Canada stood yesterday on the threshold of a new era of political turmoil, with voters expected to chastise the ruling Liberals and return a minority government in the closest general election in decades. \nPolls show the centrist Liberal Party, in power for a decade, in a virtual dead heat with the Conservative Party, while Quebec separatists seem set to hold the balance of power in voting yesterday. \nPolitical observers expect the election to produce an unwieldy coalition and ultimately new elections, perhaps as soon as late this year. \nPrime Minister Paul Martin jetted from coast to coast in a last-ditch bid to keep his job on Sunday in the dying hours of a month-long campaign. \nBut voters were still expected to strip Martin of his majority in the House of Commons as punishment for a 1990s patronage scandal which saw millions of dollars of public money diverted to Liberal-friendly advertising firms. \nMartin visited eastern Nova Scotia before stops in Ottawa, the central city of Winnipeg, and western British Columbia before a scheduled return home to Montreal early yesterday. \nThe prime minister, presenting himself as guardian of Canada's state healthcare system, is seeking a first personal mandate from voters, and a fourth consecutive election win for the Liberals. \nBut final opinion polls suggest the election is a virtual dead heat between the Liberals and opposition Conservative Party. \nNeither party is expected to win an overall majority so the election will likely usher in a period of prolonged political uncertainty after more than a decade of Liberal rule. \nMartin, who took over from former prime minister Jean Chretien in December, rolled up his pants and went for a paddle in the North Atlantic in Nova Scotia, and said he couldn't take a single vote for granted. \n"Why are we working so hard? We're doing it because we're fighting for the Canada we want," he said. \nBut Conservative leader Stephen Harper, who wants to devolve power to the provinces, hike military spending and provide a middle class tax cut, accused Martin of panicking. \n"This is just panic when you start pulling up your travel schedule and flying all over the country," he said. \nOnly in recent days has Martin checked a surge by the Conservatives, who are threatening in traditional Liberal territory in Ontario. \nTwo smaller groups, the Bloc Quebecois, a separatist party in the francophone province of Quebec, and the left-of-center New Democratic Party (NDP), look set to play a key role if the bigger parties go searching for a coalition partner.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against