Pedestrian dead after fatal hit and run in Brant County, Ont.

OPP are investigating a fatal hit and run that left a pedestrian dead in Brant County, Ont.

Police say around 1:21 a.m. Sunday, emergency crews responded to Muir Road for a report of a person laying on the road.

Police determined a pedestrian had been struck by a car. They suffered life-threatening injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Read more:

Police identify 38-year-old London, Ont. man as victim of fatal Adelaide Street hit and run

OPP says the suspect vehicle is described as a Ford pickup truck with damage to the front right corner and missing a passenger mirror.

Automotive repair facilities, scrap yards and local repair outlets are asked to contact OPP if a vehicle matching the description was recently being repaired.

Anyone with information or surveillance footage of the incident is asked to contact police at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

1 dead after two-vehicle crash on Highway 401 near London, Ont.

OPP say one person has died after a collision on Highway 401 near London, Ont.

Police say emergency crews responded around 2:45 a.m. Sunday to the westbound lanes of Highway 401 at Elgin Road.

Two vehicles had collided and one person died, police say. Their name has not been released.

Read more:

18-year-old dead, 4 injured after crash northeast of Goderich, Ont.: OPP

The highway was closed but has since reopened.

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact OPP at 1-888-310-1122.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

The West Block – Episode 2, Season 12

THE WEST BLOCK

Episode 2, Season 12

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Host: Mercedes Stephenson

Guests:

Larisa Galadza, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat

Location: Ottawa, ON

Mercedes Stephenson: Putin’s gamble ratcheting up the war in Ukraine and sounding the alarm on anti-black racism.

I’m Mercedes Stephenson. Welcome to The West Block.

Russia holds sham referendums and mobilizes the reserves to fight for the first time since the Second World War.

Is the war entering a new and dangerous phase? I’ll ask Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine.

And, a multi-billion dollar class action law suit to fight anti-black racism in the federal public service.

As the Ukrainian counteroffensive continues to reclaim Russian held territory, Vladimir Putin is showing no signs of backing down. In fact, there are concerns the conflict might escalate after Putin demanded snap referendums in four occupied areas of Ukraine and has announced he is mobilizing up to 300 thousand Russian reservists to bolster his faltering war efforts.

In an address to the UN General Assembly, the Ukrainian president says it’s time for Russia to pay for its war crimes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy: “A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment. The crime was committed against our state borders. The crime was committed against the lives of our people. The crime was committed against the dignity of our women and men.”

Mercedes Stephenson: For more on what’s happening right now in Ukraine, I’m joined by Canada’s ambassador in Kyiv, Larisa Galadza. Thank you so much for joining us today, ambassador.

Can you tell us a little bit about what the situation is on the ground right now and what the feeling is with the Ukrainian people?

Larisa Galadza, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine: Thanks. Thanks for having me. You know it’s September and in two important ways this is like any other September with kids going back to school and the weather turning. But of course, those things remind us very acutely that the war continues to rage and this country is still suffering very badly. A lot of children have not gone back to school because they don’t have bomb shelters. Every school has to have a shelter. And the winter is turning and millions of people still don’t have homes. I recently drove to Irpin again, the same town we were in with the prime minister back in May, and those bombed out buildings, many of them look exactly as they were back then. So where are their residents? Where are they going to live as it gets colder? So these are urgent matters and all of this is happening against a very, very dynamic security and political backdrop. The air raid sirens continue to wail. The missiles continue to fly. Russia continues to attack. Ukrainians continue to make excellent progress in the Kharkiv region, but as they go into those newly liberated areas, they’re finding new and more examples of the horrors the Russian troops have inflicted on Ukrainians.

