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Bloc Québécois leader says next federal election campaign could begin in mid-August

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Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said Friday he sees an opening to begin the next federal election campaign on Aug. 16 if the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.

That timeline would ensure the federal vote doesn’t interfere with municipal elections that are to be held across Quebec in November, Blanchet told a virtual meeting with an association representing Quebec cities and towns.

“It would seem to me to be highly disrespectful for a federal election to interfere with municipal elections,” Blanchet, whose party holds 32 seats in the minority Parliament, told the gathering in French.

“It opens a window that opens quite squarely on Aug. 16. I’m not saying that’s when it’s going to happen, but we can’t rule it out.”

The Bloc leader’s suggestion comes a day after his party tabled a motion in the House of Commons demanding Prime Minister Trudeau not call an election during the pandemic. Blanchet has repeatedly warned Trudeau against holding a vote during the health crisis.

The purpose of the Bloc’s motion, Blanchet said Friday, was to force a debate and a vote on the election date, as the Trudeau government sought to limit debate on Bill C-19, which aims to ensure a vote can be safely conducted during the pandemic.

Bill C-19 passed by a vote of 330-1 at second reading Tuesday, with the support of the Bloc members, who said they wanted the legislation to move to committee for study.

Blanchet said the government shouldn’t be attempting to force through a bill that would permit an election to be held during the pandemic, adding that the bill isn’t necessary if the pandemic is under control.

“If there is a pandemic, we don’t have an election and if the pandemic is controlled, we don’t need a law to hold an election during the pandemic,” he said. “Let’s be logical.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021.

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Canada's Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens capture bronze in women's pair

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TOKYO — Canada has its first rowing medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Victoria’s Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens of Surrey, B.C., took bronze on Thursday in the women’s pair with a time of six minutes 52.10 seconds.

The 2018 world champions finished behind the gold-medal winning duo of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand (6:50.19) and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia (6:51.45).

Conlin McCabe of Brockville, Ont., and Kai Langerfeld of North Vancouver, B.C., were the other Canadian rowers in a final Thursday, finishing fourth in the men’s pair on the 2,000-metre course at Sea Forest Waterway.

Canada’s women’s eight will race for a gold Friday.

The country’s rowers are looking to rebound after a disastrous showing at the 2016 Rio Games that saw the program secure just one medal.

The Canadians qualified 10 boats for Tokyo — the most since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta — and have a gender-neutral team for the first time in their history.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2021.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021.

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ZZ Top: Bearded bassist Dusty Hill dies in his sleep at 72

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HOUSTON (AP) — ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill, one of the Texas blues rock trio’s bearded figures, died at his Houston home, the band announced Wednesday. He was 72.

In their Facebook post, guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard said Hill died in his sleep. They didn’t give a cause of death, but a July 21 post on the band’s website said Hill was “on a short detour back to Texas, to address a hip issue.”

At that time, the band said its longtime guitar tech, Elwood Francis, would fill in on bass, slide guitar and harmonica.

Born Joe Michael Hill in Dallas, he, Gibbons and Beard formed ZZ Top in Houston in 1969. The band released its first album, titled “ZZ Top’s First Album,” in 1970. Three years later it scored its breakthrough hit, “La Grange,” which is an ode to the Chicken Ranch, a notorious brothel outside of a Texas town by that name.

The band went on to chart the hits “Tush” in 1975, “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’” in 1983, and “Rough Boy” and “Sleeping Bag” in 1985.

The band’s 1976 “Worldwide Texas Tour,” with its iconic Texas-shaped stage festooned with cactuses, snakes and longhorn cattle, was one of the decade’s most successful rock tours.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Said Rolling Stones lead guitarist Keith Richards in introducing the band to the Hall: “These cats are steeped in the blues, so am I. These cats know their blues and they know how to dress it up. When I first saw them, I thought, ‘I hope these guys are not on the run, because that disguise is not going to work.’”

That look — with all three members wearing dark sunglasses and the two frontmen sporting long, wispy beards — became so iconic as to be the subject of a New Yorker cartoon and a joke on “The Simpsons.”

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This story has been corrected to reflect that ZZ Top was formed in the late 1960s, not the late 1970s.

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