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In today's Morning Brief, as pro-Palestinian protests continue to grow across Canadian campuses, CBC News looks at what student organizers and observers have to say about claims that the protests are being funded or influenced by outside forces.

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Some blame outsiders for spread of pro-Palestinian protests. The idea isn't new, students and experts say

Pro-Palestinian protests continue to grow on campuses across North America, with encampments at 15 Canadian universities set up to date.

But the demonstrations have also attracted scrutiny, with some critics raising questions about who is supporting these groups and pointing to "outside agitators" and shadowy sources of funding.

For example, speaking in the House of Commons last week, Kevin Vuong, Independent MP for Spadina-Fort York in Toronto, claimed that the University of Toronto (U of T) encampment was a "sham protest" and that the majority of those present were "demonstrators-for-hire," not students.

WATCH | U of T students respond to claims of outside influence: 

Students at U of T encampment on claims they’re paid to protest

1 month ago
Duration 2:13

 In an April 30 interview with As It Happens, Fabrice Labeau, vice-provost of student life and learning at McGill University in Montreal, said the university has "seen the arrival of large numbers of people from outside the McGill community" but did not provide specifics.

Some have attempted to connect the protests to conspiracies involving billionaire financier George Soros or even Hamas, the militant group that led the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel that Israeli officials say killed an estimated 1,200 people. The subsequent Israeli military campaign in Gaza has killed around 35,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials.

Several students whom CBC News interviewed over the past two weeks say the allegations of outside influences are baseless and insulting.

"I'm very appalled by those claims," said Kalliopé Anvar McCall, a fourth-year U of T student in diaspora studies who took part in the encampment.

She said the comments are part of "deliberate attempts to try to weaponize various terms or various ideas against pro-Palestinian expression to try to silence us … to tarnish our image.

"I can say with 100 per cent certainty that these [claims] are completely false and unfounded." Read the full story here.

Controlled explosions set off on collapsed Baltimore bridge during cleanup

Smoke and flames erupt after controlled demolition explosives were sent off on the remnants of a steel bridge that was resting on top of a container ship.

(Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Crews conduct a controlled demolition of a section of the Francis Scott Key Bridge resting on the Dali container ship in Baltimore, Md., on Monday. The bridge collapsed on March 26 when the ship lost power and struck a support column, killing six roadway construction workers. Watch the video here.

In brief

More than two decades after an Indigenous woman's body was found at the side of a road, the RCMP has agreed to apologize to her family for failing to properly investigate her death. The apology follows a probe by the Mounties' watchdog body — the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) — which pointed to gaps in two separate investigations into the woman's disappearance. The CRCC, an independent agency that handles complaints about RCMP members' conduct, said the investigations were unreasonable and the officers' conclusion that there was no evidence of foul play was premature. "Any death is tragic, but a death replete with unanswered questions is undoubtedly even more painful," wrote CRCC chair Michelaine Lahaie in her final report, obtained by CBC News through an access to information report. "A more thorough investigation may have been able to answer some or most of these questions." The report is heavily redacted for privacy reasons — names, locations and even some dates are blacked out. Read the full story here.

A Montreal-area man is questioning his bank's security practices after one of his cheques was deposited twice. About a month ago, Christopher Michaels was doing his taxes when he noticed a $150 cheque on his bank records that he did not remember writing. "There's not a lot of cheques that typically go through that particular account," said Michaels. At first, he thought it was for his snow removal company. But it turned out to be a cheque he'd given as a wedding gift nearly two years earlier. The cheque was first cashed in July 2022 — and again in December 2023. Banks don't have to cash a cheque if it's too old, which is usually six months after the date it's issued. But this is just a federal guideline, not a law. "I've misdated cheques before," he said. "And I've had people come back to me and say, 'Oh, the bank won't accept it, you have to submit me a new cheque.'" When he took a closer look, he saw his cheque was deposited into two different accounts using a mobile application, which allows customers to deposit cheques by taking a photo. Michaels reported it to his Royal Bank of Canada branch and filed a police report. But he's upset that his bank did not detect it in the first place. Read the full story here.

WATCH | A look at why cheques can be deposited twice: 

Cheques are being cashed twice. What are banks doing about it?

1 month ago
Duration 2:00

Kanika Maheshwari moved to Brampton, Ont., from India in 2020 to study business management. Her dream, she says, was to open a jewelry business one day. Since graduating, she's been working with a logistics company as a sales executive. The 29-year-old has built a life in Canada with her husband, who works as a trader — both are saving to open her jewelry store. But she says her dream is at risk because her Canadian work permit expires in August, and she hasn't heard back about her permanent residency (PR) application since she applied last year, due to Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) draws which have been consistently way higher than her score. The CRS is used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to score immigrants applying for a permanent residency, using factors like age, level of education, English proficiency and work experience. Every two weeks, IRCC draws a CRS rank and applicants with that score or higher are invited to submit documents to receive a PR card. All the draws since January this year for the general category have averaged over 540, according to IRCC's website. "That's terribly high. It's impossible to meet and it's really rare," says Manan Gupta, a Brampton immigration consultant. Read the full story here.

There's a lot more blue than white in the ocean around Newfoundland and Labrador this year. Icebergs in the region's waters are smaller and rarer, sea ice is thinner and sparser. Is it another sign of climate change, or just a bad year for icebergs? As the CBC's Zach Goudie explains, it's both. Watch the video here.

The United Nations is facing scrutiny after lowering its counts of Palestinian women and children killed since Israel began bombing Gaza in its seven-month war against Hamas. The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which releases impact reports on the situation in Israel and Gaza every two to three days, revised its tallies last week to show that approximately 5,000 women and 7,800 children have been killed as of April 30. Those numbers are under half what the agency had previously reported. Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for UN Secretary General António Guterres, said last week the UN is consistently revising and cross-checking its figures — which it obtains from Gaza's Ministry of Health, the Gaza Media Office and other sources — but blamed the "fog of war" for the difficulty in being able to ascertain accurate death tolls. Read the full story here.

Now here's some good news to start your Tuesday: A Toronto couple who met and fell in love at the hospital where they worked recreated their nuptials where it all began. Watch the video here.

Front Burner: Eurovision's charged political history

Organizers insist that Eurovision, the campy international song contest, is "non-political." A look at its history suggests it is anything but.

Today in history: May 14

1948: British rule in Palestine ends and the independent state of Israel is declared. It was led by David Ben-Gurion.

1955: Representatives from eight Communist bloc countries, including the Soviet Union, sign the Warsaw Pact in the Polish capital.

1973: The United States launches Skylab I, its first manned space station.

2001: Canadian author Alistair Macleod's novel, No Great Mischief, wins the world's richest literary prize for a single work of fiction. The IMPAC Dublin award was worth the equivalent of $172,000 Cdn.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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