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Air Canada puts all Rouge flights on hiatus – CBC.ca

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Air Canada is putting all Rouge flights on hold as a result of new travel rules brought in by the government last week to scale back non-essential travel even more.

The rules targeted flights to sun destinations in the Caribbean, and most Air Canada flights to that area are operated by Rouge.

“As a result of our suspension of all flights to the Caribbean and Mexico at the request of the Canadian government, we are again pausing our Rouge operations effective Feb. 8 as these flights are primarily operated by Rouge,” the airline told CBC News in a statement late Wednesday.

The last Rouge flight is scheduled to run on Feb. 8. After that, there will be no further Rouge flights anywhere until further notice.

The airline said the decision will mean that about 80 people will be placed on temporary layoff.

“Rouge remains a part of Air Canada’s overall business strategy,” the airline said.

Prof. Fred Lazar of the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto said the move is just another body blow to an airline industry that can’t afford it.

“I’m not surprised, but disappointed,” he said of the news in an interview. 

“There is almost no place they can travel these days,” Lazar said, because government rules have systematically reined in every way the airlines have come up with to stay in business through the pandemic.

He said travel is being unfairly targeted as a way of deflecting attention from Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which is behind schedule and well behind the pace of other countries.

Running out of options

“There is no real logic to what they are doing,” he said. “They are doing it to cater to the vast majority of Canadians that have a holier than thou attitude toward travel.”

While the airline stressed that suspension is only temporary, Lazar said the industry is running out of options.

“The only hope is the European market opens up by the spring. Otherwise they’re out of operation pretty much for the rest of the year,” he said.

“I’m disappointed that they have to lose their jobs again because of the policies introduced by the government.”

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What's a derecho and why is it so destructive? The science behind this powerful storm – CBC News

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When Canadian tornado expert David Sills studied the forecast on Saturday morning, he never expected the line of storms headed for Windsor, Ont., would soon strengthen into Canada’s first derecho in decades, wreaking havoc across southern Ontario and Quebec. 

Sills, who is the executive director of the Northern Tornadoes Project at Western University, was outside doing yardwork at his London, Ont., home when he heard a rumble in the distance; he couldn’t believe the line of storms was still so active. 

“I’m thinking, ‘What? Why is this thing still going?'”

He went back inside to study the forecast, and that’s when the storm arrived at his doorstep.

“All of a sudden it hits and it’s just like a hurricane,” Sills said. “It’s just getting stronger and stronger … I watched as a tree came down on my neighbour’s roof across the street.”

That’s when he knew it wasn’t a normal thunderstorm. 

Powerful winds lift up dirt before the storm arrived in Saint-Bernard-de-Michaudville, Que. (Daniel Thomas/Radio-Canada)

An ominous wall of wind and rain

A derecho, pronounced deh-RAY-cho, is a long-lived, fast-moving thunderstorm that causes widespread wind damage. This particular storm system was fed by a heat dome over the eastern United States. 

According to Sills, the system formed south of Chicago on Saturday morning, then crossed the border into the Windsor area, where it started to cause damage. 

By the time it arrived in Kitchener, Sills said the thunderstorm was producing gusts of up to 132 km/h. 

Unlike the rotating winds in a hurricane or a tornado, a derecho’s winds are straight. That doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging; its winds can topple trees and lift up roofs. Another feature of a derecho is that unlike the slow building of a supercell thunderstorm, the business end of a derecho is at the front. 

That’s why when you witness a derecho, Sills said, it often looks like an ominous wall of wind and rain. 

“When it hits, usually the worst of it is within a couple minutes of it hitting,” he said. 

Part of a utility pole lies on a driveway, along with the roof of a hardware store that was lifted off by extreme winds during Saturday’s storm, in the community of Hammond in Clarence-Rockland, Ont. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Making that destructive wall of wind even worse, is that it can sometimes produce tornadoes as well.

“Really, it’s just a spectrum of wind that affects a long area,” Sills said. 

So far, field crews with the Northern Tornadoes Project have identified at least one EF2 tornado, which hit Uxbridge, Ont., with wind speeds of up to 195 km/h.