And then this week, it’s been you don’t know where to turn for the action. Yes, the war continues in Kharkiv and Donbass and Kherson. There’s Putin’s speech, as you mentioned, the mobilization, the sham referendums, the threats of nuclear war. There’s the release of 215 prisoners of war. That’s huge. There was President Zelenskyy’s incredible speech to the UN General Assembly. The prime minister spoke with the President Zelenskyy this week as well. The exhumation of bodies continues in Izium, 445 bodies. And that’s just—that’s just this week.

Mercedes Stephenson: It’s a reminder of the sharp contrast of the reality of the war in Ukraine that so many here are not seeing in the news every single day, the disruption of daily life, schools, bomb shelters, the incredible cold that you feel in Ukraine in the winter with those winds coming off of the plains. I want to ask you about the threats you mentioned from Vladimir Putin, those nuclear threats in particular. How real do you think that is?

Larisa Galadza, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine: Those are not new threats. That is something that we’ve heard from Putin before and consistently. And as the Ukrainians say, they don’t believe them but you have to take them seriously. And the Ukrainians themselves the way to do that is to show strength, so strength in the face of those threats and to not give in and to not stand down.

Mercedes Stephenson: Where do you foresee the war going in the immediate future, because you’ve had this phenomenal success of the Ukrainian offensive, which took back territory much more quickly and successfully than a lot of people were expecting. Now you have Vladimir Putin holding these sham, snap referendums in occupied areas to try to say Oh, look, see, they want us to see we can annex them. It’s completely legal, him calling up 300 thousand reservists. Do you think that there is going to be a real spike in the bloodshed in coming days?

Larisa Galadza, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine: I think you’re absolutely right that what Putin has called for and announced is clear evidence that he is desperate. He’s desperate because the Ukrainians have the upper hand in the Kharkiv region and the Russians are hugely degraded in the other parts where they continue to hold territory. So he needs to make a quick move. Where is this going to go? Well, first of all, the international community has already said very strongly it will not recognize these referendums. So if he thinks that’s going to accomplish something, it’s not. The Ukrainians, likewise, have said we don’t care what you do. In fact, they’ve been through it before. They—Russia held a referendum in 2014 in Crimea. They don’t care. They’re going to continue fighting for their territory until every square metre of it is returned to Ukrainian control. Canada and its allies are working very hard in light of these announcements from Putin, first of all, to continue to undermine the lives, the disinformation, the crazy messaging, to isolate Russia with additional sanctions, to support Ukraine in defending its territory and taking it back and then, of course, to ensure that the international community remains steadfast in its support for international law.

Mercedes Stephenson: Speaking of Canada’s support for Ukraine, of course, we’ve sent M777 howitzers which are big artillery guns. The Ukrainians are asking for more of those. They’re also asking for Canadian LAV’s, light armoured vehicles that have a big cannon turret on them. We’ve agreed to send armoured vehicles so far, but not ones that have weapons. Is this something that the Canadian government is looking at? Will we send the Ukrainians more weapons? Do we even have them to be able to send?

Larisa Galadza, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine: We’ve got more weapons still on the way. The package that the government announced of $500 million in weapons is still being delivered. It is contracted for. It is on its way. The training is happening and we’re doing this every step of the way, in concert, in tight coordination with the Ukrainians to make sure that we do in fact, deliver what they need. There’s no point giving them things that we happen to have and that they don’t need. So that’s what’s happening right now and we know that what we’re providing goes into service. We will help them use it properly. We will help them maintain it and that is going to make an incredible contribution to this fight that’s going to go on for a while longer still.

Mercedes Stephenson: What are your Ukrainian counterparts asking you for? What would be helpful to them? Because obviously, we’ve announced this package but they’re saying they need more. What more do they need?

Larisa Galadza, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine: So, they do need weapons, everyone. You can talk to the most humanitarian of humanitarians and they’ll tell you what they need, but the first thing they say is weapons. They need tanks and I’m sure you are aware that they’re trying to get those from their European—their close European partners. So, number one ask is for weapons.

