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Language vs country poll, scientists demand better pay : In The News for Aug. 11

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 Aug. 11 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new survey finds more Canadians report a strong attachment to their primary language than to other markers of identity, including the country they call home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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 Aug. 11 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A new survey finds more Canadians report a strong attachment to their primary language than to other markers of identity, including the country they call home.

The survey, which was conducted by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies, found 88 per cent of respondents reported a strong sense of attachment to their primary language, whereas 85 per cent reported the same for Canada. 

The greater importance of language was especially notable among francophones and Indigenous Peoples.

Reports of strong attachment to primary language exceeded all other markers of identity, including geography, ethnic group, racialized identity and religious affiliation. 

Of the markers of identity considered in the survey, Canadians were the least likely to report a strong sense of attachment to a religious group.   

For Canadians whose primary language is French, 91 per cent reported a strong sense of attachment to their language, in comparison to 67 per cent who reported the same sentiment for Canada. 

In Quebec, more people reported a strong sense of attachment to their primary language than to the province. 

Only 37 per cent of Canadians reported a strong sense of attachment to a religious group. 

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Also this ...

Hundreds of scientists and researchers are expected to gather on Parliament Hill today to call for a raise.

Organizers of the "Support our Science" rally say they will present an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Science and Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne that has been signed by thousands of scientists and measures more than 60 metres long.

The group says many graduate and post-doctoral scholars receive funding from three federal agencies, but often the scholarships amount to less than minimum wage.

They also say graduate students have not seen a raise since 2003, and post-doctoral scholars have only had wages rise by 12.5 per cent in those 19 years.

As a result, many researchers leave the country or leave their fields altogether.

The group wants the federal government to increase the value of that funding by 48 per cent to match inflation since 2003, and to create 50 per cent more graduate scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships.

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

NEW YORK _ Donald Trump 's pick for governor in the swing state of Wisconsin easily defeated a favourite of the Republican establishment.

In Connecticut, the state that launched the Bush family and its brand of compassionate conservatism, a fiery Senate contender who promoted Trump's election lies upset the state GOP's endorsed candidate. Meanwhile in Washington, Republicans ranging from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene defended Trump against an unprecedented FBI search.

And that was just this week.

The rapid developments crystallized the former president's singular status atop a party he has spent the past seven years breaking down and rebuilding in his image. Facing mounting legal vulnerabilities and considering another presidential run, he needs support from the party to maintain his political career. But, whether they like it or not, many in the party also need Trump, whose endorsement has proven crucial for those seeking to advance to the November ballot.

"For a pretty good stretch, it felt like the Trump movement was losing more ground than it was gaining,'' said Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who is urging his party to move past Trump. But now, he said, Trump is benefiting from "an incredibly swift tail wind.''

The Republican response to the FBI's search of Trump's Florida estate this week was an especially stark example of how the party is keeping Trump nearby. Some of the Republicans considering challenges to Trump in a 2024 presidential primary, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, were among those defending him. Even long-established Trump critics like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan questioned the search, pressing for details about its circumstances.

But even before the FBI showed up at Mar-a-Lago, Trump was gaining momentum in his post-presidential effort to shape the GOP. In all, nearly 180 Trump-endorsed candidates up and down the ballot have won their primaries since May while fewer than 20 have lost.

Despite his recent dominance, Trump _ and the Republicans close to him _ face political and legal threats that could undermine their momentum as the GOP fights for control of Congress and statehouses across the nation this fall.

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

The prisoners at the penal colony in St. Petersburg were expecting a visit by officials, thinking it would be some sort of inspection. Instead, men in uniform arrived and offered them amnesty _ if they agreed to fight alongside the Russian army in Ukraine.

Over the following days, about a dozen or so left the prison, according to a woman whose boyfriend is serving a sentence there. Speaking on condition of anonymity because she feared reprisals, she said her boyfriend wasn't among the volunteers, although with years left on his sentence, he "couldn't not think about it.''

