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Canada surpasses 15000 deaths related to COVID-19

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Canada surpassed 15,000 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, and at least one infectious disease expert says the somber milestone should be a wake-up call to anyone who thinks the dangers of the disease are overhyped.

Quebec reported 37 deaths Monday, pushing Canada past 15,000. Health officials in that province said seven deaths took place in the last 24 hours, 27 occurred between Dec. 21 and Dec. 26, and three were from unspecified dates.

Alberta followed later in the day, announcing that 112 people died over the course of the holidays between Dec. 23 and Dec. 27, with a high of 30 deaths on Dec. 23 and a low of 17 on Christmas.

More than 1,000 people have now died in Alberta since the pandemic began.

“This tragic milestone is more than a number or statistic,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement.

“It represents more than 1,000 mothers, wives, fathers, husbands — empty spaces around the table that can never be filled. Each one means that there is a family that is grieving, a friend who has lost someone they loved, a child who lost their parent, a partner who lost their true love.”

Reaching more than 15,000 deaths in the nine months since the pandemic began highlights just how serious COVID-19 is, said Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the infectious diseases division at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

Canada had earlier surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths on Oct. 27 and passed the 5,000 mark on May 12.

“We are seeing exactly what’s being seen around the world, which is that there are substantially large numbers of deaths from this virus. It’s not the flu,” Evans said in an interview on Monday.

“I would hope that it would reinforce to these people who are saying that it’s a big hype,” he said. “It’s not a hype. People are dying from this. This is a deadly disease.”

Quebec also reported 2,265 new cases of COVID-19 — the second day in a row the province recorded more than 2,200 new infections.

“The situation is critical in hospitals,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted Monday, urging Quebecers to respect a provincewide lockdown over the holiday period.

The province has 1,124 COVID-19 hospitalizations, including 150 people in intensive care, and officials warned that many hospitals were full.

Manitoba reported 107 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and nine additional deaths linked to the virus, increasing the provincial total to 654 deaths since the pandemic began.

Nunavut reported one new infection in Whale Cove, a community that went into lockdown on Christmas Eve. The territory now has nine active cases of COVID-19.

In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, while New Brunswick said one new infection was detected in the Fredericton area.

After a break in reporting, authorities in Nova Scotia also said they had identified 13 new cases of COVID-19 since Dec. 25. The new infections are all linked to close contact with a previous case or to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

Officials in N.L. said one of the new infections related to international travel, while the other is a man who returned from working in Alberta.

The province had 19 active cases of COVID-19 with one person in hospital.

New Brunswick had 33 active cases, including three hospitalizations.

“Non-essential travel is very risky right now,” New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, said in a statement.

“We are seeing more travel-related cases and transmission to household members when self-isolation measures are not strictly adhered to,” Russell said, calling on people who need to self-isolate to do so for the full 14 days as per public health directives.

Ontario was not reporting new COVID-19 case numbers on Monday after registering 2,005 new infections on Sunday, as well as 18 more deaths.

Meanwhile on Monday, Alberta became the third province in Canada to report a case of a more contagious strain of the virus.

Provincial medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that person started showing symptoms after returning from the United Kingdom, where the variant was first seen, and did everything correctly in terms of isolating upon their return.

Cases of the new variant have also been detected in the Toronto area, Ottawa and on Vancouver Island in B.C.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said while early data suggests the new variant may be more transmissible, there is no evidence the variant causes more severe symptoms or impacts vaccine effectiveness.

B.C. didn’t update its numbers Monday, but three regional health authorities reported new outbreaks in assisted-living and long-term care facilities.

— With files from Denise Paglinawan in Toronto, Sarah Smellie in St. John’s and Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2020.

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Saint John police officers ordered not to wear thin blue line patches – CBC.ca

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The Saint John Police Force has ordered its officers to stop wearing thin blue line patches following social media posts of officers sporting the controversial patch. 

Tweets posted on Thursday show Saint John police officers wearing the patches at King’s Square on July 3, while present at a protest being held by members of the community.

The patch has acquired various connotations, with some supporters saying wearing the patch is a sign of solidarity between officers while critics say it fosters a dangerous attitude of opposition between police officers and civilians.  

Community members say the protest on July 3 was about bringing awareness to the damage being done by colonialism, following ongoing news of the graves of Indigenous children being found at the sites of former residential schools.

It also followed the vandalization of the statue of Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley in the square. 

Saint John police declined an interview request and instead directed CBC News to its Twitter post

The post states that uniform standards have been discussed with officers.

“[The Saint John Police Force] has uniform standards that only allow issued items on the uniform — the thin blue line patch is not issued by the [the Saint John Police Force] thus is not part of our uniform and not authorized to wear,” the post said.

Cheryl Johnson is a Saint John resident who was at the protest and took the photos. She was alerted by a friend later in the month, who upon closer inspection, noticed some officers wearing the patches. 

