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Canada: Trudeau denounces anti-vaccine trucker protests – Al Jazeera English



Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denounced “symbols of hatred and division” that were on display during mass demonstrations by anti-vaccine truckers and their supporters in the capital, Ottawa.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Trudeau said that while people have a right to protest, “hate can never be the answer”.

“Over the past few days, Canadians were shocked and frankly disgusted by the behaviour displayed by some people protesting in our nation’s capital,” Trudeau said during a news conference.

“I want to be very clear: We are not intimidated by those who hurl insults and abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless. We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags. We won’t cave to those who engage in vandalism or dishonour the memory of our veterans.”

Participants in the so-called “Freedom Convoy” began arriving in Ottawa on Friday from across the country, and a crowd of thousands marched through the city the next day to denounce a coronavirus vaccine mandate for truckers driving across the Canada-US border.

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While some protesters raised grievances with the vaccine mandate and wider COVID-19 policies in Canada, experts last week pointed out that known far-right activists who espouse Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and other hateful views were among the event organisers.

Images shared on social media during the weekend showed protesters waving flags with swastikas on them, as well as US Confederate flags – which civil rights groups say is a symbol of white supremacy.

Global News journalist Marc-Andre Cossette also tweeted a photo of a flag of the Three Percenters, a far-right, anti-government militia that Canada designated as a “terrorist” organisation last year, that was draped to the hood of a truck parked near Parliament Hill.

“To anyone who joined the convoy but is rightly uncomfortable with the symbols of hatred and division on display: join with your fellow Canadians, be courageous and speak out – do not stand for or with intolerance and hate,” Trudeau said on Monday.

‘Tired and frightened’

Many Canadians also were angered when demonstrators parked vehicles on the site of a monument to fallen soldiers, as well as defaced a statue of Terry Fox, a widely revered, late Canadian athlete who ran across the country in the 1980s to raise money for cancer research after one of his legs was amputated.

Meanwhile, Ottawa residents have complained of incessant honking and restrictions on movement in the downtown area, where many of the protesters have parked their vehicles, while others said they were verbally harassed and intimidated.

“People live in the downtown; they’re sick and tired of the diesel fumes and the honking of the horn. Their kids can’t get to sleep. They feel fearful,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said in an interview with CBC News on Monday morning.

“We’ve had a number of occasions where people have been intimidated and yelled at for wearing a mask outside,” Watson said. “It just is illogical. Even their theme of coming here to fight for freedom – you’re fighting against some of the rare tools we have to fight COVID-19.”

A person carries a Confederate battle flag in front of the Canadian parliamentA person carries a Confederate flag in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, January 29 [Patrick Doyle/Reuters]

Shepherds of Good Hope, a homeless shelter in downtown Ottawa, said in a statement on Sunday that staff and volunteers in its soup kitchen were subjected to “verbal harassment and pressure” from protesters seeking meals.

One member of the shelter community was assaulted by protesters, the shelter said, and a security guard who went to the person’s aid “was threatened and called racial slurs”.

A reporter at the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, Elizabeth Payne, also cited a spokesperson for the Ottawa Paramedic Service as reporting that rocks were thrown at an ambulance and racial slurs were made against the paramedic from a truck that was part of the protest convoy. “Paramedics working downtown asked for police escorts because they didn’t feel safe,” she tweeted.

Catherine McKenney, an Ottawa city councillor, tweeted on Monday morning that she had heard from hundreds of residents “who are tired & frightened at what they are experiencing in their neighbourhoods”.

She said she would attend a meeting with city and police officials to raise those concerns. “And I will say that we need to call on the provincial and federal governments for help. We have been patient but we are fed up. It’s time to get our city back,” McKenney wrote.

Some Ottawa residents have criticised police for their response to the demonstrations.

In a statement on Sunday, the Ottawa Police Service said the cost of policing the protest is estimated at more than $800,000 Canadian ($628,000) per day, but said “police have avoided ticketing and towing vehicle[s] so as not to instigate confrontations with demonstrators”.

“Police are aware that many demonstrators have announced their intention to stay in place. This will continue to cause major traffic, noise and safety issues in the downtown core. We urge all residents to avoid travel” to the area, it said.

Even before protesters began arriving in Ottawa, organisers openly said their intention was to disrupt day-to-day life in the Canadian capital.

Organisers also said the demonstration went beyond the vaccine mandate for truck drivers, a vast majority of whom are vaccinated, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), a federation of provincial trucking associations that has denounced the protests. Some participants have vowed to remain outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa until all coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

“This is no longer about the mandate any more,” said Jason LaFace, the convoy’s main organiser in Ontario, who is not a trucker, as reported by CityNews last week. “This is about Canada, this is about our rights and how the government’s been manipulating the population and oppressing us all the time.”

Barbara Perry, a professor at Ontario Tech University and director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism, told Al Jazeera last week that the convoy has brought together “anti-vax sentiment, anti-lockdown sentiment, anti-government sentiment – and then even beyond that, the far-right [is] coming into play”.

A protester wears a cutout image of Justin Trudeau during the protest in OttawaThe protesters began arriving in Ottawa on Friday afternoon [Patrick Doyle/Reuters]

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‘McGregor-Mayweather rematch in the making’



Los Angeles, United States of America (USA)- has reported that Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather are in discussions over holding a second bout.