A number two ask is continued support for their macro financial stability. Here, Canada has provided almost $2 billion in support, to make sure that Ukraine doesn’t fall apart economically. Their export economy, as you know, is hugely curtailed. Their Black Sea is cut-off except for these special corridors that take the grain out so that people don’t starve in other parts of the world. Industry is interrupted. So the economy is in bad shape and Canada and our partners are helping to stabilize that.

The third thing they ask for is support for accountability for holding Putin, holding every soldier, all the way down the line, accountable for the atrocities that have been committed here and in particular, to set up an international tribunal to try Russia for the crime of aggression. So that is a very clear ask of Canada and all our partners.

And the last thing they ask for is help with the recovery. However we can help with the recovery. Recovery is that part of the effort that is required to open schools, make sure they have shelters, and build temporary homes or homes for people that don’t have them. All this has to happen right away. Rebuild some medical clinics. Make sure that the most critical of critical infrastructure is back up and running in newly liberated areas. So those are sort of the four key asks.

Mercedes Stephenson: You, ambassador, of course, are Canada’s ambassador there. You’re in Kyiv. The embassy was formerly “reopened” by the prime minister, but it was very symbolic. When are we expecting the embassy to actually reopen in a way where it will be able to process visas, bring people out of Ukraine and function as a fully capable embassy would?

Larisa Galadza, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine: We’ve been here since May 8th with a team and our priority was to reengage in high level diplomatic and political engagement and that’s what we did. And we had a team here and we’ve had a team here steadily since the 8th of May, when the prime minister came to visit President Zelenskyy. It was always meant to be a gradual and rolling reopening. First things first, and then always with top-of-mind is the security and safety of our personnel. We’re now at a point where we have a larger team here. We have more of our local staff engaged. We are working at the chancery, but the embassy has been functioning all the way along. The building, the chancery is open. We’re glad to be back in there and visas continue to be processed online as they always have been. We have been accepting visa applications in the embassy in many years. So we’re serving the priorities as they’ve been given to us by Minister Joly, by the prime minister and we are incredibly active.

Mercedes Stephenson: Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us today and please do stay safe, along with all of your staff.

Larisa Galadza, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine: Thank you very, very much.

Mercedes Stephenson: Up next, one of the lead plaintiffs in a landmark class action lawsuit, alleging decades of discrimination against black federal civil servants in Canada.

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat: “The manager told her we should go back to the good old days where we had slaves. And that manager faced no consequences.”

Mercedes Stephenson: A group of black civil servants says the federal government is resorting to stall tactics to deny them their day in court, nearly two years after they sounded the alarm on anti-black racism in the public service.

More than 15 hundred black federal employees have joined the proposed class action lawsuit, taking aim at what they describe as the government’s wrongful failure to hire and promote black employees in the public service.

The lawsuit alleges decades of discrimination and harassment against tens of thousands of black employees and job applicants, who say they were subjected to racist comments and jokes and passed over for promotions, or just not even hired in the first place.

The effects of that exclusion were debilitating, with employees reporting anxiety, shame and significant financial losses. The lawsuit is seeking $2.5 billion in damages, including compensation for lost income and other benefits.

Joining me now with more on the lawsuit is one of its lead plaintiffs, Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Executive Director of the Black Class Action Secretariat. Thank you so much for joining us today, Nicolas. We appreciate your time.

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat: Thank you for having me.

Mercedes Stephenson: Can you tell me a little bit about when you first started to notice a pattern in your own life and in the lives of your black colleagues who are working for the Government of Canada that you went, you know what? This is discrimination. This is racism.

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat: Well, when I joined the public service about eight years ago, I immediately noticed that there was a very troubling trend. And that trend was that black employees were in entry level positions, other racialized employees were just above that and the leadership of the public service was reserved for white employees and that I noticed workers working for 15 years, 20 years and they’re in the same position. And that has really culminated in significant psychological injuries for workers, mental health injuries and as well as the financial losses. So—and that’s where really, I decided that we had to do something about it. And I started talking with workers across the public service and they told me the same thing that they were very well qualified and were being denied promotions, were—they experienced racism in the workplace. One worker was told we should go back to the good old days where we had slaves…

Mercedes Stephenson: Where we had slaves?

