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2 Canadians killed in Ukraine’s bloodiest battle in Bakhmut



Two Canadians have been killed in action around the fiercely contested Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, with one of them telling CBC News before his death that the conditions on the front line were like a “meat grinder.”

Kyle Porter, 27, of Calgary, and Cole Zelenco, 21, of St. Catharines, Ont., were both serving with Ukraine’s International Legion, which was attached to the 92nd Mechanised Brigade.

The unit has been bearing the brunt of a ferocious Ukrainian effort to hold Bakhmut against a determined Russian attack.

The city in the eastern Donbas region has been the site of the longest running and bloodiest battle of the war, with thousands — if not tens of thousands — of casualties on both sides.


Porter had been in contact with CBC News in the days leading up to his death. He had exchanged several text messages and shared his anxiety about the difficult conditions at the front.

“Let me figure out how I am going to survive the next few days…” he wrote three days before he was killed.

“It was a meat grinder the first time and I’m not expecting it any better this time round,” he texted.

Two men wearing beards and hats smile and shake hands.
Zelenco, left, and Porter were hit by Russian artillery as they defended a key supply route into the besieged city, their commanding officer said. (Name withheld)

In an interview their commanding officer, the foreign legion fighter known as “the dentist,” said that on April 26 at around 6 p.m., the two Canadians were part of a larger group of soldiers tasked with holding an important supply route into Bakhmut.

The commander told CBC News that the unit came under intense artillery fire from Russian troops. Porter, Zelenco and at least three other Ukrainian soldiers sought shelter in a reinforced bunker, he said, but the bunker took a direct hit.

All were killed.

Six rescuers in uniforms pose in front of rubble from a building.
Kyle Porter, third from right, had previously worked with an urban search and rescue team in Kharkiv. (Submitted by Kyle Porter)

“They both were very proud of what they were doing,” said the commander. “We were like a family. It is like I have lost my brothers.”

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement that it is “aware of reports” about two Canadians being killed and is “following up with authorities for more information.”

Both men had previously served in the Canadian Armed Forces but had left the army before signing up to fight in Ukraine. Their commander said the two had become close friends.

A photo given to CBC News showed them standing together dressed in combat fatigues.

An unofficial count by CBC News would make them the fourth and fifth Canadians to be killed in the war since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

A man wearing a uniform holds his hands in air over someone on the ground, as people watch from the side, during a training exercise.
Kyle Porter, who trained as a medic with the Canadian Forces, instructs Ukrainian rescue workers in First Aid in Kharkiv. (Submitted by Kyle Porter)

In Porter’s texts to CBC News, he referred to having braved the terrible conditions in Bakhmut once before.

“During his missions, [Porter] saved the lives of wounded soldiers despite often being under Russian small arms and artillery fire while doing so,” said a statement released on behalf of Porter’s friends and family.

It went on to note that Ukrainian commanders had recommended him for a medal for his “gallant actions” near Bakhmut.

A statement by Zelenco’s friends posted on a GoFundMe page said Zelenco was “intensely passionate” about serving in Ukraine and had served two tours there.

Porter had previously worked in Ukraine as a member of an urban search and rescue team based in Kharkiv last spring, which is where CBC News initially met him.

At the time, he was acting as the team’s medic and described several close calls where he escaped Russian shelling.

“War is cruelty,” he said at the time, even while noting he hoped to return to Ukraine “in a different role.”

Two soldiers beside a vehicle
Ukrainian service members from a third separate assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine prepare to fire a howitzer D30 at a front line, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on April 23. (Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters)

The family statement said Porter felt a “strong need to do more” and once back in Ukraine, his skills and military experience earned him a promotion to the rank of junior sergeant.

Ukraine’s army is thought to be just days away from launching a major counter-offensive against Russian troops and the battle to hold Bakhmut is seen as decisive.

Zelenco’s body was recovered from the battlefield and is now in Kharkiv. The GoFundMe page indicates $30,000 has been raised to cover funeral and transportation expenses.

Porter’s body was not immediately recovered but his commander indicated members of his unit were hoping to do so shortly.

Paul Hughes, a long-time Calgary community volunteer, now based in Kharkiv, where he runs several charities, says he plans to help transport Porter’s body away from the front line to Kharkiv.

“There are people around the world who have been motivated to come over here and do humanitarian work, or, like Kyle and Cole, who’ve come over and lost their lives,” said Hughes.

“They are doing everything they possibly can to defend Ukraine, which is a very, very beautiful and amazing country.”

The White House estimated on Monday that Russia’s military has suffered 100,000 casualties in the last five months in fighting against Ukraine in the Bakhmut region.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters the figure, based on U.S. intelligence estimates, included more than 20,000 dead, half of them from the Wagner Group. The Bakhmut offensive has stalled and failed, he said.



