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Canada condemns removal of pro-democracy Hong Kong legislators – CBC.ca

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Canada’s top diplomat says China is flouting its international obligations with its latest move to quash dissent in Hong Kong. 

Earlier this week, China’s central government granted Hong Kong’s government special authority to remove members of its Legislative Council who are deemed insufficiently loyal to Beijing because of their support for Hong Kong independence or their refusal to recognize China’s sovereignty over the region.

Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government, led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, promptly used the new powers to disqualify four pro-democracy legislators who had previously called for foreign governments to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and China.

In response to the removal of their colleagues, Hong Kong’s 15 remaining pro-democracy lawmakers said they would resign in protest, effectively giving pro-Beijing forces free reign in the city’s legislature.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the removal of the four democratically elected legislators further erodes the autonomy promised to the former British colony when it was handed back to Beijing in 1997.

“This decision further narrows Hong Kong’s autonomy and the space for freedom of expression and public participation in governance in Hong Kong,” Champagne said in a written statement on Wednesday.

“This action clearly demonstrates a concerning disregard for Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the high degree of autonomy promised for Hong Kong under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework.”

Four Hong Kong lawmakers, from left, Dennis Kwok, Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung, confirmed they were disqualified from serving in the city’s Legislative Council at a news conference Wednesday. (Vincent Yu/The Associated Press)

Under the Sino-British declaration — signed in 1984 — China promised to allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years in exchange for reassuming control of the territory in 1997. But Beijing has in recent months moved to clamp down on opposition voices in Hong Kong with the imposition of a national security law, after months of anti-government protests last year rocked the city.

‘Further assault’ on freedoms

Champagne called China’s move a “further assault” on Hong Kong’s freedoms.

“We are deeply disappointed that China has chosen to break its international obligations,” said Champagne.

“Canada will continue to stand with the people of Hong Kong.”

The issue of Hong Kong’s autonomy has proven to be a thorn in an already chilled relationship between Canada and China. Relations between the two countries have worsened since Canada arrested Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in December 2017 on a U.S. extradition warrant. China arrested two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, shortly after Meng’s arrest.

The two Michaels have now spent over 700 days in prison while Meng fights her extradition in a B.C. court and lives under house arrest in Vancouver.

Canada suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in July in response to the passage of the new national security law — which gave Beijing sweeping powers to crack down on dissent amid anti-government protests and other activities it considers the work of hostile foreign powers. 

The Canadian government also amended its export controls to treat sensitive goods, including military equipment, being exported to Hong Kong as if they were being sent to mainland China. Previously, Hong Kong was given preferential status.

Canada has also quietly started approving asylum claims for families seeking to flee persecution in Hong Kong, something the Chinese ambassador to Canada warned against last month.

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Canadians now owe more than $2 trillion, Equifax says – CBC.ca

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Consumer demand for credit intensified in the third quarter, driven chiefly by increases in mortgage balances and new auto loans, according to data released Monday by credit reporting agency Equifax.

Mortgage balances and new auto loans were up 6.6 per cent and 11.7 per cent year over year, respectively, according to Equifax. Overall average consumer debt increased 3.3 per cent compared with the third quarter of last year.

Rebecca Oakes, assistant vice-president of advanced analytics at Equifax Canada, said in an interview that growth in mortgages last quarter was especially high, with the largest increase among people under 35. That trend comes even as economic fallout from the pandemic and associated lockdown measures hit young people especially hard.

“In terms of new mortgages, that could be refinancing, or it could be brand-new, first-time home buyers or it could be people moving house,” Oakes said. “That was actually the highest value that we’ve seen ever.”

The increased demand for auto loans in the third quarter could have been a result of pent-up demand from people who had to wait to buy cars later in the year, Oakes said.

Total debt $2 trillion

The figures in Equifax’s report are drawn from banks and other lenders that provide data to the credit rating agency.

Equifax pegged total consumer debt at $2.04 trillion, while Statistics Canada reported in June that household debt had reached $2.3 trillion, with $1.77 in debt for every dollar of household disposable income.

