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Canada set to begin quest for 20th gold medal at world juniors


6 minute read

By Joshua Clipperton

Connor Bedard sees the reminder every time he’s back home.

His gold medal from the last world junior hockey championship — a tournament that was moved to the summer and almost didn’t happen because of COVID-19 — hangs in the 17-year-old phenom’s bedroom.

And the presumptive No. 1 pick at the 2023 NHL draft is eager for more.

“Feels like when you win it, it lasts 10 minutes,” Bedard said. “You want that again right away.”

Another opportunity is right around the corner.

Bedard headlines a star-studded Canadian roster that will be looking to secure the country’s 20 podium-topping performance at the event set to open Boxing Day in Halifax and Moncton, N.B.

Apart from the North Vancouver, B.C., product, already being compared to the likes of Connor McDavid and other franchise-altering talents, Canada boasts a trio of NHL players loaned to the national team in Shane Wright, Dylan Guenther and Brandt Clarke.

“World juniors are something that you grew up watching as a kid and dream playing in,” said Wright, a centre selected No. 4 overall by the Seattle Kraken at the 2021 draft. “A huge honour.”

“We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves,” added Guenther, a forward with the Arizona Coyotes. “One last shot at winning a world junior championship is special.”

Bedard said Canada’s roster will feature “a bit of everything.”

“Whenever you’re assembling a team across Canada, it’s going to be pretty good,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of size, we’ve got speed, skill. It’s huge getting those (NHL) guys back.

“Those are all impact players in the best league in the world.”

Adam Fantilli — also in the conversation at the top of the upcoming NHL draft — has been impressed with the roster top-to-bottom.

“The best players in the country in one spot,” he said. “Great to see what everybody can do.”

Canada opens the tournament Monday against Czechia, the country commonly known as the Czech Republic, as part of a group playing out of Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre that includes Sweden, Germany and Austria.

The other side of the bracket is set for Moncton’s Avenir Centre and will feature the United States, Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia.

Like at the reimagined August event in Edmonton, Russia is banned due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The 2023 tournament was originally slated for the Russian cities of Novosibirsk and Omsk before being moved to North America.

Canada, which sits as the favourite, also enters with the pressure of a home-soil crowd and sky-high expectations.

“A privilege,” said head coach Dennis Williams. “You want to be put in these positions. We have to make sure we have our players able to be play uncomfortable — being comfortable at being uncomfortable in those situations.”

Canadian winger Brennan Othmann said the group will be able to attack in a number of different ways.

“Our back end is mean and solid and tough, and our forwards are skilled and big and strong,” he said. “You’re going to get an unbelievable Canada team coming at you.”

“I see a lot of talent,” added Clarke, a Los Angeles Kings defenceman set for his first world juniors. “And there’s guys that can play lower in the lineup, can grind it out, can win puck battles that are really tough to play against.”

Hockey Canada director of player personnel Alan Millar said there’s no doubt skill was a focus in roster construction.

“But at the same time, we want to have heaviness throughout our lineup,” he said. “We want to play fast, we want to play hard, and we want to compete and put teams on their heels.”

The tournament also comes at a time where the sport’s national organization is undergoing significant change following a disastrous 2022 of ugly headlines related to its handling of sexual assault allegations and payouts to victims.

Hockey Canada has a new board of directors and should have a freshly minted CEO in the new year.

The players and coaching staff at the world juniors have no connection to the scandals, but they’re still going to be wearing the logo — and know there will be a lot of scrutiny.

“We want to make sure we keep that focus on how we do things both on and off the ice,” Willliams said. “We want to minimize any distractions — whether it’s through the pressure or anything on the outside.

“Our guys are coming in excited, our guys are coming in determined.”

And gold — just like every other international tournament Canada enters — is on their mind.

“All the guys that are coming back really want that,” Bedard said of the country’s eight returning players from the summer.

“And for the guys that are new, it’s something that we want to give them.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2022.


Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

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Federal Election 2021

Trudeau chief of staff Katie Telford to testify on foreign interference at committee

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Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister Katie Telford arrives to appear as a witness at the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a motion to compel his chief of staff to testify about foreign interference at a House of Commons committee will not be a confidence matter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Ottawa (CP) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says his chief of staff, Katie Telford, will testify at a House of Commons committee on the issue of foreign interference in the last two Canadian elections.

The move came Tuesday as Trudeau’s office issued the mandate for special rapporteur David Johnston, giving him until May 23 to recommend whether any additional mechanisms — like a formal public inquiry — are necessary.

Johnston will have until the end of October to complete his review of foreign interference issues and make further recommendations for how the government should proceed.

Trudeau told reporters Tuesday morning that Johnston will have access to all relevant documents, including classified information.

The Liberals’ decision to drop their opposition to having Telford testify at committee made moot a vote planned for Tuesday afternoon on a Conservative motion asking the entire House of Commons to demand her appearance.

Liberal members of Parliament had been filibustering the Procedures and House Affairs committee for several weeks to prevent a similar motion that would compel Telford to appear.

The announcement on Telford’s testimony came moments after NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said his party would back the Conservative motion if the government didn’t stop filibustering at the committee.

Singh insisted the committee is not the best placed to get to the bottom of the foreign interference problems, and he wants a public inquiry. He said the Liberals and Conservatives are too bent on scoring political points at the committee for it to do the best job.

Trudeau has not heeded the calls for an inquiry thus far, but has said he will listen if Johnston recommends one.

Trudeau appointed Johnston, a former governor general, last week amid allegations Beijing attempted to influence the results of both the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

The government and opposition parties have said those attempts did not compromise the validity of the elections, a contention backed up by the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

But opposition parties have been demanding the government produce more information about what Beijing tried to do, what Trudeau knew about it and what he did about it. They want a full public inquiry but Trudeau instead appointed Johnston to look into the issue and make recommendations.

He has said if Johnston recommends an inquiry he will abide by that.

Trudeau said earlier Monday he wanted the issue of foreign interference to be treated with the seriousness it deserves and accused Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre of turning the matter into a “political circus.”

The Liberals left the door open on Monday to making the vote on the Telford motion a confidence matter, but Trudeau shut that door firmly Tuesday morning.

“No, it’s not going to be a confidence motion,” he said, prior to the Liberal cabinet meeting.

“Obviously, it goes to how important the issue of foreign interference is, and I’m actually pleased to contrast the approach that we’ve taken.”

He said the process the Liberals are following “is an expert process that will dig into this in a nonpartisan way.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2023.

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Food inflation in Canada shows signs of easing, but grocery prices to remain high

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A woman shops for produce in Vancouver, on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Food inflation appears to be easing in Canada but experts say consumers shouldn’t expect lower prices at the grocery store. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Food inflation appears to be easing in Canada, but experts say shoppers shouldn’t expect lower prices at the grocery store.

Statistics Canada says the cost of groceries in February rose 10.6 per cent compared with a year before, down from an 11.4 per cent year-over-year increase in January.

Yet a falling food inflation rate doesn’t mean the price of food is coming down.

Instead, it means prices are rising less quickly, signalling the worst of the era of grocery price hikes could be behind us.

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, says the food inflation rate is expected to continue to cool throughout the spring and into summer.

But he says Canadians may still experience sticker shock at the grocery store as some food prices are still significantly higher than a year ago.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2023.

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