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Another landslide north of Quebec City ‘inevitable,’ 187 forced from homes

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MONTREAL — The Quebec government was preparing Monday to extend a local state of emergency to a neighbourhood in Saguenay, Que., north of Quebec City, after almost 200 people were recently forced from their homes due to a threat of landslides.

About 187 residents had to relocate from the La Baie district after a landslide destroyed a house last week. Dominic Arseneau, a spokesperson for the city of Saguenay, said the city declared a local state of emergency Saturday night and planned to make an official request Monday evening to the province to extend it.

The evacuated area, Arseneau said in an interview, remains unstable and other landslides are “imminent and inevitable.”

“We know it’s going to happen, we just don’t know when,” he added.

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault told reporters Monday she was waiting on the official request from the city before signing the state of emergency order. She said the declaration would allow Saguenay to sidestep the usual paperwork and more easily requisition property, sign contracts and redirect traffic.

“We need a good reason to declare state of emergency, but it’s rare that a municipality will ask for it if they don’t need to,” Guilbault said.

Arseneau said emergency levees have been erected in the affected part of the city to avoid any more displacement and to stop debris and mud from sliding further into the area.

Several groups have offered to shelter displaced families, most of whom had a few hours to pack their belongings and didn’t know whether they would be able to return to their homes.

Marie-Chantale Tremblay says she called her mother, 57, and stepfather, 66, slightly before 10 p.m. on Saturday after seeing on social media that people were evacuating the La Baie neighbourhood.

“My mom didn’t believe it at first, but everything happened so quickly,” Tremblay said Monday in an interview. “We tried to take as much as we could … They left their home, the memories behind.”

Contact Nature, a non-profit that owns two campgrounds in La Baie, is one of the groups that have offered to provide free accommodation to the families affected by the landslides. Its CEO, Marc-André Galbrand, says that five families, including Tremblay’s, have contacted him.

“There are no words; we are devastated like everyone else by what is happening,” Galbrand said in an interview Monday. “We will do everything we can to make the transition as easy as possible.”

Meanwhile, residents were scheduled to meet on Monday with government officials about the different types of assistance programs available to people who are searching for emergency accommodation. Each person who was forced from their home will receive $20 a day for living expenses, the public security department said.

Quebec is also offering $260,000 to those who won’t be able to return to their homes, Guilbault said.

“The city of Saguenay suffered a lot in the past,” she said about the natural disasters that have hit the city. “Right now, people are very proactive because of it, but at one point, people are fed up. We will be there; we know it’s difficult.”

Didier Perret, a research scientist with Natural Resources Canada who has been studying landslides in the Saguenay area since 1996, says the region is known for its unstable clay soil. The city, Perret added, meets a lot of the criteria for landslides.

The affected district is located on a hill with a steep incline, and recent heavy rains have made the soil particularly unstable, he said.

Hundreds of residents of Saint-Jean-Vianney, Que., also in the Saguenay region, were left without homes in May 1971, after a major landslide swept through the community, killing 31 people. In 1996, the Chicoutimi River flooded, triggering landslides and causing damage that killed at least 10 people, forcing thousands from their homes.

“Those events are still remembered,” Perret said. “When landslides happen, it brings back bad memories.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 20, 2022.

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

 

Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press

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Canada first to sign off on Finland, Sweden joining NATO – CTV News

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Canada became the first country to ratify Finland and Sweden’s accession protocols to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday.

The move follows NATO leaders officially inviting the two nations to join the alliance during a summit in Madrid last week, and brings the two countries a step closer to becoming full NATO members.

“Canada has full confidence in Finland and Sweden’s ability to integrate quickly and effectively into NATO and contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“Their membership will make NATO stronger and we call on all NATO members to move swiftly to complete their ratification processes to limit opportunities for interference by adversaries.”

According to The Associated Press, all 30 NATO allies signed off on the accession protocols on Tuesday, sending the membership bids to each nation for legislative approval. Both Canada and Denmark were quick to turn around their ratification documents.

“Thank You Canada! Canada is the first country to deliver its instrument of ratification to the United States Department of State, the depository of the North Atlantic Treaty!” tweeted Sweden’s Ambassador to Canada Urban Ahlin.

In Canada, the federal government made moves domestically to move through the ratification quickly, Trudeau said. This included issuing orders-in-council authorizing Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly to “take the actions necessary to ratify, on behalf of Canada.”