Mayweather beat McGregor in their huge clash back in June 2017 but McGregor has hinted at a possible rematch in a post on his Instagram account.

The UFC superstar posted a cryptic post hinting at a second bout by sharing a picture of their 2017 clash and writing, “I accept.”

However, it’s uncertain as to whether a rematch between the pair would be another exhibition bout, or whether Mayweather would make it one more professional fight.

Meanwhile, YouTuber, Jake Paul, has repeatedly claimed that Mayweather still hasn’t paid him following last year’s exhibition bout. Their eight-round exhibition bout went to a draw as Mayweather was unable to knockout Paul, “Floyd Mayweather is broke. I have been saying it all the time. I think he probably spent it on the girls he pays to be around him. He’s hard to hit, but even harder to collect money from. Who should I fight next?”

However, Mayweather has since dismissed the accusations claiming that Paul has suggested that the pair should have a second exhibition bout.

“This is the guy who said he didn’t get paid, which we know is truly false, which is why I don’t entertain the bull*** a lot of the time. We know he got paid and if he didn’t get paid he wouldn’t be trying to get another payday. It is so crazy that Logan Paul wants to do an exhibition again but it is the same guy that said he didn’t get paid. It is what it is,” said Mayweather.

Mayweather was expected to earn US$64 million from the fight, with Logan receiving US$18.5 million of the purse.

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G7: Canada to elevate small Commonwealth nations' concerns – CTV News



KIGALI, Rwanda –

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau headed to the G7 summit in Germany on Saturday without a consensus from the Commonwealth to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but with a chorus of countries calling for help to overcome the fallout of the war.

Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been dominated by the concerns of nations that are suffering from food scarcity. Trudeau departed for the G7 talk slater in the day.

In the final communique from the Commonwealth summit, the 54 participating countries said they discussed the conflict in Ukraine, ” underscored the need to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” and ” emphasized that all countries must seek peaceful resolution to all disputes in accordance with international law.”

The countries stopped short of condemning Russia, as Trudeau and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson have done throughout the summit.

“I can assure you that the topic of standing up for Ukraine was much discussed,” Trudeau said at a press conference following the conclusion of the summit, referencing “strong language” in the communique.

Most Commonwealth Nations condemned Russia’s actions at a United Nations vote in March, but 10 abstained. Among them was India, whose Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted not to attend the Commonwealth summit and instead spoke virtually with the leaders of Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa.

Trudeau said Russian President Vladimir Putin has run a disinformation campaign and has even been “telling outright lies,” including blaming the food security crisis on Western sanctions against Russia.

He said food shortage stems from Russia’s illegal actions, including blockade at key ports, as well as the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian grain storage facilities through cruise missile strikes.

“I was very clear with our friends and partners around the table, and not just clear on Russia’s responsibility, but on how Canada and the West are stepping up,” Trudeau said.

Canada will be raising the growing threat of famine at the G7 in Schloss Elmau Germany, Joly said.

She said Canada was in “listening mode” at the Commonwealth meetings, where leaders of smaller nations were able to speak without the dominating presence of the United States, Russia and China.

“What is clear to us is that Russia is weaponizing food and putting a toll on many countries around the world, and putting 50 million lives at risk,” Joly told reporters Friday in Rwanda.

Trudeau had attempted to meet with the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for several days during the Commonwealth summit but the sit-down was repeatedly postponed and eventually cancelled.

Shortly after Trudeau arrived in Rwanda, the government announced Canada would dedicate a new ambassador to the African Union, which has suffered from the food shortages inflicted on the continent as a result of the warin Ukraine.

Both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin have met with representatives of the African Union, with Russia blaming sanctions against its government for stopping the flow of grain.

At the conclusion of the Commonwealth summit, Trudeau announced $94 million in funding for various education initiatives and $120 million to support gender equality and women’s rights in Commonwealth countries.

Some of the other voices the prime minister has promised to centre at his international meetings, including the G7 summit,

belong to youth leaders who spoke at a Saturday-morning event focused on issues facing young people around the world.

Some of the delegates spoke about the devastating effects of climate change, particularly around remote island nations where infrastructure cannot withstand natural disasters and rebuilding efforts take years. The onslaught takes a toll on education and health services, one delegate told the forum.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

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New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays – Global News



The federal government has created a special task force to help tackle the major delays with immigration applications and passport processing that have left Canadians frustrated.

In a statement announcing the new task force, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government knows the delays are unacceptable, and will continue to do everything it can to improve the delivery of the services in an efficient and timely manner.

Read more:

Passport renewal wait times now online as Ottawa looks to address long lineups

Trudeau said the new task force will help guide the government to better meet the changing needs of Canadians, and continue to provide them with the high-quality services they need and deserve.

Ten cabinet members will spearhead the new committee, which will review how services are delivered, and identify gaps and areas for improvement.

Click to play video: 'New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog'

New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog

New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog – Jun 15, 2022

The committee will be expected to make recommendations outlining short- and longer-term solutions that would reduce wait times, clear out backlogs, and improve the overall quality of services provided.

Read more:

Canadian passport delays are frustrating travellers. What’s the fix?

In addition, the task force will monitor external issues, such as labour shortages around the world, which contribute to travel delays at home and abroad.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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