More than three million consumers have chosen to use payment deferral programs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Equifax. Since the start of this year, some banks have offered consumers the option to suspend their loan payments for several months, in recognition of the financial strain the pandemic has created for many households.

However, under the payment deferral programs, interest continues to accrue during the months for which payments are suspended.

The percentage of balances where credit users have missed three or more payments was at its lowest level since 2014, with deferral programs likely masking the true delinquency rates, according to Oakes.

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Canadians offer mixed confidence in government's vaccine rollout: Nanos survey – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Just one in six Canadians are confident in the federal government’s rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine once one becomes available, according to the latest data from Nanos Research.

The survey, commissioned by CTV News and released on Monday, asked 1,096 Canadians how confident they are that the government has a “a well organized plan to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to Canadians as quickly as possible” and found that just 16 per cent of respondents said they are “confident,” while another 40 per cent said they are “somewhat confident.”

“It’s very early in this process and I think until we actually see more details and there’s more meat on the bone, I expect (the vaccine rollout is) still going to be a bit of a question mark for many Canadians,” Nik Nanos, the chair of Nanos Research, told CTV’s Power Play.

When broken down regionally, respondents from Quebec offered the most confidence, with 73 per cent of respondents indicating that they are either confident or somewhat confident, while respondents in the Prairies had the least confidence, with 29 per cent indicating they are “not confident” in the vaccine rollout.

On Monday, Moderna Inc. said its testing shows that their COVID-19 vaccine is 94 per cent effective. The company is currently under a “rolling review” process with Health Canada, but has already asked for a emergency use approval in the United States and Europe.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead Canada’s vaccine rollout, with the goal of immunizing half of Canadians by September 2021.

Nanos says that substantial details in the fiscal update about the vaccine rollout will go a long way towards curbing any skepticism from Canadians.

“Anything said relating to the funding of vaccines, the logistics of vaccines, the distribution, the role that the federal government’s going to take working with provinces, is probably going to be very well met, but if they don’t talk about those things, it’s just going to create a greater level uncertainty about the future,” he said.

With files from The Associated Press

METHODOLOGY

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land-and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,096 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between November 26th and 29th, 2020 as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The sample included both land-and cell-lines across Canada. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Canada.

Individuals were randomly called using random digit dialing with a maximum of five call backs.

The margin of error for this survey is ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

This study was commissioned by CTV News and the research was conducted by Nanos Research.

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Canadians now owe more than $2 trillion, Equifax says – CBC.ca

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Consumer demand for credit intensified in the third quarter, driven chiefly by increases in mortgage balances and new auto loans, according to data released Monday by credit reporting agency Equifax.

Mortgage balances and new auto loans were up 6.6 per cent and 11.7 per cent year over year, respectively, according to Equifax. Overall average consumer debt increased 3.3 per cent compared with the third quarter of last year.

Rebecca Oakes, assistant vice-president of advanced analytics at Equifax Canada, said in an interview that growth in mortgages last quarter was especially high, with the largest increase among people under 35. That trend comes even as economic fallout from the pandemic and associated lockdown measures hit young people especially hard.

“In terms of new mortgages, that could be refinancing, or it could be brand-new, first-time home buyers or it could be people moving house,” Oakes said. “That was actually the highest value that we’ve seen ever.”

The increased demand for auto loans in the third quarter could have been a result of pent-up demand from people who had to wait to buy cars later in the year, Oakes said.

Total debt $2 trillion

The figures in Equifax’s report are drawn from banks and other lenders that provide data to the credit rating agency.

Equifax pegged total consumer debt at $2.04 trillion, while Statistics Canada reported in June that household debt had reached $2.3 trillion, with $1.77 in debt for every dollar of household disposable income.

More than three million consumers have chosen to use payment deferral programs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Equifax. Since the start of this year, some banks have offered consumers the option to suspend their loan payments for several months, in recognition of the financial strain the pandemic has created for many households.

However, under the payment deferral programs, interest continues to accrue during the months for which payments are suspended.

The percentage of balances where credit users have missed three or more payments was at its lowest level since 2014, with deferral programs likely masking the true delinquency rates, according to Oakes.

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