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Canada, China set aside differences to help COP15 nature talks succeed: Guilbeault



The international biodiversity framework reached Monday in Montreal was possible because Canada and China were able to set aside their diplomatic differences to co-lead the negotiations, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said as the summit came to a close.

And the agreement will bind the two countries together because it is named after the cities in China and Canada where it was negotiated. Though China officially hosted the COP15 event, the final negotiations were ultimately moved from Kunming to Montreal because of China’s COVID-19 policies.

The Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity agreement is being lauded by governments and nature experts as a historic deal meant to turn the tide on the devastating impacts humanity is having on wildlife and critical ecosystems.

The 196 parties to the agreement are now aiming to set aside 30 per cent of their land and marine territories as conservation areas by 2030, reduce the use of pesticides and harmful plastics, increase urban green spaces, ensure sustainable use of wild species and reduce overconsumption and food waste.


“We’ve achieved a Montreal moment for nature,” Guilbeault said Tuesday at the final press conference for COP15.

“The Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework is a major win for our planet and for all of humanity.”

Canada was asked to host the talks in Montreal because it’s the city that houses the UN biodiversity secretariat offices. While China remained the official host, Canada took on logistics and had a bigger influence over the ambition of the talks.

Before COP15 began, there were concerns about the joint hosting efforts of China and Canada given the ongoing tensions between their two governments.

The relationship took a nosedive in 2018 after Canada arrested a Chinese tech executive on behalf of the United States and China swiftly detained two Canadians in apparent retaliation. While more than a year has passed since all three were released, tensions haven’t eased much.

In the month leading into COP15, new allegations were made in Canada about Chinese government interference in Canadian elections, Canada enacted a new policy to force Chinese state-owned companies out of their ownership stakes in Canadian critical mineral operations and Canada issued a new Indo-Pacific foreign-relations strategy designed to counterbalance China’s influence in the region.

But during the last two weeks, Guilbeault and China’s environment minister, Huang Runqiu, shared a stage multiple times, expressed similar positions on the negotiations and thanked each other often and profusely for their support.

Asked about that level of co-operation Tuesday, the Chinese minister said he and Guilbeault had spoken at least weekly since the Montreal venue was selected in June, and often more than that.

“Canada has been really helpful,” Huang said through a translator.

Minutes after Huang lowered his gavel to declare the deal done overnight on Monday, Guilbeault congratulated him and thanked him for his solidarity.

“What we have accomplished, in a way, is a reflection of the journey that our two countries have gone through over the (last) months in deciding to set aside our differences, and to choose to work together on the things that unite us,” he said.

“I think this is reflective of what we have just adopted tonight, under your leadership, and I, on behalf of Canada and Canadians, I want to thank you for that.”

Guilbeault’s words were met with loud applause from the rest of the delegates in the final plenary.

China will remain in the president’s chair for the biodiversity convention over the next two years, and Huang said he will use that time to keep pushing for implementation.

The framework includes a call for every party to develop or revise a national biodiversity strategy and action plan to align with COP15’s targets, and regularly review their progress. It also allows for voluntary peer reviews, where one country takes a look at how another is holding up their end of the bargain.

As of now, about 17 per cent of global land territories and 10 per cent of marine areas are protected. Reaching the “30 by 30” goal would mean adding land equivalent to the entire size of Russia and marine areas almost as big as the entire Atlantic Ocean.

Developed countries also need to ramp up their financing for developing nations to help them meet the conservation targets, and a new dedicated biodiversity fund must be established within the existing Global Environment Fund.

Guilbeault said that in 2020, developed nations put about US$16 billion on the table toward biodiversity financing. He said, that will have to rise to US$20 billion by 2025 and to US$30 billion by 2030.

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


UPEI students offered $1,500 to leave residence during Canada Games –



Some UPEI students are earning extra money during the mid-semester break this year, simply by packing up and leaving campus. 

The 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society offered $1,500 each to students living in Andrew Hall if they give up their residence rooms to make space for arriving athletes. 

The students have to leave a few days before the break starts, on Feb. 17, and can return March 7. They also had to give up their meal plan for the duration.


Many athletes are staying at UPEI’s new 260-bed residence, built to meet accommodation requirements for the Games’ temporary athlete village.

But Wayne Carew, chair of the Games, said there are 120 more athletes coming than originally planned. 

A portrait of a man standing outside, wearing a jacket with the Canada Winter Games logo.
Organizers want the athletes all to stay on the UPEI campus so they can have ‘the experience of a lifetime,’ says Wayne Carew, chair of the 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“We ended up getting 44 rooms [in Andrew Hall] and that’s great,” said Carew.

He said the athletes staying at UPEI “are going to have a wild experience on the campus of the beautiful University of Prince Edward Island.” 

Carew said the costs of doing this are a “lot cheaper” than arranging accommodations elsewhere. But he said the main reason is to provide all athletes the same, “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

“Where they live, the food and the camaraderie and the experience of a lifetime: that’s what they’ll remember in 20 years’ time about P.E.I.,” he said.

‘Pretty good deal’

Some students were eager to take the organizers up on their offer.

“I’m going away to Florida during the two-week break anyways. So I was like, ‘May as well let them use my room then,'” said Hannah Somers. 

Portrait of a man in a toque and a grey sweater standing in front of a residence hall.
UPEI student Benji Dueck is moving in with a friend during the Canada Games so he can get the $1,500 offer. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“It’s $1,500. Pretty nice,” said Benji Dueck, who agreed to vacate the room with his roommate.  “We’re moving out, living with a friend in the city. So, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.”