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Cigarettes in Canada will soon bear their own health warnings – CTV News



Canada will soon require health warnings to be printed directly on individual cigarettes, making it the first country to implement this kind of measure aimed at reducing tobacco usage.

Details of the new regulations were announced on Wednesday, which was World No Tobacco Day. The regulations take effect on Aug. 1 and will be implemented through a phased approach over the next year, the federal government said.

“The requirement for a health warning directly on every cigarette is a world precedent setting measure that will reach every person who smokes with every puff,” stated Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in a news release.


“This innovative measure will be accompanied by enhanced warnings on the package exterior, and health messages on the package interior that are internationally unique. The new regulations deserve strong support.”

As part of the new regulations, the government said it will require labels on the tipping paper, which is the outermost paper of the filter section, of individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, along with other tobacco products. The labels will be written in English and French. 

King size cigarettes are set to be the first to feature the warnings and will be sold by Canadian retailers by the end of July 2024, followed by regular size cigarettes and little cigars with tipping paper and tubes by the end of April 2025.

The government said the new regulations are part of its strategy to reach a target of less than five per cent tobacco use in the country by 2035.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said tobacco use continues to kill 48,000 Canadians each year, but the new measure will make health warnings “virtually unavoidable” and provide a “real and startling reminder” of the health consequences of smoking. 

The labels include messaging like “Poison in every puff,” “Cigarettes cause cancer” and “Tobacco smoke harms children.”

The Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Lung Association and Heart & Stroke Foundation were among the organizations that welcomed the news. On Monday, the three national health organizations issued an open letter, calling on Canada’s premiers to push for initiatives to reduce smoking during settlement negotiations with major tobacco companies.

“It’s going to mean that there’s a warning with every cigarette, every puff, it’s going to be there during every smoke break,” Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, told CTV News Channel.

“It’s a very positive measure and I believe that many other countries are going to follow Canada’s example.”

Doug Roth, CEO of Heart & Stroke, echoed those remarks.  

“Canada is now a global leader of the pack when it comes to health warning regimes for cigarettes,” Roth said in a news release.

“Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada and these important new measures will protect youth and support current smokers in their efforts to quit.”

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Imperial Tobacco Canada said governments should “take a step back and look at the science and benefits” of adopting a “tobacco harm reduction regulatory strategy,” such as promoting vaping as an alternative, similar to what the British government has done.

“A robust regulatory framework is required to govern the manufacture, marketing and sale of vapour products,” said Frank Silva, president and CEO of Imperial Tobacco Canada.

“Unfortunately, some governments are proposing extreme measures that will significantly stop vaping products from fully achieving their harm reduction potential, while doing nothing to address the issue of youth access.”

Other measures the government is taking include strengthening and updating health-related messages on tobacco product packages, extending the requirement for health-related messaging to all tobacco product packages, and implementing the periodic rotation of messages.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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How did Canada’s economy perform in Q1? StatCan to update – Global News



The national economy continued to grow overall in the first quarter of 2023 as consumers spent more in the face of recession fears, according to Statistics Canada.

Canada’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.1 per cent in the first quarter, beating Statistics Canada’s early estimates of 2.5 per cent. The Bank of Canada’s latest forecasts had called for 2.3 per cent growth in Q1.


Household spending was up in the quarter following two periods of minimal growth, the agency said Wednesday, but housing investment slowed in the first quarter amid higher borrowing costs.

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StatCan said Canadians particularly spent more on new vehicles in Q1. In a note to clients Wednesday, CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham ascribed that increase to relief in supply chain kinks meaning previous car orders could finally be delivered.

Canadians also returned to dining and vacations in the quarter, Statistics Canada said, with spending picking up for food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and travel expenditures.

StatCan had also expected the economy contracted by a modest 0.1 per cent in March, but Wednesday’s release shows economic growth was flat for the month.

Flash estimates for April show growth of 0.2 per cent. Grantham said that was a surprise as the public sector strike in that month was expected to be a drag on growth.

Weakness persisted in Canada’s housing market in the first quarter of the year. New construction was down in every province and territory except the Yukon, StatCan said, while renovations and figures tied to resale activity were also down nationally.

The first quarter GDP figures mark a rebound from what StatCan called essentially flat growth in the final quarter of 2022.

The GDP report comes ahead of the Bank of Canada’s next interest rate decision June 7.

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The central bank, which is focused on returning inflation to its two per cent target, paused its aggressive rate hiking cycle earlier this year.

However, governor Tiff Macklem has signalled that the Bank of Canada is still evaluating whether interest rates need to go higher to tame inflation which ticked higher in April.