“It was horrifying to discover that,” said Johnson in an interview. 

Johnson said she considered informing Saint John police about the patches, but had concerns that the matter would be neglected, so she posted the photos to social media. 

“I find that through Twitter, it can be very effective in quickly getting the message across and I was also interested to see what other folks thought about it,” said Johnson.

“We know that in policing, there is a history of violence and abuse, assault, so trying to publicly double down on the concept of us versus them makes me feel incredibly unsafe.”

Police forces across the country have distanced themselves from the patch.

The RCMP advised its officers to stop wearing the patches last fall, citing it was not an approved symbol or officially part of the uniform.

Ottawa police have also been banned from wearing the patches, while Montreal and Toronto police having been spotted wearing the patches this year.

Saint John Coun. David Hickey said he was disappointed to learn city police officers were wearing the patches. 

“What it comes down to is promoting that us versus them mentality and rhetoric that is becoming apparent in policing and I don’t want to see that,” said  Hickey.

David Hickey is the ward 3 city councilor for Saint John and the chair of the public safety committee. (David Hickey/Facebook)

He added that city officials have a duty to ensure Saint John residents feel comfortable interacting with their police department, but a shared level of respect needs to be achieved.

The wearing of thin blue line patches is facing additional scrutiny following protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and growing criticism toward the Blue Lives Matter counter movement, which began in the United States purporting the importance of valuing police officers’ lives. 

El Jones is an assistant professor of political studies at Mount Saint Vincent University and a community activist based in Halifax. 

Jones said the patches migrated from the United States, with the messaging behind the thin blue line being that the police are the only thing standing between order and chaos.

“You see a kind of imagining of society that’s quite dystopian…. You’re always in danger and the only thing keeping you safe is policing,” she said in an interview.

El Jones is an assistant professor of political studies at Mount Saint Vincent University and a community activist based in Halifax.  (Submitted by El Jones)

When looking at things through a lens of supposed order and chaos, Jones said often times policing punishes those who are already marginalized by society.

One of the most troubling connotations behind the patches, Jones noted, is them being worn in solidarity with officers accused of police brutality. 

“Particularly to Black people, it is quite frightening because it’s putting on your uniform, a sign of my solidarity with my fellow officers, and not with the idea of law and order,” said Jones.

The patch has also served as conduit for racist ideology, with authorities acknowledging that white nationalist groups have taken an interest in adopting the patch as a symbol.

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RCMP spied on Canadian nationalist committee over communist concerns – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada’s spy service closely monitored the burgeoning nationalist movement in the 1960s and ’70s, poring over pamphlets, collecting reports from confidential sources and warily watching for signs of Communist infiltration, once-secret records reveal.

The RCMP’s security branch, responsible for sniffing out subversives at the time, quietly tracked the rise of the Committee for an Independent Canada, seeing it as ripe for “exploitation or manipulation” by radicals.

The committee, which attracted numerous political and cultural luminaries, pushed for greater Canadian control of the industrial, media and foreign policy spheres in an era of profound American dominance.

The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to obtain the RCMP’s four-volume, 538-page dossier on the committee as well as a file on a forerunner organization from Library and Archives Canada. Some passages, though more than 60 years old, were withheld from release.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which assumed counter-subversion duties from the RCMP in 1984, transferred the records to the National Archives, given their historical significance.

The Mounties’ interest was piqued in the spring of 1960 when author Farley Mowat gathered neighbours at his home in Palgrave, Ont., to form what would soon become the Committee for Canadian Independence.

Mowat was instantly spurred into action upon reading journalist James Minifie’s book “Peacemaker or Powder-Monkey: Canada’s Role in a Revolutionary World,” rattled by its concerns about the erosion of Canadian sovereignty.

The fledgling committee advocated distancing Canada from western military alliances and reasserting the country’s control over its airspace and territorial waters.

In August 1960, as the RCMP opened a file on the committee, a sergeant surmised the Communist party “must certainly be joyous” at the development given it had long espoused similar ideas. However, the Mounties had uncovered no information to suggest the group was “Communist inspired.”

While Mowat’s effort faded from the public conversation, hand-wringing about Canadian independence persisted.

Early in 1970, Toronto Daily Star editor Peter C. Newman, former Liberal cabinet minister Walter Gordon and economist Abe Rotstein hatched plans for the Committee for an Independent Canada during a meeting at Toronto’s King Edward Hotel.

A statement of purpose published by the committee that September said it realized the benefits of Canada being neighbour to the most powerful nation in the world and rejected the idea of closing the taps of needed foreign capital.

“But our land won’t be our own much longer if we allow it to continue to be sold out to foreign owners. Not if we allow another culture to dominate our information media. Not if we allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of another country’s foreign policy.”

