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Afghan immigration routes nearly full, thousands to be left behind: MPs, NGOs

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OTTAWA — Members of Parliament and charitable groups are warning that two immigration programs for Afghans who helped Canadian Forces and those at special risk from the Taliban are almost full and thousands living in peril could be left behind.

Canada has created a special program for Afghans who assisted Canadians, including interpreters for the military and their families. It also established a humanitarian program for vulnerable Afghans, including LGBTQ people and human-rights defenders.

The Canadian government has promised to bring 40,000 Afghans to Canada through these two programs and other routes, including private sponsorship.

The Immigration Department confirmed that of 18,000 spots in the program for Afghans who helped Canada, it has received almost 15,000 applications as well as referrals for the remaining 3,000 spaces.

Aidan Strickland, spokesperson for Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, said the government is “not discontinuing the special immigration measures for Afghan refugees.”

But she said the Immigration Department has “received referrals from the Department of National Defence and Global Affairs Canada for the remaining spaces in the special immigration program.”

Of the 14,935 applications received so far for the program, 10,670 have been approved, according to figures from the Immigration Department.

Almost 7,000 Afghans have so far arrived in Canada via this program.

NDP MP Jenny Kwan said she had also been told by Afghans applying to join the separate humanitarian program that there are no more spots left.

“What I am hearing on the ground is that the spots available are getting filled up or at least spoken for,” said Kwan, a member of Parliament’s special committee on Afghanistan. “So many will be left behind.”

Over 8,700 Afghans have arrived in Canada under the humanitarian program.

The program relies on referrals, including by the UN Refugee Agency and human-rights organizations based in Europe.

Kwan said she had been told that these referral spots are also filling up.

Non-governmental organizations and opposition MPs are calling on ministers to extend the programs, warning that many vulnerable Afghans including interpreters who helped Canadian Forces face reprisals from the Taliban.

A group of NGOs who worked in Afghanistan met with officials from the Immigration Department last month and were told the spots were filling up fast.

They and MPs warn once the spots on the programs have been filled, Afghans who helped Canadians will be stranded and at the mercy of the Taliban.

Afghans living in Canada told Parliament’s special Afghanistan committee that the Taliban is hunting down and persecuting Afghans who helped Canadian Forces. Some Afghans are burning documents showing their links to Canada and fleeing from house to house.

Women in Afghanistan also face increasing restrictions, including on the right to work and travel alone. The Taliban has decreed that women in public outside their homes must cover their face, including newsreaders on TV.

Lauryn Oates, executive director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, said the situation is getting “worse and worse on so many levels” with many women who support their families losing their jobs.

She called on the government to extend the program designed to evacuate Afghans who helped Canadians, warning that once the spots are filled, many with no way out could lose hope.

“We think that the 18,000 doesn’t meet the obligation and that the program should be extended. That means adding more spots,” she said.

Strickland said the government “has received hundreds of thousands of communications from those expressing interest in coming to Canada since the fall of Kabul.”

“Regrettably, this is a far larger number than we can bring to Canada,” she said.

“The unfortunate reality is that not everyone who expressed interest in coming to Canada will be eligible under the special programs for Afghanistan,” she added.

“Our commitment of bringing at least 40,000 vulnerable Afghans to Canada has not wavered and it remains one of the largest programs around the world.”

She said if Afghans not included in the 40,000 figure are still interested in immigrating, “we encourage them to apply through our other immigration streams offered by the government of Canada.”

The Conservatives asked for the Afghan programs to be extended.

Jasraj Singh Hallan, Conservative immigration critic, said his office is still receiving messages from Afghans who worked for the Canadian Armed Forces who have yet to hear back from the Immigration Department about applications submitted straight after the Taliban took control.

“As the one-year anniversary of the fall of Afghanistan approaches, and the temporary programs put in place are set to expire, less than 7,000 Afghans who assisted the government of Canada have actually arrived in Canada,” he said.