As Russia continues to suffer losses in its invasion of Ukraine, now nearing its sixth month, the Kremlin has refused to announce a full-blown mobilization _ a move that could be very unpopular for President Vladimir Putin. That has led instead to a covert recruitment effort that includes using prisoners to make up the manpower shortage.

This also is happening amid reports that hundreds of Russian soldiers are refusing to fight and trying to quit the military.

"We're seeing a huge outflow of people who want to leave the war zone _ those who have been serving for a long time and those who have signed a contract just recently,'' said Alexei Tabalov, a lawyer who runs the Conscript's School legal aid group.

The group has seen an influx of requests from men who want to terminate their contracts, "and I personally get the impression that everyone who can is ready to run away,'' Tabalov said in an interview. "And the Defense Ministry is digging deep to find those it can persuade to serve.''

Although the Defense Ministry denies that any "mobilization activities'' are taking place, authorities seem to be pulling out all the stops to bolster enlistment. Billboards and public transit ads in various regions proclaim, "This is The Job,'' urging men to join the professional army. Authorities have set up mobile recruiting centres in some cities, including one at the site of a half marathon in Siberia in May.

Regional administrations are forming "volunteer battalions'' that are promoted on state television. The business daily Kommersant counted at least 40 such entities in 20 regions, with officials promising volunteers monthly salaries ranging from the equivalent of $2,150 to nearly $5,500, plus bonuses.

The British military said this week that Russia had formed a major new ground force called the 3rd Army Corps from "volunteer battalions,'' seeking men up to age 50 and requiring only a middle-school education, while offering "lucrative cash bonuses'' once they are deployed to Ukraine. But complaints also are surfacing in the media that some aren't getting their promised payments, although those reports can't be independently verified.

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On this day in 2019 ...

Bianca Andreescu became first Canadian to win the Rogers Cup in 50 years. She was up 3-1 in the first set when American opponent Serena Williams called for a medical timeout. Less than a minute later, the chair umpire announced that Williams was retiring from the match, handing Andreescu her second WTA Premier title of the season.

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In entertainment ...

The Royal Canadian Mint is launching a special coin celebrating late music legend Oscar Peterson.

The one-dollar circulation coin is set to be unveiled at a Toronto event this morning.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to be in attendance alongside the jazz pianist's widow, Kelly Peterson, and daughter, Céline Peterson.

Pianist and composer Thompson Egbo-Egbo will pay tribute to Peterson with a special performance.

Born in Montreal in 1925, Peterson is widely regarded as one of the foremost jazz pianists of his generation, winning numerous Juno and Grammy Awards over his 60-year career.

He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame before dying of kidney failure in 2007 at the age of 82.

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Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ Two containers of food bound for Afghanistan have been cancelled by a Canada-based aid agency because of a law banning any dealings with the Taliban.

World Vision says it has been forced to cancel a large shipment of "therapeutic food,'' which it said could have fed around 1,800 children.

Asuntha Charles, World Vision Afghanistan's national director, said the country is facing a dire humanitarian crisis and the shipment of food had to be cancelled because of "unnecessary restrictions.''

Canada passed a law in 2013 listing the Taliban as a terrorist organization and creating penalties of up to 10 years in prison if Canadians directly or indirectly provide them with property or finances.

Aid agencies working in Afghanistan complain the law in its current form is impeding their work because they cannot help anyone who may have official dealings with what is now the Afghan government, including those paying rent or taxes.

Charles said it was "time for Canada to take action by decriminalizing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to save lives before it is too late.''

Amy Avis, a lawyer for the Canadian Red Cross, said Canada needs to find a way to allow aid to reach people in Afghanistan.

Ten humanitarian organizations made a submission to a special parliamentary committee on Afghanistan earlier this year calling on ministers to relax the laws so they could work on the ground in Afghanistan without fear of breaching Canada's anti-terrorism laws.

They criticized Canada for not adjusting its regulations following a December 2021 UN Security Council resolution that said "humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan'' would not violate the council's sanctions regime.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2022.

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