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat: Correct. The manager told her we should go back to the good old days where we had slaves, and that manager faced no consequences. And it is that constant ability of public service leaders to make comments like that and there’s no consequences for it.

Mercedes Stephenson: That’s—it’s atrocious. It’s atrocious in that’s very direct and as you’re saying also this insidious systemic racism, where people are not being promoted. They’re staying in the same job their entire career, while their colleagues around them are promoted. People hear the stories and the numbers, but I think it’s powerful when we have some of those examples. Can you share with us some of your story or some of your colleague’s stories that are involved in this lawsuit that have led you to this point?

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat: Sure. The public service, black workers make up the largest racialized group in the public service. So that’s 3.8 per cent of the almost 300 thousand public service. And black workers in terms—black workers are the least paid in the public service. Despite being the largest group, it is the least paid group representing approx.—just over 1 per cent in the executive rank. To put that into perspective, the executive ranks of the public service has approximately 8 thousand employees and the black workers make up just about 100 executives in the entire public service that prides itself in being inclusive and diverse and merit-based. But that is not the case for black workers. Many black workers, 70 per cent are women, mothers and grandmothers, who have dedicated their lives to serving Canada and in return, Canada has denied them promotional opportunities, has treated them inhumanely. And all of that results in a denial of basic human rights and it also results in degradation. It also results in humiliation. Workers have told me that they have attempted suicide because they have nowhere to turn to, no recourse in the workplace, lack of support from their unions and just nowhere to turn to. And that they have suicidal ideation. Experts have told us how this discrimination impacts your brain. It actually causes your brain to move in a particular way, which has a direct impact on your parenting, on your social life, on your relationships. So, black workers are in a crisis in Canada’s public service.

Mercedes Stephenson: Canadians like to say we’re not that kind of country. We don’t have that kind of racism here, which is partially exactly why we wanted to sit down and talk to you about the story. What do you say to Canadians who are surprised to be hearing this today?

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat: Well, I would say the government’s own data does not—it tells us very clearly and supports what workers have been saying—is that they’re being denied opportunities. They’re asked to train new employees. They’re good enough to train new employees. They’re good enough to act for a temporary period in a higher position, but those positions almost always goes to white employees and some racialized employees. So my message to Canadians is: Black people want to fully participate and they’re being denied that opportunity at the highest level in the largest employer in Canada. So listen. Listen to us. Be an ally, and let’s work together because we want to make Canada a better place and to fully participate in Canada.

Mercedes Stephenson: I imagine a tremendous financial consequence too, because federal government pensions are based on the rank you retire at. So if you’re never promoted, then that’s having a significant impact. How has the government responded so far to your proposed class action lawsuit?

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat: Well the government is speaking from the both sides of its mouth. They’re saying one thing publicly and they’re fighting black workers in court. They’ve just brought in an expert from the U.S. to challenge their own data. They continue to bring motions to delay the case. The government has fully acknowledged that this issue exists in all of its institutions and that the pain and damage that it causes is real. And then it shows up in court, fighting black workers, forcing black workers to recount the trauma that they’ve endured at the hands of the government for decades.

Mercedes Stephenson: Nicholas, what needs to happen going forward? How would you like to see the government respond and what changes need to be made?

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat: Well firstly, the government needs to come to the table with workers and work with us to create those solutions that are necessary. And that is, the legislative changes, amendments to the Employment Equity Act. We’re seeking to create a separate and distinct category for black workers under the legislation, to ensure that black workers are not left behind when it comes to hiring and promotional opportunities. And we’re also seeking accountability through an accountability commission, to police the public service, to ensure that black workers do not face this discrimination again. And we are presently building a national and international coalition with organizations from across the country and internally as well, to bring attention to this issue that is happening in Canada. We’re scheduled to make a major announcement next week, so stay tuned on that.