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

 

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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Canada Day Ottawa: Ottawa police prepare for festivities, possible protests | CTV News – CTV News Ottawa

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Police officers in cruisers and on bicycles are patrolling downtown Ottawa and the Parliamentary Precinct today, as the city prepares for Canada Day festivities and possible protests against COVID-19 mandates and the federal government.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to visit downtown Ottawa and the LeBreton Flats area over the next few days to celebrate Canada’s 155th birthday. Canadian Forces veteran James Topp will also complete his cross-country march at the National War Memorial, as he protests the remaining COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

At LeBreton Flats, there was a very strong security presence Friday morning as preparations continued for the Canadian Heritage Canada Day festivities. The Canada Day daytime show begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, while the evening show begins at 7:30 p.m. 

Ottawa police interim Chief Steve Bell says the increased police presence will remain in place through the weekend.

“We’ve talked for a number of days about all the planning and preparation we have and the expectation of people attending,” Bell told CTV News Ottawa. “I think what you’re seeing is those plans coming into action and us being out there and vigilant around who’s attending, and trying to make sure people that understand it’s a safe place on Canada Day and you should come down and enjoy the festivities.”

On Wednesday, officers stopped a small convoy of vehicles in the area of Pinecrest Road and Hwy. 417 and several tickets were issued.   Bell defended the actions of officers to stop vehicles in the capital region.

“We actually have good legal grounds for the plans we’ve put in place. We make sure that we stay on legal grounds because that’s very important as a police service,” Bell said. “We’re comfortable with the posture we’re taking and the actions officers are taking, and it’s all in the name that we ensure public safety and we can have a good, festive Canada Day.”

JAMES TOPP ARRIVES IN OTTAWA

Canadian Forces veteran James Topp will finish his cross-country march to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates this evening at the National War Memorial.

The final leg of his journey began at 1811 Robertson Road at 10 a.m. Topp is scheduled to arrive at Hog’s Back Park at 1:30 p.m. and finish his march at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at 6 p.m.

“We have been in contact with Mr. Topp and his group and have plans in place to ensure that he can safely and lawfully move from the west end of the city down to the Parliament Hill buildings,” interim chief Bell said on Monday.

Speaking in Ottawa last week, Topp said a number of groups that formed out of the Freedom Convoy had come together to protest the federal government.

“What I would like to see with the establishment of C3 – the Canadian Citizens Coalition is for us to have further conversations about the way forward, about the way of the future, of what we see Canada being and becoming,” said Topp.

SNOWBIRDS 

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will not be taking part in Canada Day festivities in Ottawa.

The Royal Canadian Air Force announced the Snowbirds fly-past over Ottawa on Friday has been cancelled, following a problem with the aircraft’s emergency ejection parachute that grounded the fleet for nearly a week.

PARLIAMENT HILL

Visitors to Parliament Hill will need to pass through a security checkpoint, and be searched by a Parliamentary Protective Service officer.

A sign on the fence along Wellington Street says several items are restricted, including tables, speakers, barbecues, aerosols, weapons, fireworks and sporting equipment.

MOTOR VEHICLE CONTROL ZONE

A motor vehicle control zone remains in effect around the Parliamentary Precinct, downtown Ottawa and roads near LeBreton Flats.

The zone stretches from Colonel By Drive/Sussex Drive in the east, Booth Street in the west, Laurier Avenue in the south and Wellington Street in the north, along with the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and Albert Street west of Booth Street.

The roads in the motor vehicle control zone are not closed today; however, motor vehicles taking part in any form of demonstration, event or protest will not be permitted in the area. There will be no on-street parking or stopping on roads in the control zone.

The city of Ottawa says a motor vehicle control zone will be in effect from Wednesday at 8 a.m. until July 4 at 6 a.m. (City of Ottawa/Twitter)

TICKETING AND TOWING VEHICLES

Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services says officers are out ensuring all parking regulations are observed in the motor vehicle control zone.

“All vehicles found failing to observe the no-stopping zones will be ticketed and towed. Parking time limits and no parking zones outside the centre core will also be strictly enforced,” the city said.

Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Ottawa Bylaw says 120 parking tickets were issued and 28 vehicles were towed in the vehicle control zone.

Ottawa Bylaw will also be focusing on the following bylaws to ensure residents and visitors obey the rules over the Canada Day weekend.

  • No unnecessary motor-vehicle or other noise, including speakers or shouting
  • No unnecessary motor-vehicle idling
  • No encumbering a sidewalk or roadway by any means, including setting up tents or other illegal structures
  • No public urination and defecation
  • No open air fires
  • No littering
  • Discharging of fireworks – contravening any regulations under Fireworks By-Law.

