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Canada sending up to 200 troops to support evacuation of civilians in Sudan

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Canada will deploy roughly 200 troops to help coordinate the evacuation of civilians from war-torn Sudan, Defence Minister Anita Anand confirmed Wednesday.

Ahead of question period in the House of Commons, Anand told a hastily assembled group of reporters that two C-130J Hercules transports are in east Africa preparing for flights into Khartoum “as soon as conditions on the ground permit.”

Global Affairs Canada says that up to 1,800 Canadians are trapped between the warring parties in Sudan and roughly 700 of them have indicated they want out.

Defence sources tell CBC News that a company of infantry soldiers from Camp Petawawa, Ont. is expected to be deployed to provide force protection and help coordinate the evacuation. An element of the 1st Canadian Division headquarters has also been sent to provide additional oversight and coordination.

Those troops will operate out of Jordan, said a senior federal official who spoke on background at a technical briefing in Ottawa.

Anand did not give a precise breakdown of the military contingent and it’s not clear whether the numbers she presented include the air detachment.

Anand also did not confirm the locations of the aircraft or where the troops are headed. Military flight tracker Steffan Watkins has data that shows the transport planes were last reported in the east African country of Djibouti.

Federal officials, speaking on background Wednesday, confirmed the presence of the aircraft in Dijibouti and said they’re accompanied by a small contingent of Canada’s special operations force.

Federal officials also said the Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal and the supply vessel MV Asterix are in the region and have moved into position with allied warships off the port of Sudan in anticipation of a possible seaborne evacuation.

Canadian officials said they’re focused on the air evacuation route because many evacuees would have to travel more than 800 kilometres to reach the port. The officials noted that a UN convoy had to pass through 22 checkpoints “through very dangerous terrain” to reach the port.

Anand said the movement of Canadian personnel and equipment is already underway.

“The Canadian Armed Forces is providing military assistance for Canada’s effort to evacuate Canadian eligible persons from Sudan. Canadian Armed Forces personnel and assets have been deployed to the region and are planning for evacuation operations in what remains a hostile and volatile security environment,” she told reporters.

A close up profile photograph of Minister of National Defence Anita Anand.
Defence Minister Anita Anand says two C-130J aircraft are waiting for conditions on the ground to improve before beginning the evacuation. (The Canadian Press/Spencer Colby)

The minister would not say when actual evacuation operations will begin. Much seems to depend on how long the ceasefire between Sudan’s warring factions lasts.

“The conditions on the ground have to be right for Canadians to be evacuated via the Canadian aircraft,” Anand said, adding that the C-130s are ready to start taking passengers once conditions on the ground improve.

Anand said that means it has to be safe for the aircraft to land, and safe for Canadian evacuees to get to the military airport in Khartoum that has been used by other allied countries for their evacuations.

A federal official, speaking on background, said consular services are still being provided to Canadians through an emergency centre in Ottawa. They said they have been reaching out to people on the ground who have registered with the government.

The official stressed that there is “no guarantee of future evacuation plans past this week.”

The Sudanese Canadian Community Association has asked Ottawa for special immigration measures that would open the door to family members who are not Canadian citizens. They want something similar to what was offered to Afghans and Ukrainians who fled their countries.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly holds a press conference in Toronto, Wednesday, January 18, 2023.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says the federal government is not ruling out special immigration measures for family members of Sudanese-Canadians. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said it’s a possibility.

“All this is definitely something that the minister of immigration is considering right now, and so this is something that we will be looking at and working on,” Joly said early Wednesday.

Federal officials said that those on the evacuation flights out of Sudan itself will not be charged for the flights — but once they’re in a third country, evacuees maybe asked to shoulder the cost of flying back to Canada.

“If Canadians cannot afford … travel, they can discuss this with consular staff,” said a federal official. “The objective is to get people to a third country, then assessed on a case-by-case basis in terms of means.”

 

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Bissell Recalls 3.3 Million Steam Cleaners Due to Burn Hazard

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NEW YORK — Bissell is recalling approximately 3.3 million “Steam Shot Handheld Steam Cleaners” across North America due to a burn hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada issued notices on Thursday detailing the risk, which has led to over 150 reported injuries.