Ahead of Parliament adjourning for the summer, the House of Commons debated and voted on a motion signalling their support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

In May, the House Public Safety and National Security Committee adopted a motion expressing “strong support” for the two Scandanavian countries’ membership in the alliance. The motion also called on all NATO members to approve their applications as quickly as possible.

A debate was held on this motion on June 1, and it passed unanimously when put to a vote the following day.

“Russia’s war in Ukraine has actualized something that was once only theoretical. An authoritarian state led by an autocrat has attacked a democracy: It has demonstrated that it is willing and able to attack a democracy. It has made clear that democracies that stand alone and are not part of military alliances are most vulnerable,” said Conservative MP and foreign affairs critic Michael Chong during the House debate. “That is why it has become necessary to bring both Sweden and Finland into the NATO alliance. This is an urgent matter.”

Also taking part in the debate, NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said she supports Finland and Sweden doing all they can to prevent their countries from being threatened further by Russia.

“Prior to the further invasion of Ukraine, support for NATO membership was around 20 to 30 per cent in Sweden and Finland. Now, 76 per cent of Finnish people support joining NATO. Very simply, Vladimir Putin and the aggression of the Russian Federation are responsible for escalating tensions in the region and leading Sweden and Finland to seek NATO membership,” McPherson said.

With NATO member countries having different processes for completing ratification, it could be some time still before the two nations formally become a part of the longstanding intergovernmental military alliance.

With files from Senior Political Correspondent for CTV News Channel Mike Le Couteur

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Canada Day Ottawa: 12 arrested, 50 charges laid – CTV News Ottawa

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Ottawa police say 50 criminal charges were laid over the Canada Day long weekend and 12 people were arrested.

Last Friday marked the first Canada Day in Ottawa with major in-person events since 2019. Thousands of tourists and residents came downtown to celebrate the holiday. In the mix were several hundred protesters associated with the “Freedom Convoy” movement that paralyzed downtown Ottawa in February.

Ottawa police were out in force starting June 29 with the implementation of the downtown vehicle control zone, which was meant to prevent another vehicle-based occupation of the city.

Police said they arrested a dozen people in downtown Ottawa between June 29 and July 3, including people who were not involved in Canada Day events or protests. On top of the 50 criminal charges, four charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act were also laid.

One man was arrested on Parliament Hill June 29 for causing a disturbance. He was taken back to Toronto on an outstanding warrant.

On June 30, police charged one person with breach of release orders and Highway Traffic Act offences after a traffic stop on Highway 417 at Anderson Road.

Later that day, three people were arrested following an incident at the National War Memorial in which a police officer was allegedly choked. Charges include assaulting police, resisting arrest, causing a disturbance, and assault by choking. This incident came shortly after Canadian soldier James Topp, who is facing a court martial for criticizing the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rules in uniform, completed his cross-country walk protesting vaccine mandates. Hundreds of people had gathered at the War Memorial to hear Topp speak.

On Canada Day, one man was arrested and charged for allegedly pulling a knife on RCMP officers near LeBreton Flats after officers broke up a fight. Two more people were arrested and face several assault charges after an attack in the ByWard Market.

On July 2, police arrested two people in a vehicle and seized a handgun. Several gun and drug charges were laid. Patrol officers also seized a gun in Sandy Hill that afternoon and charged a man with drug and gun offences.

On July 3, police arrested a woman for public intoxication who allegedly spit in an officer’s face. She now also faces an assault charge.

Ottawa police did not name any of the accused.

Police are also investigating paint on public property in Strathcona Park and on Wellington Street. Protesters painted messages about convoy organizers Pat King and Tamara Lich on Wellington Street on Canada Day. Police also said earlier they laid 19 impaired driving charges over the long weekend.

Ottawa Bylaw towed 121 vehicles from the vehicle control zone between June 29 and July 3 and issued 513 parking tickets. 

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Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly to take part in G20 despite Russia’s presence

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OTTAWA — Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly will take part in a G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, this week, even though Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is also expected to attend.

In March, Joly joined many others in walking out of a United Nations meeting in Geneva when Lavrov, whom Canada had brought sanctions against days earlier, began speaking.

In April, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland joined a walkout of a G20 meeting for finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In May, International Trade Minister Mary Ng joined her counterparts from the United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand in leaving an APEC meeting in Bangkok when the Russian representative began to speak.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would take part in the G20 leaders’ meeting in November, even if President Vladimir Putin goes too, saying it is important to counteract the voice that Russia will have at that table.

Joly, who recently said it was unacceptable for a Canadian official to attend a reception hosted by the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, is expected to join other foreign ministers at the G20 meeting in opposing the ongoing war in Ukraine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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