Joe Biden, standing on a Las Vegas stage roughly 1,000 feet from the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, took on White House rival Bernie Sanders Saturday night for his past vote to exempt gun manufacturers from liability for shootings.
The former vice president devoted the majority of his speech at a Democratic gala on the Las Vegas Strip to deliver a fiery charge against the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers, vowing to hold gun makers accountable if elected president.
"When I'm the president, we'll take them on, remove the immunity and allow those parents who are trying now to sue for the pain and mayhem they have caused," Biden said on stage at the Tropicana casino-resort. The resort sits adjacent to the grounds where a gunman in 2017 unleashed a torrent of gunfire on a country music festival—an incident that only Biden referred to Saturday night.
Biden, after decrying "carnage in the streets" and the anguish of families whose loved ones were killed in gun violence, said he "will not rest until they're able to sue the gun manufacturers and get a ban assault weapons."
Biden didn't cite Sanders by name when referring to a 2005 federal law that shields gun makers from liability in most crimes, but said, "some of the people running for office voted for that exemption."
"Ladies and gentlemen that immunity was granted. Granted. And it was a horrible, horrible decision," he said.
Biden's speech came after a frenzied Saturday of campaigning across Las Vegas on the first day of early voting in Nevada's Democratic caucuses. Biden, counting on Nevada's diverse population to keep his campaign alive, faces his biggest challenge in the Western state from Sanders, who is seen as the most well-positioned in the state and has reached deep into Latino neighborhoods.
After holding forth on gun violence, Biden lasered in on health care, a sticking point for Sanders with Nevada's most politically powerful labor group, the casino workers' Culinary Union. Again without naming Sanders, Biden repeated a recent argument from the power Culinary Union that a single-payer "Medicare for All" system would eliminate union members' health coverage won through collective bargaining. Biden touted his idea to add a "public option" to existing health insurance markets.
And, he added, "I can actually get my plan passed."
Biden's speech came hours after he sought to downplay expectations for next Saturday's Nevada caucuses, telling reporters that he did not need to win.
"I just have to do well," he said.
Sanders, who was the first candidate to take the stage Saturday night, laced into billionaire candidate Mike Bloomberg, rattling off a list of heresies against the Democratic party he accused the former New York mayor of committing. Bloomberg implemented "racist policies like stop and frisk" in New York, opposed the minimum wage and higher taxes on the wealthy during the Obama administration, Sanders said.
"The simple truth is that Mayor Bloomberg, with all his money, will not create the kind of excitement and energy we need to have the voter turnout we must have to defeat Donald Trump," Sanders said.
It was a rare attack by name from Sanders. Bloomberg is skipping the Nevada caucuses and was not at the Clark County Democratic Party dinner where Sanders, Biden and other 2020 contenders spoke.
While the state's formal presidential caucuses are still a week away, Democrats opened the first of four days of early voting across more than 80 locations. State party officials at some sites across Nevada were overwhelmed by long lines.
A spokeswoman for the Nevada Democrats, Molly Forgey, downplayed concerns related to the large early turnout as the political world anxiously watched from afar less than two weeks after Iowa's presidential caucuses turned disastrous . Forgey said Nevada Democratic Party staff and volunteers were working to make every site as efficient as possible.
Early votes cast on paper ballots will be added to in-person caucus votes made on Feb. 22, when Democrats will attend about 2,000 precinct meetings around the state. The Nevada State Democratic Party abandoned its plans to use an app like the one that caused trouble in Iowa and has scrambled to come up with a new system to tabulate results.
Former Sen. Harry Reid, an icon in Nevada's Democratic politics, told reporters that "people should not be counting Joe Biden out of the race yet," but also offered warm words for Sanders' candidacy. When asked he downplayed concerns from some Democrats that Sanders might hurt other candidates should he become the nominee.
Elizabeth Warren, reeling after a weak performance last week in New Hampshire, t ook the stage Saturday night with a raggedy voice, having lost it after a day barnstorming the city. Warren said she's spent a career fighting powerful interests on behalf of typical Americans.
"I'm not in this campaign to put forward a bunch of proposals that have been carefully designed not to offend big donors," the Massachusetts senator said. "I'm in this campaign to fight, from a lifetime of fighting for working people. I'm in this campaign to fight from the heart."
Earlier Saturday, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar tried to introduce herself to the state's voters, addressing an African American festival in a Las Vegas park. She praised the state's voting protections and Democratic legislative majority while pitching her appeal to pivotal Midwestern voters.
"In the middle of the country where I'm from I want a little more Nevada there," Klobuchar said. "My plan is to build a great blue wall around those states and make Donald Trump pay for it."