The recall affects select models of the Bissell-branded steam cleaners, which can spew hot water or steam while in use or heating up. This malfunction poses a burn risk to users. Bissell has received 183 reports of hot water or steam expelling from the devices, including 157 minor burn injuries. Of these, 145 injuries occurred in the U.S. and 12 in Canada as of June 4, according to Health Canada.

Consumers are advised to immediately stop using the recalled steam cleaners. They should contact Bissell for either a refund or store credit. Impacted customers can choose between $60 (CA$82) in store credit or a $40 (CA$55) refund for each affected unit. Detailed instructions for identifying the recalled models, cutting the product cord, and uploading photos are available on Bissell’s website.

Bissell emphasized that “safety is our top priority,” and the company opted for a voluntary recall “out of an abundance of caution.”

The affected steam cleaners, manufactured in China, were sold at major retailers such as Target and Walmart, as well as online platforms including Bissell’s website and Amazon, from August 2008 through May 2024. About 3.2 million units were purchased in the U.S. and nearly 355,000 in Canada.

For more information on the recall and to register for a refund or store credit, consumers can visit Bissell’s website.

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Court Ruling on CRA Audit Condones Government Overreach, Says Leading Muslim Charity

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The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) has expressed strong disapproval of a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision, claiming it allows the federal government to violate Charter rights with impunity. The court’s decision upheld a ruling that permits the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to continue its audit of MAC, a process the charity alleges is tainted by systemic bias and Islamophobia.

MAC, an organization that promotes community service, education, and youth empowerment, serves over 150,000 Canadians through its mosques, schools, and community centers. The association argues that the CRA’s audit infringes on their Charter rights, specifically the guarantees of equality, freedom of religion, expression, and association.

The association initially sought to halt the audit through the Ontario Superior Court, arguing that the audit process was fundamentally biased. However, Superior Court Justice Markus Koehnen rejected their request last year, stating it was premature to intervene in the ongoing federal review. Koehnen acknowledged the validity of many of MAC’s arguments but emphasized that court involvement was inappropriate while the audit process was still active.

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently upheld Justice Koehnen’s decision, agreeing that the challenge was premature. The panel of judges found no error in the previous ruling, emphasizing the necessity of allowing the CRA’s internal processes to conclude before judicial intervention.

MAC’s representative, Sharaf Sharafeldin, criticized the decision, stating that the “prematurity principle” imposes significant legal and administrative burdens on charities. These costs, according to Sharafeldin, lead to financial hardship, reduced programs, and compromised charitable work, preventing effective challenges to Charter violations by the time the audit is completed.

In a statement, MAC highlighted that the decision disproportionately harms visible minorities and disadvantaged communities, who already suffer from systemic discrimination by government agencies.

The federal government has argued that the CRA’s selection of MAC for audit and subsequent review did not infringe upon Charter rights. The audit process includes potential internal appeals within the CRA, appeals to the Tax Court of Canada in the event of financial penalties, and to the Federal Court of Appeal if charitable status is revoked.

This ruling underscores the tension between government oversight and the protection of Charter rights, particularly for minority and disadvantaged communities. The outcome of this case could set a significant precedent for how charitable organizations can challenge perceived systemic bias and government overreach in Canada.

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Canada Post to honour acclaimed director Norman Jewison with commemorative stamp

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Canada Post is set to honour the legacy of Toronto-born filmmaker Norman Jewison with a commemorative stamp.

Jewison, best known for directing Academy Award-winning films “In the Heat of The Night,” “Moonstruck” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” is considered one of Hollywood’s most prolific filmmakers.

Throughout his career, Jewison has worked on more than 40 television and film productions.

He was nominated for the Academy Award for best director three times and received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his body of work in 1999.

Jewison died at the age of 97 at his home in Malibu, Calif., in January.

Canada Post will unveil Jewison’s stamp at an event in Toronto on July 24.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 18, 2024

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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