Evacuated families from the Lake Manitoba First Nation load their belongings onto a bus outside a hotel in Winnipeg, Monday October 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

In the news: Sprinting to the election finish line and anger amid Manitoba storms

First Nations residents forced to evacuate their Manitoba homes after a recent snowstorm

What we are watching in Canada …

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is on the east coast today.

He will be barnstorming New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, while his Conservative rival Andrew Scheer does the same in Quebec.

The difference is that Trudeau is spending his time in ridings the Liberal party is hoping to keep in the federal election on Oct. 21, and Scheer is hitting areas the Conservatives are hoping to pick up.

Trudeau’s Liberals won all the seats in Atlantic Canada in 2015, so any campaigning he does there is defensive.

He’s in Fredericton and Riverview, N.B., before moving on to Cumberland-Colchester, Masstown, New Glasgow and Halifax, N.S., where he’ll end the day with a rally.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party has been on the rise in recent polls, is campaigning in Toronto, and the Green party’s Elizabeth May is talking about the Greens’ tax plans in Kamloops, B.C.

VIDEO: Trudeau plays defence in Maritimes today while Scheer fights for seats in Quebec

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Frustration amid the storm …

First Nations residents forced to evacuate their Manitoba homes after a recent snowstorm expressed frustration that Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was campaigning in the area instead of helping out.

Though NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he’d changed his own travel plans to avoid the province, Scheer’s itinerary was not adjusted, and he dodged questions about whether he should have modified his plans or tried to assist while there.

Scheer said his campaign did not want to disrupt the important work the Red Cross and others were doing to assist those affected by the storm.

He said he made a personal donation to the Red Cross, though would not disclose the amount, and encouraged others to do the same.

“We are sending our best wishes, our hearts are going out to those people who are affected by the storm,” he told reporters.

“We know the important work to clean up afterwards and get power restored is underway, and we certainly hope that happens as quickly as possible.”

Approximately 16,393 Manitoba homes and businesses were still without power Monday evening after a snowstorm that the province’s Crown energy utility said had done an unprecedented amount of damage to transmission lines and towers. It could take more than a week to repair.

Premier Brian Pallister had declared a state of emergency early Sunday morning.

ALSO READ: Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

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No more Mr. Smiley on the campaign trail …

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer jokes in his stump speeches that one of the few criticisms he gets is that “I smile too much.”

But in the opening moments of the English-language leaders’ debate last Monday, there was no sign of his famous dimples as he turned to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, beat his palm up and down in Trudeau’s direction, and spoke with acid in his voice.

“Mr. Trudeau, you are a phoney and a fraud and you do not deserve to govern this country,” Scheer said, before turning back to face the camera dead-on with a frown.

ALSO READ: Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Scheer’s tone was so hard that a few people in the live audience — warned they needed to be quiet — gasped.

The moment was no accident.

For days, Scheer’s advisers had been working with him to trade his pleasant countenance for something with a bit more gravitas.

The Liberals and Conservatives had been deadlocked in the national polls since the Sept. 11 election call, and with the campaign about to shift from persuasion mode to motivation mode, from convincing voters of the Conservative plan to exhorting supporters to vote, everyone needed Scheer to step it up.

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Flare up in the Middle East as U.S. pulls out of Syria …

Syrian government troops moved into towns and villages in northeastern Syria including the flashpoint region of Manbij, setting up a potential clash with Turkish-led forces advancing in the area as long-standing alliances in the region began to shift or crumble following the pullback of U.S. forces.

The Syrian military’s deployment near the Turkish border came after Syrian Kurdish forces previously allied with the U.S. said they had reached a deal with President Bashar Assad’s government to help them fend off Turkey’s invasion, now in its sixth day.

Assad’s return to the region his troops abandoned in 2012 at the height of the Syrian civil war is a turning point in Syria’s eight-year civil war, giving yet another major boost to his government and its Russian backers and is like to endanger, if not altogether crush, the brief experiment in self-rule set up by Syria’s Kurds since the conflict began.

The rapidly changing situation was set in motion last week, when U.S. President Donald Trump ordered American troops in northern Syria to step aside, clearing the way for an attack by Turkey, which regards the Kurdish fighters as terrorists. Since 2014, the Kurds have fought alongside the U.S. in defeating the Islamic State in Syria, and Trump’s move was decried at home and abroad as a betrayal of an ally.

Faced with unrelenting criticism, Trump said Monday he was putting new sanctions on Turkey, halting trade negotiations and raising steel tariffs in an effort to pressure Ankara to stop its offensive. Vice-President Mike Pence also said Trump was sending him to the Middle East because the president was concerned about instability in the region.

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The Canadian Press


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