A month later an RCMP corporal in the security service’s Toronto detachment warned in a two-page memo the publicity the committee had garnered made it a “vulnerable target for subversive penetration.”

Gordon, a longtime economic nationalist, was honorary chairman of the committee, with publisher Jack McClelland and Claude Ryan, director of influential Montreal newspaper Le Devoir, serving as co-chairmen.

The politically non-partisan organization’s steering committee included dozens of notable members of the Canadian intelligentsia, including Mowat and fellow author Pierre Berton, publisher Mel Hurtig, poet Al Purdy, Chatelaine magazine editor Doris Anderson, lawyers Eddie Goodman and Judy LaMarsh (who had also been a Liberal cabinet minister), union activist and longtime NDP stalwart Eamon Park, and Flora MacDonald, shortly before she became a Progressive Conservative MP.

A source whose name is blacked out of a March 1971 memo provided the RCMP with committee literature including a letter from student co-ordinators Gus Abols and Michael Adams.

“The support of young Canadians is essential, because only through our united action will the government and the Canadian public generally realize the seriousness of our country’s situation and the extent of our commitment to the preservation of Canada,” the letter said.

Adams recalls being a graduate student the University of Toronto, strolling to class, when Goodman, whom he knew from Conservative political circles, pulled over his car and told the young man to jump in because “we’re going to start up something that I think you’d be interested in.”

Adams, who would go on to build Environics Research Group into a leading pollster, has fond memories of accompanying Gordon on a committee trip to London, Ont., to promote the nationalist cause to students.

As the “young guy” at committee meetings, Adams revelled in the impressive company.

“It was a wonderful group,” he said. “They were incredibly nurturing and helpful.”

For their part, however, RCMP security officers didn’t seem to know what to make of the committee.

An August 1971 memo to divisions from RCMP headquarters said the committee had taken a moderate, middle class-oriented stance rather than a radical approach. Elements of the New Left and the Communist party had shown interest in the committee, but the RCMP was not aware of “any significant degree of influence or penetration.”

Still, the Mounties would continue to eye the committee because its aims and programs “provide a potential for exploitation or manipulation by groups or individuals of a subversive nature.”

On the contrary, the committee was formed to keep the nationalist movement from falling into the hands of the Communists and the far left represented by the NDP’s Waffle initiative, said Stephen Azzi, a professor of political management at Carleton University in Ottawa.

“The RCMP intelligence unit appeared to be staffed by people with little knowledge, with scant research skills and with deep paranoia,” Azzi said in an interview.

The Mounties studiously monitored the committee through the 1970s, clipping news items and filing memos. A confidential source advised the RCMP of plans for the group’s Ottawa demonstration in January 1975, suggesting they would muster “25-30 people instead of the 60 previously planned.”

By this point, the committee was no longer a potent force in Canadian public life in any event, Azzi sai

Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal prime minister of the day, was openly skeptical of the nationalist agenda but had adroitly harnessed support for the movement to shore up electoral support, particularly in southern Ontario, he added.

Several of the committee’s ideas were realized through creation of Crown corporation Petro-Canada, the Foreign Investment Review Agency, the Canada Development Corporation to foster Canadian-controlled enterprises, and new rules for homegrown content on the airwaves.

Many effects of those policies linger today, Azzi said. “I think our sense of Canada to a large extent was shaped in that period.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2021.

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Travellers to be placed in queues based on vaccine status on arrival at Toronto Pearson airport – CBC.ca

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When travellers arrive at Toronto Pearson International Airport, they’ll be split into two separate queues — vaccinated people in one, with non-vaccinated people or people who are only partially vaccinated in another.

“This is a measure to help streamline the border clearance process,” airport spokesperson Beverly MacDonald told the CBC. “There are different entry requirements for vaccinated and non/partially vaccinated travellers, which have been broadly communicated by the Government of Canada.”

As of July 5, fully vaccinated travellers permitted to enter Canada are exempted from quarantine measures and testing for COVID-19 on their eight day post-arrival.

Travellers are still required to get a pre-entry test, a quarantine plan if not granted the exemption, and an arrival test.

There is also a requirements checklist that involves providing proof of vaccination in ArriveCan — the government portal to submit vaccine information.

Passengers entering Canada from the United States or another international destination will be split into the two queues before reaching Canada Customs.

The process came into effect after the federal government introduced different entry requirements for vaccinated and non/partially vaccinated travel.

“We know that the arrivals experience is different for passengers than it was in pre-pandemic times,” MacDonald said. “We appreciate passengers’ patience as we work with all of our partners to implement Government of Canada requirements for international air travel.”

Toronto Pearson, with its Healthy Airport initiative, has mandated masks and enhanced cleaning measures and its HVAC systems. It says it continues to work with government agencies, airlines, and airports to follow safety protocols.

More information on the airports COVID-19 protocols is available at www.torontopearson.com/readytotravel

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