unable to successfully win 170 seats (or more) in the House of Commons (out of 338) but still won more seats than any other party, meaning they’ll form a minority government instead. Justin Trudeau is still the PM, but moving forward, the Liberals will need support from other parties to pass laws.

This map shows how Canadians voted across the country. The Conservatives pretty much swept Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Bloc Québécois also had a strong showing and were able to regain official party status, while People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier lost his own seat in Beauce, Quebec. He’s held that seat since 2006. Also notable: Jody Wilson-Raybould won a seat as an Independent.

So, how did we get here?

The 40 days of the election campaign were memorable. There were scandals: TIME Magazine found a picture of Trudeau in brownface, and who can forget SNC-Lavalin. There were protests: protests outside a Maxime Bernier rally that led to the closing and reopening of an immigrant-owned Toronto restaurant. And, there were surprises: Andrew Scheer apparently has a dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship? What’s clear is how most of the leaders tried to win the race: by taking down their opponents. Now that the Liberals have lost their power in the House, more mudslinging is expected in our future.

What’s a minority government anyway?

The Liberals finished the race with the most seats in government but were unable to capture the majority of seats: 170 or more. Every party wants a majority government because that’s when you can call the shots. The power that the Liberals had before last night made it easier (although still challenging) to make decisions. I.e., in 2018, the Liberal government decriminalized cannabis in Canada. Thing to know: minority governments don’t have a history of lasting very long.

What now?

Trudeau’s government will have to play nice. They need the support of other parties to stay in power. They will also need to negotiate support from at least one other party to pass laws or develop projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Despite that, he ruled out forming a coalition government, i.e., creating an alliance with another party to form a faux majority. Trudeau’s new cabinet (i.e. team) will be sworn in on Nov. 20.

2. UP NORTH

It was a monumental day in Northern Ireland on Tuesday. Abortion and same-sex marriage officially became legal. Before Tuesday, abortion was only allowed in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life was at risk. Ireland officially got rid of its abortion ban last year, but Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., didn’t follow suit until this week. The first same-sex marriage is expected to take place on Valentine’s Day 2020. Northern Ireland had been able to keep its restrictive laws in part because of the strong power of the conservative party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and other religious influences. In 2017, with a strained government, two members of parliament were able to pass through a proposed law on abortion and same-sex marriage. Despite an 11th hour attempt by the DUP to stop it from becoming law, that proposal officially went through.

3. SMUGGLED

Police confirmed that the 39 bodies found in a truck in Essex, England this week were Chinese citizens, eight women and 31 men. This is one of the country’s worst cases of human trafficking. The 25-year-old truck driver, Morris Robinson, is being held for questioning by police but has not been charged.

Remind me.

On Wednesday, 39 bodies were discovered in a refrigerated truck which police believe came from two different places: the container with the bodies travelled from Belgium to England where it was picked up by Robinson’s truck. The number of smugglers in Belgium has increased since a nearby migrant camp in Dunkirk, France closed down in 2017. Migrants continue to risk their lives trying to reach Europe in hopes of finding a safe new home. But a refrigerated container like the one the victims were found in is incredibly dangerous – if the fridge is on, you can die from the cold; if it’s off, you risk suffocating. This recent incident bears striking similarities to a case from 2000 where 58 Chinese migrants suffocated in a refrigerated truck in Dover, one of Britain’s busiest ports. That container also travelled from Belgium.

4. HOT IN HERE

Several wildfires broke out in California and have evacuated thousands of people. In the Geyserville region, north of San Francisco, the Kincade fire has spread 16,000 acres. The exact cause of the fire is TBD, but a high-voltage Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) tower malfunctioned just minutes before the fire started. FYI, fallen PG&E powerlines have caused bad fires in the past, including one last year that killed 85 people. So, two weeks ago, the company shut off power to almost 800,000 people to prevent wildfires during dry and windy weather conditions. The Old Water fire is burning in north San Bernardino and the Tick fire has already damaged several buildings in northern L.A.

5. GOOD NEWS

Do you have a new reader in your family – a daughter, niece, or cousin – who would love some extra practice with the most non-judgmental ears in town? The Toronto Humane Society has a program called ‘Reading Buddies’ that pairs new readers with shelter animals. Children get to build confidence in their reading skills and the animals get more human interaction. The sessions are about 40 minutes long and include an intro to the shelter, a short tutorial on animal behaviour, and 30 minutes of reading time.

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