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In the news today: Rain, cooler temperatures help Western wildfires

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today...
A firefighter monitors a pump in a river bed used for wildfire sprinklers in the evacuated neighbourhood of Grayling Terrace in Fort McMurray, Alta., Thursday, May 16, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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

Rain, cooler temperatures help Western wildfires

The oilsands hub city of Fort McMurray got a watery reprieve from a menacing wildfire Thursday as steady rain fell and water cannons delivered a soaking blast to tinder-dry ditches.

Alberta Wildfire information officer Christie Tucker said the blaze remained out of control – the only such designated fire in the province – but it did not grow overnight and remained at about 200 square kilometres in size.

The blaze was still just under six kilometres from the southwest outskirts of the community in northeastern Alberta and less than five kilometres from the main highway south.

The fire forced 6,600 residents in four neighbourhoods to leave their homes Tuesday.

Evacuated residents have been told they may be able to return after the long weekend.

Here's what else we're watching...

Wildfires, smoke threaten Canadian tourism sector

At Andrew Lake Lodge — a remote camp in the extreme northeast corner of Alberta — owner Dan Wettlaufer is looking forward to welcoming the first of this year's crop of tourists this weekend.

But the wildfire burning out of control near Fort McMurray could put a crimp in this year's May long weekend and the start of the summer tourism season, Wettlaufer acknowledged.

Andrew Lake Lodge attracts visitors from across the country, the U.S., Europe and Asia looking to experience fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing in a pristine wilderness location.

But Wettlaufer, like many in Canada's tourism sector, is concerned about the ripple effects of increased wildfire activity on his industry. Last year, he had to cancel or reschedule a number of his clients' trips as smoke from fires in the Northwest Territories made taking off and landing at his lodge's landing strip too dangerous.

Wettlaufer said he worries not just about potential losses related to evacuation orders, travel difficulties and smoke-filled skies, but also indirect impacts such as reputational damage to the country as a whole.

Canadaland loses bid to quash defamation suit

A defamation lawsuit filed by the mother of Marc and Craig Kielburger against the Canadaland podcast and its host will head to trial after an Ontario court rejected an application to have it thrown out, finding there is reason to believe the claim has "substantial merit."

Canadaland, its host Jesse Brown and others involved in the podcast had sought to have the lawsuit – which centres on an August 2021 episode about the Kielburger-founded WE Organization – dismissed under legislation meant to protect people from litigation intended to silence critics or public debate.

In a ruling released earlier this month, an Ontario Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit against Isabel Vincent, a reporter who was a guest on the episode, but ruled it should proceed against Brown and Canadaland.

The ruling by Justice Edward Morgan found there is no reason to believe Brown and Canadaland have "any valid defence," noting the episode omitted key information in a way that undermined its objectivity and Brown showed a "callous disregard" for Theresa Kielburger's reputation in an affidavit.

Majority of Canadians support abortion: poll

Eight in 10 Canadians back a woman's right to an abortion and two in three don't want the notwithstanding clause used to restrict access to abortions, a new poll suggests.

The Leger survey also suggests support has diminished significantly since the fall for the idea of a province using the notwithstanding clause to ban discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

Leger polled 1,545 people online between May 10 and 12. While the results were statistically weighted they cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random samples.

The survey was taken in the days following the annual March for Life anti-abortion protest rally on Parliament Hill. The issue of abortion rights has been prominent in the American news cycle since 2022 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision that protected abortion access south of the border.

Timeline: Tim Hortons marks 60th birthday

It was 60 years ago today that an iconic Canadian chain got its start.

The first Tim Hortons restaurant was opened in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1964 named after the famous NHL defenceman Tim Horton, who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time.

Since then, Tim Hortons has become part of the fabric of Canada, with stores all over the world and has even had the term "double-double" added to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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