As part of the agreement, the students had to clear out their rooms. Canada Games organizers made arrangements so students could store their belongings.

But not all students thought it was a good deal.

Portrait of a woman in a black down jacket standing in front of a residence hall.
UPEI student Maria de Torres won’t be leaving residence during the Canada Games. ‘It’s just too hard to pack up. It’s just too hectic,’ she says. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“I’m not giving up my spot in Andrew Hall for $1,500,” said Maria de Torres. “It’s just too hard to pack up. It’s just too hectic. And since I’m an international student, I got a lot [of things] right now.”

Shelby Dyment is also staying in Andrew Hall. Dyment said she and her roommate are working as residence life assistants during the mid-semester break and she’s also doing directed study, so she has to stay on campus.

“There’s a lot of people doing it. It’s just for our situation it just wasn’t working for what we were doing,” she said.

In a statement, UPEI said that enough students had accepted the offer to host all the athletes. 

It said the host society made all the arrangements with the students, including paying for their incentives and arranging for storage.

Organizers expect about 3,600 athletes, coaches and officials to participate in the Games. The event will run from Feb. 18 to March 5.

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Germany won't be a 'party to the war' amid tanks exports to Ukraine: Ambassador – CTV News



The German ambassador to Canada says Germany will not become “a party to the conflict” in Ukraine, despite it and several other countries announcing they’ll answer President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s pleas for tanks, possibly increasing the risk of Russian escalation.

Sabine Sparwasser said it’s a “real priority” for Germany to support Ukraine, but that it’s important to be in “lockstep” coordination with other allied countries.

“There is a clear line for Germany,” she told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an interview airing Sunday. “We do want not want to be a party to the conflict.”


“We want to support, we want to do everything we can, but we, and NATO, do not want to be a party to the war,” she also said. “That’s I think, the line we’re trying to follow.”

Defence Minister Anita Anand announced this week Canada will send four Leopard 2 battle tanks — with the possibility of more in the future — to Ukraine, along with Canadian Armed Forces members to train Ukrainian soldiers on how to use them.

Canada first needed permission from Berlin to re-export any of its 82 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. After a meeting of 50 defence leaders in Germany earlier this month, it was unclear whether Germany would give the green light.

But following what German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called “intensive consultations,” Germany announced on Jan. 25 it would send tanks to Ukraine, and the following day, Canada followed suit. It is now joining several other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Poland, which are sending several dozen tanks to Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week the tanks would allow Ukraine to “significantly strengthen their combat capabilities.”

“It demonstrates also the unit and the resolve of NATO allies in partners in providing support to Ukraine,” he said.

Meanwhile Sparwasser said Germany is “walking that fine line” of avoiding steps that could prompt escalation from Russia, while supporting Ukraine, and staying out of the war themselves.

“I think it’s very important to see that Germany is very determined and has a real priority in supporting Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and sovereignty,” Sparwasser said. “But we also put a high priority on going it together with our friends and allies.”

Sparwasser said despite warnings from Russia that sending tanks to Ukraine will cause an escalation, Germany is within international law — specifically Article 51 of the United Nations Charter — to provide support to Ukraine.

“Ukraine is under attack has the right to self defence, and other nations can come in and provide Ukraine with the means to defend itself,” Sparwasser said. “So in international law terms, this is a very clear cut case.”

She added that considering “Russia doesn’t respect international law,” it’s a more impactful deterrent to Russia, ahead of an expected spring offensive, to see several countries come together in support of Ukraine.

With files from the Associated Press

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COVID: Canada retaining Evusheld – CTV News



While Health Canada says it is “aware” of the U.S. decision to withdraw the emergency use of Evusheld, a drug by AstraZeneca used to help prevent COVID-19 infection— the agency is maintaining its approval, citing the differences in variant circulation between Canada and the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Jan. 26 that its emergency use authorization of the drug was pulled due to its inefficacy in treating “certain” COVID-19 variants.

The FDA stated in a release on its website that as the XBB.1.5. variant, nicknamed “Kraken”, is making up the majority of cases in the country, the use of Evusheld is “not expected to provide protection” and therefore not worth exposing the public to possible side effects of the drug, like allergic reactions.


In an email to, Health Canada said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pulled the drug as the main variant of concern in the U.S. is XBB.1.5.

“Dominant variants in the [U.S.] may be different from those circulating in Canada,” the federal agency said in an email. “The most recent epidemiological data in Canada (as of January 1, 2023) indicate that BA.5 (Omicron) subvariants continue to account for more than 89 per cent of reported cases.”

On Jan. 6 the FDA said in press release that certain variants are not neutralized by Evusheld and cautioned people who are exposed to XBB.1.5. On Jan. 26, the FDA then updated its website by saying it would be limiting the use of Evusheld.

“Evusheld is not currently authorized for use in the U.S. until further notice by the Agency,” the FDA website states.

On Jan. 17, Health Canada issued a “risk communication” on Evusheld, explaining how it may not be effective against certain Omicron subvariants when used as a preventative measure or treatment for COVID-19.

“Decisions regarding the use of EVUSHELD should take into consideration what is known about the characteristics of the circulating COVID-19 variants, including geographical prevalence and individual exposure,” Health Canada said in an email.

Health Canada says Evusheld does neutralize against Omicron subvariant BA.2, which according to the agency, is the dominant variant in many communities in Canada.

The drug was introduced for prevention measures specifically for people who have weaker immune systems and are unlikely to be protected by a COVID-19 vaccine. It can only be given to people 12 years and older.

“EVUSHELD is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended,” the agency’s website reads.

Health Canada says no drug, including Evusheld, is a substitute for vaccination.

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