In the news today: PMO staff testifying at public inquiry, BC booster shot program

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to
bring you up to speed on what you need to know today…

PMO staff to testify at interference inquiry

Staff from the Prime Minister’s Office are set to speak today at the public inquiry into foreign interference in Canada’s elections.

The testimony comes a day after the inquiry saw a briefing document prepared for the PMO stating China meddled in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. 

The document from Canada’s spy agency says it knew China “clandestinely and deceptively interfered” in those elections.

It says in 2021, Chinese foreign interference activities were very likely motivated by a perception the Conservative Party of Canada’s campaign platform was anti-China.

The commission will hear from the PMO’s Katie Telford, Jeremy Broadhurst, Brian Clow and Patrick Travers a day before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears Wednesday.

B.C. launches spring COVID-19 booster program

British Columbia is rolling out another round of COVID-19 vaccination boosters, with invitations starting to go out Monday.

Ministry of Health says people who haven’t received a booster against the XBB. 1.5 Omicron variant of COVID-19 will be among those offered the free shot.

Others who will be invited include adults aged 65 and older, Indigenous adults 55 and over, residents of long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities, and anyone older than six months who is “clinically extremely vulnerable.”

The ministry says in a statement that although the spring program is focused on those most at risk or those who haven’t received an updated vaccine, anyone who wants a booster can book an appointment or walk into a pharmacy where the shots are available.

Discount Alberta 4-litre vodka jugs spark concern

A distillery is halting production of discount four-litre vodka jugs after the Alberta minister responsible for the province’s liquor industry called out the product for not being responsibly priced.

T-Rex Distillery says public response has been mixed since photos of the jugs began circulating on social media, with about half praising the jugs for “innovation and convenience.”

Others expressed concern, including Service Alberta Minister Dale Nally, who says the low $49.95 price was “not very responsible” and that he was looking at intervening.

The Edmonton-area distillery says the jugs are a private-label product produced and bottled for a customer, Super Value Liquor, at its requested price.

Trapped B.C. orca calf’s skin begins to whiten

The skin of a young killer whale trapped in a Vancouver Island lagoon is turning white due to the low salinity of the water, but the Fisheries Department says the calf is active and isn’t showing signs of emaciation.

The statement issued late Monday says the female calf’s behaviour and activity have remained constant.

It says planning for a rescue operation continues with the Ehattesaht First Nation.

The statement says freshwater in the lagoon has whitened skin on the dorsal side of the calf, but veterinary experts aren’t concerned about the short-term impact.

The calf has been trapped alone near Little Espinosa Inlet, about 450 kilometres northwest of Victoria, since March 23, when its pregnant mother became trapped on a rocky beach at low tide and died.

Toronto police officer injured during arrest

The Toronto Police Service says an officer was injured while making an arrest during an alleged car theft.

The incident happened near Yonge and Kingsdale around 10 p.m. Monday and police say it involved five male suspects attempting to steal a car.

During the interaction, police say the officer suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, details of which are not being released at this moment. 

TPS also notes that the province’s Special Investigation Unit has not invoked its mandate.

One male suspect was arrested at the scene, while another was taken into custody following a short pursuit. Three others remain at large and there are no descriptions available for them.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2024

The Canadian Press

<!– Photo: 20240409000420-6614c21873dd37db7796fcfcjpeg.jpg, Caption:

Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, departs after appearing as a witness before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, studying foreign election interference, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, April 14, 2023. Staff from the Prime Minister’s Office are set to speak today at the public inquiry into foreign interference in Canada’s elections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang