Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard met briefly with Pope Francis on Wednesday and invited the pontiff to Montreal to attend the city's 375th-anniversary celebrations in 2017. Couillard had a 45-second conversation with the pontiff at the Vatican and said it touched him very deeply. Couillard's one-on-one encounter with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church took place at the Pope's weekly general audience, which attracted tens of thousands of followers.
By Nia Williams and Scott Haggett CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A wildfire raging in northeastern Alberta near two major oil sands projects nearly doubled in size to 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) on Wednesday, although firefighters made some progress tackling blazes elsewhere in the oil-rich Western Canadian province. The fires have forced energy companies operating in Alberta, the largest source of U.S. oil imports, to shut in 233,000 barrels per day of production, or roughly 10 percent of total oil sands output. Scott Long of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency said the fire on the Canadian military's Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR), near the oil sands projects, was still out of control even though 250 firefighters were battling to contain it.
The ongoing FIFA corruption scandal won't tarnish the Women's World Cup, say the Canadian Soccer Association and Canada's sports minister. Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups Wednesday. News of the criminal investigation on both sides of the Atlantic comes 10 days before the Women's World Cup kicks off.
By Jessica Dye NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Wednesday put on hold dozens of lawsuits accusing General Motors Co of concealing an ignition-switch defect while plaintiffs in those cases appeal an earlier ruling that found their cases were barred. GM had argued that claims for vehicles pre-dating its 2009 exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy should be dismissed, following U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerberâ€™s April 15 ruling that the company was shielded from those claims by the terms of its bankruptcy. Plaintiffs said the cases should be stayed pending a resolution of their appeal.
This year's hurricane season will likely be quieter than average due to the so-called El Nino effect and cooler ocean temperatures, but the Canadian Hurricane Centre warned Wednesday that Canadians shouldn't let their guard down. Meteorologist Bob Robichaud said even quieter hurricane seasons, which run from June to November, can generate potentially damaging and deadly storms. Robichaud pointed to last season, which was also below average at eight named storms.
The U.S. government launched a corruption attack on soccer's global governing body Wednesday, pulling FIFA executives out of a luxury Zurich hotel to face racketeering charges and raiding regional offices in Miami. Swiss officials also invaded FIFA headquarters, seizing records and computers to investigate whether the decisions to award World Cups to Russia and Qatar were rigged. Scandals and rumours of corruption have dogged FIFA throughout the 17-year reign of its president, Sepp Blatter, but he was not named in either investigation.
U.S. equities also climbed on the news on Greece, with the Nasdaq posting a record closing high. The U.S. dollar index ticked lower, though the greenback advanced against the yen. Greece's government said it was starting to draft an agreement with creditors including the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, but European officials quickly dismissed that as wishful thinking.
Defence Minister Jason Kenney pledged Tuesday that a new independent panel would reform the military's dysfunctional procurement system. Kenney said the announcement of the panel's members will be made very soon and he said it will mark a major shift in how the Canadian Forces makes massive purchases of equipment. "We want sign off essentially from all the key stakeholders in principle on a project at the front end and an independent panel to affirm that," the minister said in a keynote luncheon speech to about 900 delegates at an international defence industry trade show.
Other factors held little sway, including France's warning to Iran that it was ready to block a final deal on Tehran's nuclear program unless Iran provided full access to inspectors. Iran needs the nuclear deal to unlock sanctions on its crude exports. The American Petroleum Institute will issue at 4:30 p.m. EDT estimates on crude and oil products in storage ahead of Thursday's official data from the U.S. government.
An 18-year-old woman hasÂ been grantedÂ bail on charges related to what police say appears to be a failed attempt at carrying out an alleged suicide pact. The younger of the two cannot be identified as she was a minor at the time of the crash, but driver Brenda PelletierÂ BĂ©langer, an 18-year-old from St-Colomban, has been charged with second-degree murder. "They think the two girls made a suicide pact.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday stepped down as the international community's Mideast envoy, leaving a post that began with great promise but which struggled to deliver dramatic changes in its quest to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The departure reflected the dire state of Mideast peace efforts, which have been stalled for years and show no signs of resuming following the formation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government. A top Palestinian official said he was "happy" Blair was leaving, accusing him of ineffectiveness and caving in to Israeli pressure.