The team is investigating at least four other possible tornadoes in southern Ottawa, London, Ont., and Rawdon, Que.

Sills said he expects there could be even more.

Even if that’s the case, “the overwhelming majority of the damage was caused by straight line derecho winds,” said Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist Peter Kimbell.

He said both Ottawa and Toronto airports reported 120 km/h winds.

A rare event: Canada’s 1st derecho since 1999

The last string of derechos that hit Canada were in the 1990s, including one in 1999. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that storm cut a path through Thunder Bay and sparsely populated areas of northern Ontario before crossing into Quebec, where it killed one person, toppled trees, damaged buildings and overturned boats in the Montreal area.

“It is the widespread nature of a derecho that can really cause havoc in a city,” Sills said. 

What made Saturday’s storm especially unlucky was that several urban centres were directly in its path.

“This was an unusual event because it affected the most populated part of Canada,” Kimbell said.

The system formed south of Chicago on Saturday morning, and then it moved through Ontario, according to tornado expert David Sills. (Environment and Climate Change Canada/CBC News)

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a broadcast alert for a severe thunderstorm, setting off alarms on people’s cellphones in Ontario and Quebec. It was the first time a new feature was tested, allowing the forecaster to trigger an alert for extreme thunderstorms with high winds.

“That’s the first time they’ve done that, and it probably saved lives,” Sills said.

Still, the storm left a path of destruction in its wake, killing 10 people and leaving roughly 900,000 homes and businesses without power in Ontario and Quebec at its peak. It continued all the way to Maine, where there were also reports of damages.

Climate change could bring more derechos

Pinning down whether or not the rare event could be linked to climate change is difficult. Because derechos are so infrequent in Canada, Sills said it’s impossible to say whether they’re increasing or not. 

But, he said, the ingredients necessary to form a derecho “may come together more often” as a result of the effects of climate change.

A derecho happens when there’s a lot of heat and moisture available and they are often tied to heat domes. Sills said climate projections point to a warmer atmosphere that will creep northward, which means this is the kind of storm Canadians can expect to see more of in the future. 

Aerial images shot from a drone show the aftermath of Saturday’s storm in Uxbridge, Ont. (Sue Reid/CBC News)

There is always something to learn from extreme weather events, Sills said, and a key takeaway for him after this storm is that computer modelling needs to catch up.

“There wasn’t much in the way of any indication in the models of this big derecho coming through,” he said.

“The computer models we rely on to give us a heads up for these types of events, they’ve got a long way to go.” 

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One of two Alberta men accused of killing hunters to take witness stand

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EDMONTON — A man accused of killing two Metis hunters on a rural Alberta road is scheduled to testify today.

Anthony Bilodeau has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the deaths of Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal in March of 2020.

His lawyer, Brian Beresh, has told the jury trial that the 33-year-old plans to take the witness stand.

Bilodeau’s father, Roger Bilodeau, who is 58, has also pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

The Crown has argued that the father and son thought the hunters were thieves who had earlier been on their property, so they followed them on the highway and Anthony Bilodeau shot both men without justification.

Lawyers for the Bilodeaus say there was a confrontation, the men feared for their lives and they acted in self-defence.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Judge to decide if ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizer Tamara Lich heads back to jail

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OTTAWA — An Ottawa judge is expected to decide today whether “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich should return to jail.

Moiz Karimjee, a Crown prosecutor, says Lich violated one of her bail conditions by agreeing to accept an award for her leadership during the Ottawa protest, and should be sent back behind bars to wait for her trial.

Lich and fellow protest organizer Chris Barber are jointly accused of mischief, obstructing police, counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation.

She was released with a long list of conditions, including a ban from all social media and an order not to “support anything related to the Freedom Convoy.”

Lich’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, says her bail conditions should be loosened to allow her to come to Ontario and use social media.

The “Freedom Convoy” protest evolved into a weeks-long demonstration that gridlocked the streets of Ottawa.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

The Canadian Press

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