Grantham said that while the stronger-than-expected GDP figures raise the odds of an interest rate hike next week, he expects the central bank will continue to wait for more data and revise its inflation and GDP forecasts in July before moving again.

— with files from the Canadian Press

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'Difficult day' expected as Halifax-area fire continues to burn out of control –



If the power or data on your device is low, get your wildfire updates on CBC Lite. It’s our low-bandwidth, text-only website.

Officials are expecting yet another challenging day, as crews from across Nova Scotia battle a wildfire burning out of control outside Halifax that has already damaged 200 homes and businesses.

David Steeves of the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources said the fire in the suburbs of Hammonds Plains, Upper Tantallon and Pockwock has grown by roughly 49 hectares to 837 hectares.


Steeves, a technician of forest resources, said the growth is not surprising given the dry and hot weather conditions on Tuesday.

He said Wednesday’s forecast is also not favourable, with dry southwesterly winds expected to gust up to 20 km/h.

The humidity is also expected to be low, at around 20 per cent. He explained that when the relative humidity levels get close to the forecasted temperature, it’s known as “crossover,” which is an indicator of “extreme fire behaviour.”

Steeves said that could create dangerous conditions for crews on the ground.

“Today could possibly be a very difficult day,” he said during a press conference at the incident command centre in Tantallon on Wednesday morning. “Our situational awareness is going to be extremely high.”

A helicopter is seen taking off from a soccer field.
A number of helicopters were dropping water on the blaze. This one is shown landing at a staging area in Tantallon, N.S., to refuel on Wednesday. (Haley Ryan/CBC)

The evacuation zone remains the same, and there is no update on when residents may be able to return. Steeves emphasized that the order “is not what we want to do, it’s what we have to do.”

“This is to keep people alive,” said Steeves.

“This is a very dangerous situation. It’s changing every moment with wind, with fuels, with the lay of the land, how the sun is heating the fuels. Everything is constantly evolving, so we have to take the safest route for the citizens we are here to serve.”

Halifax Fire Deputy Chief David Meldrum said additional resources will be on the scene today, including crews from a number of other communities in the province and from Prince Edward Island.

Meldrum said there are eight fire engines, 14 tankers, two Defence Department trucks and about 100 firefighters working on hot spots and flare-ups.

Late Tuesday afternoon, a new fire was reported on Hammonds Plains Road near the Farmers Dairy building.

While it’s close to the perimeter of the original wildfire in the area, it’s considered a new fire.

The area around Hammonds Plains Road from Farmers Dairy Lane to Giles Drive was shut down and an evacuation order was issued, but it was later rescinded.

Meldrum said he patrolled the area Wednesday morning and it was looking “very good.”

The cause of that fire is not yet known.

Stay out of the woods

During a briefing with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Premier Tim Houston said there is now a provincewide ban on all travel and activity within Nova Scotia’s forests, including hiking, fishing, camping and off-road vehicle use.

Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton pleaded with Nova Scotians to abide by the order, noting there were seven reports of illegal burns on Tuesday after the burn ban was implemented.

“We don’t take this lightly … but we cannot afford to have any more fires,” Rushton told the CBC’s Information Morning.

Officials said on Tuesday that about 151 homes have been destroyed in the suburban communities about 25 kilometres from Halifax that are home to many who work in the city.

A map shows the fire evacuation area and the local state of emergency area in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
A map shows the fire evacuation area and the local state of emergency area, as of 10:25 p.m. AT on Tuesday. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

Terri and Lutz Kottwitz not only lost their home, but also their business.

The couple run ForestKids Early Learning in Yankeetown, which was decimated by the fast-moving fire that started Sunday afternoon in the Westwood Hills subdivision.

“That’s my life. They’re my family,” a tearful Terri Kottwitz said of the children and families that attended the daycare.

Lutz Kottwitz added: “It’s Terri’s purpose in life. It’s everything.”

Terri Kottwitz said they plan to rebuild.

Wooded areas of municipal parks will be closed as of 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Parks such as Shubie Park, Point Pleasant Park and Admiral Cove Park will be fully closed, as they are heavily wooded. Non-wooded areas of parks, like playgrounds and sport fields will remain open for use.

Visuals of homes destroyed by wildfire in Upper Tantallon, N.S.

2 days ago

Duration 0:25

Officials say the fire, which is burning out of control as of Monday morning, is expected to grow.

The restrictions are in place until June 25, “or until conditions allow them to be lifted.”

Mayor Mike Savage said officials are considering reducing the evacuation area boundary so some people who were forced to flee their homes because of the fire might be able to go back sooner.

Savage said a decision will be made Wednesday morning, but that everything hinges on the movement of the wildfire. He said no reductions in evacuated areas would be considered if the risk of fire spreading rises.