Mercedes Stephenson: We will absolutely be tuning in for that announcement. Nicholas, thank you so much for joining us today.

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Black Class Action Secretariat: Thank you for having me.

Mercedes Stephenson: Up next, what we’re watching here at The West Block, from protests in Iran after a young woman died in police custody to a state funeral in Japan.

Mercedes Stephenson: More than a dozen people have been killed in nationwide protests rocking Iran, in what’s proving to be the biggest challenge to that country’s regime in years.

The protests were sparked by the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman earlier this month who died in police custody.

Masha Amini was arrested by the country’s notorious morality police for allegedly wearing the regime mandated head scarf too loosely. Her name has become a clarion call for Iranians who want to see the compulsory hijab abolished.

The protests have spread to at least 50 cities, largely driven by Iranian women. Some have removed their hijabs in public, considered a crime in Iran. Others have gone even further, openly burning their head scarves. Authorities have responded with a violent crackdown. Internet and cellular service is down in much of the country. Cutting off access to Instagram and WhatsApp so people can’t post what’s happening.

The United States imposed sanctions last week on Iran’s morality police, holding it responsible for the 22-year-old woman’s death.

Also expected to make news this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Tokyo to attend the state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated earlier this year. I’ll be in Japan to cover the prime minister’s visit for Global National and I’ll see you here again next Sunday, right here on The West Block.

I’m Mercedes Stephenson. Thanks for watching.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

London, Ont. police searching for missing woman

London, Ont., police are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing woman.

Police say 39-year-old Amanda Jastrau was last seen around 8 p.m. Thursday near Commissioners Road East and Wellington Road.

Read more:

London, Ont. police seek public’s help locating missing teen girls

She’s described as a white woman, 5’7″ in height and around 180 pounds. She was last seen wearing a black shirt, grey sweatpants, flip-flops and sunglasses.

She has a large tattoo of a fairy on her right arm and a tattoo of a black key on her right wrist.

Anyone with information is asked to call the London Police Service at (519) 661-5670 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

1 person dead after small plane crashed in eastern Ontario

KINGSTON, Ont. — One person is dead after a small plane crash in eastern Ontario on Saturday afternoon.

Ontario Provincial Police say they received several calls from members of the public who reported seeing a small aircraft go down near the southern tip of Bob’s Lake in Frontenac County.

They say emergency crews and members of the public started searching the area for the downed aircraft.

Read more:

Plane that disappeared in April found crashed in northern Ontario: OPP

The plane was located just before 5 p.m.

Police say the pilot, who was the lone occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene, but they have not released the name of the victim.

They say the Transportation Safety Board of Canada will be investigating the crash.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

'Be an ally': Black public servants facing 'trauma' amid class action, says organizer

WATCH: Black civil servants facing ‘trauma’ amid class action, says organizer

One of the organizers behind the class action lawsuit filed against the federal government by Black public servants says he wants Canadians learning about the experiences of claimants in the case to “be an ally” amid a process that is causing “trauma” for those involved.

In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Nicholas Marcus Thompson said the government is “speaking from both sides of its mouth” when it comes to squaring the treatment of claimants in the lawsuit in court with the comments officials make publicly about dismantling racism.

“They’re saying one thing publicly and they’re fighting Black workers in court,” he said, adding federal lawyers keep bringing forward motions “to delay the case.”

“The government has fully acknowledged that this issue exists in all of its institutions and that the pain and damage that it causes is real. And then it shows up in court fighting Black workers, forcing Black workers to recount the trauma that they’ve endured at the hands of the government for decades.”