DOWNTOWN PARKING

Ottawa City Hall and the underground municipal parking facility will be closed all weekend.

City Hall and the parking structure will be closed from 5 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. on Monday.

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Tips for starting online betting safely

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Sports betting has been part of the entertainment world for a long time now, but it has become even more popular now. This is because of the internet and especially online betting. It has increased the number of opportunities for betting and now people don’t need to leave their homes to have fun.

 

The internet has some of the most popular options such as NFL Week 1 odds and more rare possibilities. Because of this diversity, you can be sure that you can find an option fitting your taste. But if you have never bet on sports online before, you need to know how to do so safely. This article will help you with this.

There are many different interesting sports to follow

The world is full of different types of sports, which means that there will be one that will entertain you. Even if you are only looking for Canadian sports, there are still many different fantastic possibilities. This obviously means that there are also plenty of different possibilities regarding betting as well.

 

Even though there are many exciting opportunities for betting, you need to only bet on sports that you are familiar with. If you know everything there is to know about the sport, it will be easier for you to place your bets. Therefore it’s a much safer way to bet. If you are interested in specifically betting on a game that you don’t know too well yet, you should do some research.

Choose a safe betting site

Not only do you need to bet in a safe way, but you also need to choose a safe betting site. There are many different options when it comes to different betting sites, so you have a lot of options to choose from.

 

If you don’t know how to recognize safe betting sites, you don’t have to worry. There are plenty of different guidebooks specifically about this online. You can also use different websites that introduce popular and safe betting sites for the players. This will make the search process much easier.

What is the best betting site for you?

As we said, there are many different betting sites. Not only do you need to choose a safe option, but you also need to find one that is the best for you. And how can you know which is the best for you?

 

Simply by thinking about what you are looking for. It doesn’t matter what type of betting site you choose, as long as it fits you and it’s safe, it’s a good choice.

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Spouse of gunman to testify at N.S. shooting hearings but won’t be cross-examined

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HALIFAX — The spouse of the gunman in the Nova Scotia mass shooting will testify mid-July before a public inquiry, but she won’t face direct questions from lawyers representing victims’ families.

Lisa Banfield, on the advice of her lawyers, had initially refused to speak under oath at the hearings into the 22 killings carried out by her spouse on April 18-19, 2020.

However, she changed her stance after a criminal charge laid against her for supplying ammunition to the killer was referred to restorative justice.

The public inquiry said today in a news release that due to Banfield’s status as a “survivor of the perpetrator’s violence,” only the inquiry’s lawyer will be asking her questions during her July 15 appearance.

Josh Bryson, a lawyer for the family of victims Peter and Joy Bond, says his clients are losing faith in the credibility of the inquiry.

Bryson says the families’ lawyers have been polite and respectful throughout the hearings, adding that it is frustrating to be denied the opportunity to pose direct questions to key witnesses.

“Cross-examination can make or break a witness’s evidence … You test the evidence in a meaningful and trauma-informed way,” he said in an interview today.

The inquiry has also refused to allow cross-examination of Staff Sgt. Brian Rehill and Staff Sgt. Andy O’Brien, who were the first RCMP managers overseeing the response to the shootings.

Emily Hill, senior commission counsel, says participatinglawyers can submit their questions in advance and can provide follow-up questions to the inquiry’s lawyer to ask during the single day set aside to hear Banfield.

Banfield’s evidence could provide further information about the killer’s personal history and state of mind and may also be key to the commission’s mandate to examine the “role of gender-based and intimate-partner violence” in the killer’s actions.

The inquiry has heard she was the last person with the gunman before he went on his rampage. The killer allegedly assaulted her and confined her in a car, but she managed to escape. She fled into the woods and hid before emerging the next morning and telling police the killer was driving a replica RCMP vehicle.

The RCMP have said from the outset that Banfield wasn’t aware of her spouse’s intentions when she provided him with ammunition, but they proceeded with charges alleging she, her brother and her brother-in-law had illegally transferred ammunition to the killer.

During a briefing this morning, the commission confirmed that senior RCMP officers, including Supt. Darren Campbell, Chief Supt. Chris Leather, assistant commissioner Lee Bergerman and Commissioner Brenda Lucki will testify in July and August — under oath and subject to cross-examination.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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