Canada's transport minister said Wednesday his country is demanding official status in Iran's investigation of the crash of a Ukraine International Airlines jet in Tehran last week.
Iran admits its air-defense forces shot the plane down, having not identified it as a commercial airliner.
All 176 people aboard were killed, including 138 people who were headed for Canada and 57 Canadians.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau said two Canadian investigators are in Iran as part of an international team and have been getting good co-operation, but he wants their participation in the probe formalized.
He said the plane's "black boxes" are in Iranian hands, but another two investigators are ready to go wherever and whenever the recorders are examined.
Canada is organizing a meeting in London on Thursday with representatives from several countries that lost citizens in the crash, to co-ordinate dealings with Iran.
Universities across Canada, meanwhile, held a moment of silence Wednesday to honor the victims as many students, faculty and researchers from more than a dozen Canadian universities were among those who died.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new Cabinet on Wednesday and Chrystia Freeland is moving from foreign affairs to become Canada's deputy prime minister.
Freeland will still oversee Canada-U.S. relations and the new trade agreement with the United States and Mexico that still needs to be ratified.
Trudeau also named Freeland to be intergovernmental affairs minister. The role oversees relations with the provinces at a time of increasing dissatisfaction in western Canada.
"Chrystia and I have worked very closely on some of the biggest files facing Canada, Canada and the world but particularly Canada and the United States," Trudeau said.
"Our ability to work well together on these issues that quite frankly touch national unity, touch energy and the environment, touch relations with all provinces and all regions in this country is an extremely important thing at a time where we see some very different perspectives in the country that need to be brought together," he said.
Trudeau's Liberal party failed to elect one member of Parliament in oil-rich Alberta and Saskatchewan. Voters in the rest of Canada elected members who vowed to tackle climate change.
"The election sent a message from the West to our party and now is a moment when we need to respond by listening really hard," said Freeland, who was born in Alberta.
Freeland called Canada the strongest liberal democracy in the world today but said this is one of the most challenging environments for liberal democracies since World War II. The former journalist said Canada is facing big issues and the country needs to face them united.
Quebec lawyer Francois-Philippe Champagne will leave his current post at the infrastructure ministry to take over from Freeland at foreign affairs. He takes over as Canada speaks robustly in defense of human rights and the international rule of law.
Relations between Canada and China are at the lowest point since the Tiananmen Square massacre after Canada arrested a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei on a U.S. extradition request last December.
Beijing detained Canadian ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release the daughter of Huawei's founder. China has also sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended imports of Canadian canola.
Bill Morneau remains Canada's finance minister. Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair becomes the country's public safety minister.
Ottawa, Oct 24 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Clear geographical and ideological divisions were starkly revealed in Canada following Monday's general election that left Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party shut out from representation in two western provinces and facing a resurgent nationalist faction in the eastern French-speaking province of Quebec.
"Canadians woke up this morning to a more divided country," Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer told reporters at a Tuesday news conference in Regina, the capital city of the western province of Saskatchewan where he was re-elected to a seat in Parliament.
"The separatist Bloc Quebecois is back on the rise - and Alberta and Saskatchewan have completely rejected Trudeau's policies," said Scheer.
The Bloc, a nationalist party established in 1991 to advocate for the province's separation from Canada, won 32 of the 78 federal ridings in Quebec, replacing the left-of-center New Democrat Party as the third party in the House of Commons.
Trudeau's Liberal 157-seat minority government will have 35 members of Parliament from Quebec, including Trudeau, so it won't necessarily need the Bloc's 32-member parliamentary caucus on side to pass legislation.
However, the Quebec-only party more than tripled its results from the 2015 Canadian election, when it only won 10 seats, and its strong showing on Monday likely helped contribute to the Liberals' loss of a second majority government.
And like his late father and former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who had to deal with Quebec's first pro-separatist government during his time in office, Justin Trudeau will have the nationalist Bloc pushing the agenda of a province the federal Liberals cannot afford to alienate at a time their numbers in western Canada have diminished.
The Liberals lost all their seats in Alberta and Saskatchewan, including two held by cabinet ministers. Trudeau acknowledged the absence of representation there in his victory speech on Monday in which he told residents of both provinces that they are "an essential part of our great country."
"I've heard your frustration, and I want to be there to support you," the prime minister said.
Trouble is the separatist woes Trudeau is spared in Quebec now confront him in oil-rich Alberta province, where a once-simmering "Wexit movement", a western Canadian version of Brexit, was ignited following the Liberals' minority win in this week's election.
The VoteWexit.com Facebook group's membership was over 205,000 as of Wednesday, a more than 10,000-member increase over the past 30 days, and Trudeau is a target of the online anger.