“This is dangerous, and it is unpredictable, and fire safety is the No. 1 concern we have,” Savage told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Anyone who wants to help people displaced by the fire can donate to United Way Halifax, which has set up a wildfire recovery appeal, he said.

Information Morning – NS6:26Strategies to guard against smoke inhalation

The Lung association gives us some strategies to guard against smoke inhalation. Michelle Donaldson is director of communications with the Lung Association of Nova Scotia and PEI.

Meldrum said Tuesday that most of the damaged or destroyed structures are single-family homes. He asked for patience from some 16,400 residents who are anxiously awaiting information about their properties.

  • Have a question or something to say? Email: or join us live in the comments now.

Meldrum said Emergency Health Services has seen an increase in respiratory distress calls due to poor air quality, some as far away as Dunbrack Street in Halifax, about 20 kilometres from Upper Tantallon.

Why is the wildfire near Halifax hard to contain?

1 day ago

Duration 1:20

Forest resources technician David Steeves explains the firefighting strategy behind the collective efforts to contain the wildfire in the Upper Tantallon area.

Nova Scotia is offering a one-time payment of $500 per eligible household for those affected by the evacuation order. Residents can apply for that payment through the Canadian Red Cross.

No injuries have been reported and no one has been reported missing.

Officials are investigating what started the initial fire in the Westwood Hills subdivision off Hammonds Plains Road, but officials with the Natural Resources department have said it was likely human activity.

Nova Scotia RCMP Cpl. Guillaume Tremblay said officers are patrolling the affected neighbours 24 hours a day to keep people who should not be there out.

Halifax Regional Police warned residents on Wednesday about a potential scam related to the evacuation orders. They said a member of the public received a call that stated the fire was in their area.

“It is unclear at this time what motivated the call. However, police are taking this very seriously given the timing of the call during a difficult crisis,” a news release said.

“We want the public to know that they will not receive individual calls from official sources asking them to evacuate their homes. Evacuation orders will come from emergency alerts through the proper government channels.”

Evacuation areas

The municipality said the evacuation zone could change, and if people need to leave, they should bring their pets, important documents and medication with them, as well as supplies for 72 hours.

People who live in the areas affected by the local state of emergency should have a bag packed and ready to go because they might need to leave on short notice.

Areas affected by evacuations so far include:

  • Westwood Hills subdivision.
  • White Hills subdivision.
  • Highland Park subdivision.
  • Haliburton Hills.
  • Pockwock Road.
  • Glen Arbour.
  • Lucasville Road to Sackville Drive.
  • Maplewood.
  • Voyageur Way.
  • St George Boulevard, including all side streets.
  • McCabe Lake area.
  • Indigo Shores.

The Halifax Regional Municipality said in a news release Monday afternoon that all residents who have been required to leave must register with 311 (toll-free at 1-800-835-6428, 1.866.236.0020 for hearing impaired only line teletypewriter users).

A middle-age woman and older man stand next to each other with a park and water in the background.
Terri, left, and Lutz Kottwitz said they plan to rebuild the ForestKids Early Learning daycare. (CBC)

School closures

The following schools are closed Wednesday:

  • Bay View High School.
  • Tantallon Junior Elementary.
  • Tantallon Senior Elementary.
  • Five Bridges Junior High.
  • St. Margaret’s Bay Elementary.
  • Kingswood Elementary.
  • Hammonds Plains Consolidated.
  • Madeline Symonds Middle School.
  • Charles P. Allen High School.
  • Harry R. Hamilton Elementary.
  • Millwood Elementary.
  • Millwood High School.
  • Sackville Heights Elementary.
  • Sackville Heights Junior High.
  • Basinview Drive Community School.
  • Bedford South School.

Residents who fled Halifax-area wildfire describe roadsides in flames, homes burning

Shelburne County forest fire still out of control, local state of emergency declared

Comfort centres

The Halifax Regional Municipality declared a local state of emergency Sunday night in order to access additional support. 

Comfort centres have been opened at: 

  • Black Point and Area Community Centre, 8579 St Margarets Bay Rd., opens at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and will remain open until further notice.
  • Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre, 1583 Beaver Bank Rd., opens at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and will remain open until further notice.
  • Canada Games Centre, 26 Thomas Raddall Dr., open 24 hours.
  • John W. Lindsay YMCA, 5640 Sackville St., Monday to Friday 5:45 a.m. to 10 p.m, Saturday and Sunday 7:45 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Community YMCA, 2269 Gottingen St., Halifax, Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A mobile primary health clinic will be available at the Canada Games comfort centre on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic will be able to provide care for non-urgent health issues, like prescription refills, minor respiratory symptoms, sore throat, headache, muscle pain and mental health and addiction support.


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