Read more:

Black public servants file federal lawsuit alleging systemic racial discrimination

The class action lawsuit filed last year alleges systemic discrimination by the government when it comes to hiring and promotional decisions in the federal public service, dating back decades.

Plaintiffs in the case are seeking $2.5 billion in compensation for lost income, opportunities, and lost pension values as a result of systemic discrimination that prevented qualified Black public servants from being promoted into higher paying and more senior jobs.

Federal public service pensions are calculated based on the averages of an individual’s highest earning years, meaning those who get paid less throughout their careers get smaller pensions when they retire.

“There has been a de facto practice of Black employee exclusion from hiring and promotion throughout the Public Service because of the permeation of systemic discrimination through Canada’s institutional structures,” the statement of claim says.

The statement of claim also says that equity measures taken to date have “merely masked the increasing disparity, exclusion and marginalization of Black Canadians” from equal opportunities in the public service, and that there remains a “pernicious” underrepresentation in the upper ranks.

Read more:

Canada has a discrimination problem when it comes to hiring — here’s why

Thompson said he wants to see the government come to the table and commit to working towards the solutions that plaintiffs say would help fix the problem, and to make legislative changes to the Employment Equity Act as well.

“We’re seeking to create a separate and distinct category for Black workers under the legislation to ensure that Black workers are not left behind when it comes to hiring and promotional opportunities,” he said. Thompson also added there needs to be a commission formed to track concrete progress on preventing future discrimination.

“Black people want to fully participate and they’re being denied that opportunity at the highest level and the largest employer in Canada,” he said.

“So listen to us. Be an ally and let’s work together because we want to make Canada a better place and to fully participate in Canada.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Man succumbs to gunshot wounds after Vaughan shooting, police say

A man shot during the early hours of Saturday morning in Vaughan has died of his injuries in hospital, police say.

York Regional Police were called to the area of Highway 7 and Interchange Way near the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre for reports of a shooting at around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Police arrived to find a man with gunshot wounds. He was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he later died.

Read more:

Man with life-threatening injuries after shooting in Vaughan on Saturday morning

Officers identified the victim as 20-year-old Moses Alphonso Wright from Brampton. He was known to family and friends as MJ, police said.

Police are appealing to anyone who witnessed the incident or who may have video footage that could aid the investigation to get in touch.

“Investigators are appealing witnesses to come forward who may have been in the area at the time of the incident and have not yet spoken to police,” police said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Italians vote in election that could bring far-right to power

WATCH: Central Italy flash floods kill 9, shock residents: "I have never seen anything like this"

Italians voted Sunday in an election that could move the country’s politics sharply toward the right during a critical time for Europe, with war in Ukraine fueling skyrocketing energy bills and testing the West’s resolve to stand united against Russian aggression.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0500GMT) and by noon turnout was equal to or slightly less than at the same time during Italy’s last general election in 2018. The counting of paper ballots was expected to begin shortly after they close at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT), with projections based on partial results coming early Monday morning.

Read more:

Clock ticking for Ukraine, Russia as winter approaching makes battle more complicated

Publication of opinion polls is banned in the two weeks leading up to the election, but polls before that showed far-right leader Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy party, with its neo-fascist roots, the most popular. That suggested Italians were poised to vote their first far-right government into power since World War II. Close behind was former Premier Enrico Letta and his center-left Democratic Party.

“Today you can help write history,” Meloni tweeted Sunday morning.

Letta, for his part, tweeted a photo of himself at the ballot box. “Have a good vote!” he wrote.

Meloni is part of a right-wing alliance with anti-migrant League leader Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, the three-time premier who heads the Forza Italia party he created three decades ago. Italy’s complex electoral law rewards campaign coalitions, meaning the Democrats are disadvantaged since they failed to secure a similarly broad alliance with left-leaning populists and centrists.

If Meloni becomes premier, she will be the first woman in Italy to hold the office. But assembling a viable, ruling coalition could take weeks.