Yet while humbled by a reduced parliamentary seat-count, the Liberals have not had the question of leadership raised since the election as it has with the Conservatives, who won 121 seats and more votes (nearly 6.2 million) than any other political party, including the Liberals, who received some 5.9 million ballots.
But in this year's election, the Conservatives failed to win more seats than the Liberals in Canada's two most populous provinces of Ontario and Quebec, where Scheer's social conservatism is broadly less popular than Trudeau's progressive agenda.
Expectations were high that 40-year-old Scheer would exploit the Liberals' past-year scandals involving Canadian construction giant SNC-Lavalin and images that surfaced of Trudeau in blackface.
In an online Ipsos poll for Global News taken on election day in which 9,437 voters were asked their views of what each of the four main Canadian political leaders should do if their parties fail to form a majority government, 63 percent thought that Scheer should resign.
When asked Tuesday whether he would remain as leader, Scheer said he would be "staying on" to head the Conservatives as the "strongest" official opposition, by seat-count, in Canadian history.
Yet, if more than half of members favor a leadership race, Scheer, a former and the youngest-ever speaker of the House of Commons, could face another contest.
Toronto, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was set to win a second term in Canada's national elections Monday, losing the majority but delivering unexpectedly strong results despite having been weakened by a series of scandals that tarnished his image as a liberal icon.
Trudeau's Liberal party was projected to win the most seats in Parliament, giving it the best chance to form a government. Still, the Liberals were poised to fall short of a majority, meaning they will have to rely on an opposition party to stay in power.
"It's not quite the same as 2015. It's not all owing to the leader," said Robert Bothwell, a professor of Canadian history and international relations at the University of Toronto. "Trudeau is prime minister because the rest of the party was able to pull itself together and prevail. While Trudeau certainly deserves credit for what has happened he's really going to have to demonstrate qualities that he hasn't yet shown."
Still, the results were a victory for Trudeau, whose clean-cut image took a hit after old photos of him in blackface and brownface surfaced last month.
"I'm surprised at how well Trudeau has done," said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. "I don't think anybody expected Trudeau to get a majority but they are not that far off."
With results still trickling in early Tuesday, the Liberals had 157 seats — 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons.
The Canadian vote came down to what was essentially a choice between the handsome and charismatic Trudeau and the Conservatives' unassuming leader, Andrew Scheer, who was seen as the perfect antidote to Trudeau's flash and celebrity.
Trudeau reasserted liberalism in 2015 after almost 10 years of Conservative Party government in Canada, but scandals combined with high expectations damaged his prospects.
Perhaps sensing Trudeau was in trouble, Barack Obama made an unprecedented endorsement by a former American president in urging Canadians to re-elect Trudeau and saying the world needs his progressive leadership now.
Trudeau, son of the liberal icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, is one of the few remaining progressive world leaders in the Trump era and even appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine under the headline "Why Can't He Be Our President?"
Scheer, 40, is a career politician who was seen as a possible antidote to Trudeau's flash. But Bothwell said late Monday that he expected Scheer to resign.
"He's gone," Bothwell said. "He ran a really dirty campaign. There is nothing to be proud of on his side. He had the opportunity and blew it."
Among other things, Scheer called Trudeau a phony who couldn't even remember how many times he had worn blackface.
Trudeau also was hurt by a scandal that erupted this year when his former attorney general said he pressured her to halt the prosecution of a Quebec company. Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs, but the damage gave a boost to the Conservative Party.
Trudeau's Liberals will likely rely on the New Democrats to form a new government and stay in power. Opposition New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh said early Tuesday he had congratulated Trudeau and vowed to play a constructive role in Parliament.
Wiseman, from the University of Toronto, said Monday's results left the Conservatives deeply disappointed.
"They had an opportunity here to win," he said.
Scheer had promised to end a national carbon tax and cut government spending, including foreign aid, by 25%.
Trudeau embraced immigration at a time when the U.S. and other countries are closing their doors, and he legalized cannabis nationwide.
His efforts to strike a balance on the environment and the economy have been criticized by both the right and left. He brought in a carbon tax to fight climate change but rescued a stalled pipeline expansion project to get Alberta's oil to international markets.
His also negotiated a new free trade deal for Canada with the U.S. and Mexico amid threats by U.S. President Donald Trump to scrap it.
Trump, who has clashed with Trudeau over trade, tweeted his congratulations early Tuesday, saying, "Canada is well served."
Pat Gill, a Vancouver retiree, said she voted for Trudeau.
"I think people know he's made some mistakes," said Gill, who is 74. "I'm hoping he's learned in the last four years. I still think he's our best bet."