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Reactions to Keystone XL cancellation and welcoming Biden: In The News for Jan. 21

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 21 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 21 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

CALGARY -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is calling for the federal government to impose economic sanctions against the United States in response to newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden's "gut punch" decision to tear up the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline expansion.

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn't consult with Canada first before acting but saved his strongest criticisms for federal Liberals, whose statements in response to Biden's actions Kenny characterized as too accepting.

"If the U.S. government refuses to open the door to a constructive and respectful dialogue about these issues, then it is clear that the government of Canada must impose meaningful trade and economic sanctions in response to defend our country's economic interests," he said.

The lack of a strong response sets a precedent that could allow other members of Biden's government to call for other "retroactive" permit revocations for existing pipelines, Kenney said. Part of Keystone XL has been built but it is not complete, nor is it operating.

Kenney has said the province has about $1 billion at risk if the project is killed.

The 1,947-kilometre pipeline is designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. From there it would connect with the company's existing facilities to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast — one of the world's biggest oil refining hubs.

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Also this ...

CALGARY -- WestJet Airlines will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes.

Transport Canada lifted its grounding order for the Max on Wednesday after approving design changes to the plane and requiring pilots to undergo additional training.

WestJet executives will hold a press conference after the morning flight between Calgary and Vancouver.

The event is part of a campaign to reintroduce the Max to service while assuring the public that the plane's safety issues have been addressed.

Air Canada is expected to follow suit on Feb. 1.

Air Canada has already said it will offer passengers booked on a Max the option of changing their flight at no extra charge.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON -- If Joe Biden's decision to kill off Keystone XL is supposed to sound the death knell for Canada-U.S. relations, you wouldn't know it from the newly minted president's call sheet.

The 46th president's first phone call with a foreign leader comes Friday and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be on the other end of the line.

"I expect they will certainly discuss the important relationship with Canada, as well as his decision on the Keystone pipeline we announced earlier today," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

"His early calls will be with partners and allies; he feels it's important to rebuild those relationships and to address the challenges and threats we're facing in the world."

Deep in the stack of leather-bound executive orders Biden signed on his first day in the White House was one to rescind former president Donald Trump's approval of the US$8-billion cross-border pipeline expansion.

The project, first proposed in 2008, has been bouncing around the White House in various forms of limbo — stalled throughout Barack Obama's two terms before being outright cancelled in 2015, then twice resurrected by Trump.

Trudeau, who has been careful to point out that Biden's campaign had already promised to block the expansion, did so again Wednesday in a statement that was more celebratory than scolding.

"While we welcome the president's commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the president's decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL," the statement said.

Trudeau welcomed Biden's other moves, including rejoining the Paris accord, a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and reversing the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

World leaders welcomed into their ranks the new U.S. President Joe Biden, noting their most pressing problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, require multilateral co-operation, an approach his predecessor Donald Trump ridiculed. 

Many expressed hope Biden would right U.S. democracy two weeks after rioters stormed the Capitol, shaking the faith of those fighting for democracy in their own countries.  

Governments targeted and sanctioned under Trump embraced the chance for a fresh start with Biden, while some heads of state who lauded Trump’s blend of nationalism and populism were more restrained in their expectations.  But the chance to repair frayed alliances and work together on global problems carried the day.  

China, whose U.S. relations nosedived due to widespread frustration in Washington over its human rights record and accusations of technology theft, expressed cautious hope about the change in the White House.  

“China looks forward to working with the new administration to promote sound & steady development of China-U.S. relations and jointly address global challenges in public health, climate change & growth,” China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, tweeted.  

Biden “understands the importance of co-operation among nations,” said former Colombian president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos, who left office in 2018. 

“As a matter of fact, if we don’t co-operate – all nations – to fight climate change, then we will all perish. It’s as simple as that."  

French President Emmanuel Macron and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama were among those welcoming U.S. attention to climate change. After Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, Biden reversed the move in the first hours of his presidency Wednesday. 

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On this day in 1992 ...

The Supreme Court of Canada began its review of David Milgaard's murder conviction in the death of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller. The high court quashed the conviction a few months later and Saskatchewan decided not to retry Milgaard.

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In health news ...

A new study links the fitness level of Canadian children to that of their parents. 

The StatCan analysis suggests a child's aerobic fitness, muscular strength and flexibility all correlate to that of their parent. But there were differences when it came to the sex of each parent and child involved.

Boys whose parent had "excellent" cardiorespiratory fitness had better cardiorespiratory fitness than boys whose parent had a "poor" cardiorespiratory fitness level.

Girls whose parent had "excellent" flexibility had higher flexibility than girls whose parent had "poor" flexibility.

But the correlation in cardiorespiratory fitness was only seen significantly in mother-and-son pairs; while a significant flexibility correlation was only seen in mother-son and father-son pairings. Grip strength was associated in all duos except father-son pairings.

The study was based on data from the ongoing Canadian Health Measures Survey, and draws from a sample representative of children aged 6 to 11 years and their biological parents.

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ICYMI ...

A massive snow sculpture on a St. John's lawn depicting former United States president Donald Trump drowning in a sea of blue is drawing visitors.

The sculpture depicts Trump with his arms up, mouth open and hair aflutter, while his signature red tie floats out before him on the blue-painted snow. 

Co-creator James Keating says the snow carving is "huge" and "tremendous" and represents Trump “drowning in controversy."

He and his 16-year-old son, Ashton Keating, had been working on it for a few days. Keating estimated they put about 10 hours of work into it and said they made sure it would be ready for Joe Biden's inauguration as U.S. president on Wednesday. 

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the call between Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau would take place Thursday.