Nearly 51 million Italians were eligible to vote. Pollsters, though, predicted turnout could be even lower than the record-setting low of 73% in the last general election in 2018. They say despite Europe’s many crises, many voters feel alienated from politics, since Italy has had three coalition governments since the last election — each led by someone who hadn’t run for office.

Read more:

European Union to unveil new responses to energy crisis, commissioner says

Early voters in Rome expressed concerns about Italian politics as a whole.

“I hope we’ll see honest people, and this is very difficult nowadays,” said Adriana Gherdo, at a polling station in the city.

In Milan, voter Alberto Veltroni said he thought the outcome was still anyone’s guess.

“I expect that these will be difficult elections to read, to understand, with unexpected votes as opposed to the polls ahead of elections,” he said.

The election in the eurozone’s third-largest economy is being closely watched in Europe, given Meloni’s criticism of “Brussels bureaucrats” and her ties to other right-wing leaders — she recently defended Hungary’s Viktor Orban after the European Commission recommended suspending billions of euros in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and the possible mismanagement of EU money.

Elections are being held six months early after Mario Draghi’s pandemic unity government collapsed in late July. Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, saw no alternative but to have voters elect a new Parliament.

Opinion polls found Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief, hugely popular. But the three populist parties in the coalition boycotted a confidence vote tied to an energy relief measure. Their leaders, Salvini, Berlusconi and 5-Star Movement leader Giuseppe Conte, a former premier whose party is the largest in the outgoing Parliament, saw Meloni’s popularity growing while theirs slipped.

READ MORE: OPEC and allies trim oil outputs as recession fears drive down prices

Meloni kept her Brothers of Italy in the opposition, refusing to join Draghi’s unity government or Conte’s two coalitions that governed after the 2018 vote.

She further distanced herself from Salvini and Berlusconi with unflagging support for Ukraine, including sending weapons so Kyiv could defend itself against Russia. Her nationalist party champions sovereignty.

Before Russia’s invasion, Salvini and Berlusconi had gushed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the final days of the election campaign, Salvini criticized Russian atrocities in Ukraine but Berlusconi raised eyebrows by saying Putin merely wanted to put “decent” people in government in Kyiv after pro-Moscow separatists in Donbas complained they were being harmed by Ukraine.

Many factories in Italy face cutbacks — some already have reduced production — and other business might close as they struggle with gas and electricity bills reaching 10 times higher than a year ago. The major candidates, despite their political leanings, agreed on the urgency for a EU-wide price cap on energy prices, or failing that, a national one.

Draghi, who remains in a caretaker role until a new government is sworn in, had for months already pressed EU authorities in Brussels for the same remedy.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Motorcyclist dies after being thrown under bus in collision: Toronto police

A motorbike rider has died following a collision that threw them under a bus in Toronto.

In a tweet, Toronto police said the incident took place in the area of Dufferin and Gibson streets on Saturday night.

A motorbike and car collided, with the motorcyclist reportedly thrown from the bike and under a bus, police said.

Read more:

Motorcycle rider injured after crashing into DVP guardrail: police

The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene, where the driver remained.

Toronto paramedics told Global News the call came at around 10:16 p.m.

A description of the motorbike rider or driver were not initially released by officials.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

'We saw what happened in Ontario': Quebecers urged to vote in provincial election

WATCH ABOVE: The Progressive Conservatives landed a commanding majority despite Ontario’s lowest voter turnout in history. Yet Premier Doug Ford says the people of Ontario have awarded him with a strong mandate. Matthew Bingley reports.

MONTREAL — An incumbent premier and his party sail through an election campaign as a fragmented opposition vies to capture the attention of voters in the absence of a central rallying issue or tide-turning missteps.

The scenario playing out in Quebec in the lead-up to next month’s provincial election may seem like deja vu for residents of Ontario, where the Progressive Conservatives won a second majority in June.

