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Canadian military belt-tightening and Blue Jays land top prospect; In The News for June 11

Vanderbilt's Austin Martin connects for a hit during an NCAA college baseball game against Missouri in Nashville, Tenn. on May 11, 2019. The Toronto Blue Jays selected Austin Martin of Vanderbilt University with the No. 5 pick at the Major League Baseball amateur draft on Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Wade Payne
June 11, 2020 - 5:15 AM

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 June 11 ...


COVID-19 in Canada ...

Federal politicians are being urged to work together to help Canadians with disabilities weather the COVID-19 crisis.

This after opposition parties refused Wednesday to give the unanimous consent needed to swiftly pass the government's latest emergency aid bill.

The bill included provisions to deliver on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's promise of a one-time, tax-free benefit of up to $600 for disabled Canadians.

That benefit, along with other measures in the bill, are now in limbo.

Jewelles Smith, chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, says she's disappointed that governments have failed to provide emergency help for disabled Canadians.

Many of them face increased costs due to the pandemic including for grocery delivery, medication dispensing fees and increased home care.


Military spending needed: official ...

The Defence Department's top civilian official is touting the importance of continued investments in the Canadian Armed Forces, and says she has received no indications the Liberal government is planning to cut spending because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas's comments come amid questions about whether the military will become a target for belt-tightening after the COVID-19 pandemic is over and Ottawa starts looking for places to save money.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Thomas says defence officials have pressed ahead with plans to buy new fighter jets and warships even as the government has doled out billions in emergency support to Canadians because of the pandemic.

Thomas suggests the current global uncertainty underscores the need for even faster investments.


In the courts ...

An Alberta Crown appeal of a couple's acquittal in the death of their son is to be heard in Calgary today.

David and Collet Stephan were accused of not seeking medical attention sooner for 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in 2012. The couple testified they thought their son had croup and that they used herbal remedies to treat him.

Last September, a Court of Queen's Bench judge found them not guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life. Justice Terry Clackson accepted the testimony of a defence expert, who said the toddler died of a lack of oxygen, not bacterial meningitis as reported by the original medical examiner.

The Crown is arguing that Clackson committed a number of errors and made negative comments about the medical examiner that gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias.

In his decision, Clackson noted that Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo, who was born in Nigeria, spoke with an accent and was difficult to understand.


Blue Jays land top prospect ...

TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays selected Austin Martin of Vanderbilt University with the No. 5 pick at the Major League Baseball amateur draft on Wednesday.

The versatile Martin, who was announced at the draft as a shortstop, has spent time at various positions including centrefield while at Vanderbilt, with some scouts calling him the best pure hitter at the draft.

Martin fell to Toronto as he was No. 2 on the MLB Prospect Rankings list.

Martin was originally taken by the Cleveland Indians as a 37th-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. But instead of joining the Indians out of Trinity Christian Academy in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., he chose to attend Vanderbilt.

The Blue Jays selected fifth overall for the first time since taking Vernon Wells at No. 5 in 1997.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers selected third baseman Spencer Torkelson from Arizona State University with the first overall pick.


U.S. general: Taliban not yet met conditions for U.S. withdrawal...

The Taliban have not yet met conditions required for a complete U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by next May as envisioned in a U.S.-Taliban deal signed in February, the commander overseeing U.S. forces there said.

Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. is ahead of schedule for an initial drawdown by July to 8,600 troops. Another U.S. official, who was not authorized to discuss details and so spoke on condition of anonymity, said troop levels are now below 9,000, compared with about 12,000 in February.

McKenzie stressed, however, that going to zero troops by May is dependent on conditions.

"Those conditions would be: Can we be assured that attacks against us will not be generated there? And as of right now ... frankly, if asked my opinion, those conditions have not been fully met," he said in a video conference hosted by the Middle East Institute in Washington. McKenzie spoke from his headquarters in Florida.

McKenzie's skepticism comes as President Donald Trump focuses on an early troop exit that would fulfil his frequent promise to get the United States out of Afghanistan. Trump has said U.S. troops are acting as police in Afghanistan and should get out of a conflict that is now almost two decades old.

In late May, Trump called for a quick return of American soldiers and urged Afghan forces to step up in the defence of their country. He tweeted: "Bring our soldiers back home but closely watch what is going on and strike with a thunder like never before, if necessary!"


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2020

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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