Doug Ford’s victory came as voter turnout in that province reached an all-time low — about 43 per cent, according to preliminary results — and some observers have blamed the drop in participation to the lack of a competitive race or galvanizing issue.

Read more:

Voter turnout in Ontario lowest in history, early data from Elections Ontario shows

In Quebec, where the incumbent Coalition Avenir Quebec has maintained a commanding lead in the polls throughout the campaign, some political parties have raised concerns the province could be headed toward a low voter turnout on Oct. 3.

Earlier this week, Quebec Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade pointed to Ontario in calling for voters to mobilize against the CAQ and its leader, Francois Legault.

“Go out and vote,” Anglade told reporters. “We saw what happened in Ontario.”

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Did young voters turn up in the Ontario election?

Meanwhile, the organization that oversees Quebec’s election has broadened its get-out-the-vote message to the social media platform TikTok in an effort to reverse a downward trend in voter turnout, particularly among younger people. In the 2018 provincial election, 66.45 per cent of voters cast a ballot, a drop of nearly five percentage points from 2014. The turnout for those 35 and under was 53.41 per cent, 16 percentage points lower than for voters older than 35.

Like many other incumbents, Ford and Legault have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic with solid public support, and there doesn’t seem to be a broad appetite for change, according to political experts. Both leaders also saw formerly strong rivals — the provincial Liberal parties — perform poorly, and opposition parties fail to set the agenda or a viable ballot issue, they said.

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An election that “looks like a foregone conclusion” may discourage some from voting because they feel it won’t make a difference, said Peter Graefe, a political science professor at McMaster University.

That might be the case this time for Quebecers who usually support the Liberals since the party won’t likely form government, he said. Since the last election, the Quebec Liberals have struggled to connect with francophones and have alienated part of their anglophone base in Montreal by being seen as weak on language issues.

Other voters, however, may be more motivated, particularly those who back the Conservative Party of Quebec and its opposition to the CAQ’s pandemic measures, Graefe said.

Even if the province doesn’t seem poised for a change of leadership, the race for second place may be a draw for some voters, especially as polls suggest the Liberals could lose their status as official Opposition, said Genevieve Tellier, a political science professor at the University of Ottawa.

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A Leger poll released earlier this week suggests support for the CAQ was at 38 per cent, more than double that of its closest runners-up. Three parties — the Liberals, Quebec solidaire and the Conservatives — were at 16 per cent, while the Parti Quebecois was at 13 per cent support.

“It’s still uncertain and so it’s a three-way race with the Conservatives, the Liberals and (Quebec solidaire) in popular support,” which could lead to some interesting battles in certain ridings, Tellier said.

“There could be some surprises” in ridings such as Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships, where popular Quebec solidaire incumbent Christine Labrie is facing a challenge from a high-profile CAQ candidate: former Longueuil, Que., mayor Caroline St-Hilaire.

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The fact that five major parties are competing for the first time is also “a big novelty” that may stir public interest, Tellier said.

And without the traditional question of sovereignty and federalism on the ballot, there’s an opportunity for people to vote based on other issues they care about, she added. “And so people will have interest in different topics and that may dictate their choice in a new way.”

Graefe, however, said having sovereignty off the ballot could instead lessen the incentive to vote if people feel the stakes aren’t as high. “In this instance that kind of existential question has been taken off the table, and so it becomes more like an election in any other province,” he said.

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Just over a week before the election, Montreal resident Patricia Machabee still wasn’t sure who to vote for — or even if she would vote at all.

Though she believes voting is a civic duty, there isn’t much motivation when the CAQ appears poised to win, she said in a recent interview. “My vote isn’t even really going to count.”

What’s more, none of the other options are appealing this time, she said, adding that her husband is also on the fence about casting a ballot, for similar reasons.

“I’ve been voting Liberal for most of my life, since I’ve been allowed to vote ? but nobody’s got me excited,” she said. “I’m going to have to try to figure out what I’m going to do.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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