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Canada's new frigates could take part in ballistic missile defence – if Ottawa says yes – CBC.ca

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Canada’s new frigates are being designed with ballistic missile defence in mind, even though successive federal governments have avoided taking part in the U.S. program.

When they slip into the water some time in the mid-to-late 2020s, the new warships probably won’t have the direct capability to shoot down incoming intercontinental rockets.

But the decisions made in their design allow them to be converted to that role, should the federal government ever change course.

The warships are based upon the British Type 26 layout and are about to hit the drawing board. Their radar has been chosen and selected missile launchers have been configured to make them easy and cost-effective to upgrade.

Vice-Admiral Art McDonald said the Lockheed Martin-built AN/SPY-7 radar system to be installed on the new frigates is cutting-edge. It’s also being used on land now by the U.S. and Japan for detecting ballistic missiles.

“It’s a great piece and that is what we were looking for in terms of specification,” McDonald told CBC News in a year-end interview.

An artist’s rendering of the British Type 26 frigate. (BAE Systems Inc./Lockheed Martin Canada)

Selecting the radar system for the new frigates was seen as one of the more important decisions facing naval planners because it has to stay operational and relevant for decades to come — even as new military threats and technologies emerge.

McDonald said positive feedback from elsewhere in the defence industry convinced federal officials that they had made the right choice.

“Even from those that weren’t producing an advanced kind of radar, they said this is the capability you need,” he said.

The whole concept of ballistic missile defence (BMD) remains a politically touchy topic.

BMD — “Star Wars” to its critics — lies at the centre of a policy debate the Liberal government has tried to avoid at all costs. In 2017, Canada chose not to join the BMD program. That reluctance to embrace BMD dates back to the political bruising Paul Martin’s Liberal government suffered in 2004-05, when the administration of then-U.S. president George W. Bush leaned heavily on Ottawa to join the program.

In the years since, both the House of Commons and Senate defence committees have recommended the federal government relent and sign on to BMD — mostly because of the emerging missile threat posed by rogue nations such as North Korea.

Liberals reluctant to talk BMD

The question of whether to join BMD is expected to form part of the deliberations surrounding the renewal of NORAD — an undertaking the Liberal government has acknowledged but not costed out as part of its 2017 defence policy.

Missile defence continues to be a highly fraught concept within the federal government. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan made a point of downplaying a CBC News story last summer that revealed how the Canadian and U.S. militaries had laid down markers for what the new NORAD could look like, pending sign-off by both Washington and Ottawa.

Asked about Sajjan’s response, a former senior official in the minister’s office said it raised the spectre of “Star Wars” — not a topic the Liberal government was anxious to discuss ahead of last fall’s election.

The current government may not want to talk about it, but the Canadian navy and other NATO countries are grappling with the technology.

Practice makes perfect

Last spring, a Canadian patrol frigate, operating with 12 other alliance warships, tracked and shot down a supersonic target meant to simulate a ballistic missile. A French frigate also scored a separate hit.

For the last two years, NATO warships have practiced linking up electronically in defensive exercises to shoot down both mock ballistic and cruise missiles. A Canadian frigate in the 2017 iteration of the exercise destroyed a simulated cruise missile.

HMCS St. John’s conducts a replenishment at sea during NATO operation Formidable Shield on May 4, 2019. (Pte. Sarina McNeill/Department of National Defence)

At the recent Halifax Security Forum, there was a lot of talk about the proliferation of missile technology. One defence expert told the forum Canadian military planners have been paying attention to the issue for a long time.

The frigate design is an important example.

“I think what they’ve tried to do is keep the door open by some of the decisions they’ve made, recognizing that missile proliferation is a significant concern,” said Dave Perry, of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. “They haven’t shut the door on doing that and I think that is smart.”

Opponents of BMD, meanwhile, have long argued the fixation by the U.S. and NATO on ballistic missile defence is fuelling instability and giving Russia and China reasons to cooperate in air and missile defence.

Speaking before a Commons committee in 2017, Peggy Mason, president of the foreign and defence policy think-tank Rideau Institute, said the United States’s adversaries have concluded that building more offensive systems is cheaper than investing in defensive ones.

“The American BMD system also acts as a catalyst to nuclear weapons modernization, as Russia and China seek not only increased numbers of nuclear weapons but also increased manoeuvrability,” said Mason, Canada’s ambassador for disarmament from 1989 to 1994, testifying on Sept. 14, 2017.

She also warned that “there would be significant financial costs to Canadian participation” in the U.S. BMD program “given American demands” — even prior to Donald Trump’s presidency — “that allies pay their ‘fair share’ of the collective defence burden.”

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Canada's top doctors reveal flip side to public praise: 'I've had death threats' – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The top health officials co-ordinating Canada’s COVID-19 response say the majority of public reaction to their work has been positive — but they’ve also received some abusive feedback that ranges from “well-thought-out insults” to “death threats.”

“I’ve got a lot of positive responses, but there are many people who don’t like what I do, or don’t like the way I say it or don’t like my shoes and feel quite able to send me nasty notes, to leave phone calls, to harass my office staff,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s top doctor, speaking Tuesday.

“I’ve had to have security in my house, I’ve had death threats,” she added.

Her comment made headlines after she revealed the death threats she’d been facing — and it prompted reporters to quiz other health officials about how they’ve been treated by the public.

While the other public health officers did not report death threats, they said they had been on the receiving end of some abuse.

Dr. Heather Morrison, who serves as the top doctor in P.E.I., said she’s received a small amount of feedback that’s been frightening.

“Overwhelmingly, it’s been so wonderful,” Morrison told CTV News in an interview.

However, she conceded that “there have been threats, at times.”

“It makes me concerned for my family, and my children, and my staff,” Morrison said.

While some doctors, such as Henry and Morrison, reported outright threats, others said that while they hadn’t faced any threats, there had been a heaping of criticism levelled towards them.

“Dr. Hinshaw has received a wide range of correspondence from Albertans,” said a spokesperson for Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

“While this includes strong personal and professional criticisms, she has not received death threats or hate mail to date.”

Newfoundland and Labrador’s top doctor, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, said in her Wednesday press conference that it’s “unfortunate” people feel public servants “deserve to be the target of such harassment.”

“In the Public Health Division we’ve had our share of emails that aren’t necessarily in agreement with some of the things that we have done, but you know, we have to accept that as part of the job I guess,” she added.

Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said in her own Wednesday press conference that she has also been on the receiving end of insults — but no threats.

“I haven’t had any threats. I’ve had some very-well-thought-out insults sent my way, but for the most part, no, no threats,” she said.

RESEARCH POINTS TO WOMEN FACING MORE CRITICISM ONLINE

At least one study indicates that the numbers reflect what these doctors are describing — and may point to a gender divide in the negative feedback they face.

Erin Kelly is the CEO of Advanced Symbolics Inc., which uses Artificial Intelligence for human behaviour research. She studied the feedback these public health officer face using a randomized, controlled sample of 270,000 Canadians taken from Twitter.

Kelly said the randomized, controlled sample she studied was taken from Twitter between October 1, 2019 to September 22, 2020. She said her results had a margin of error of +/- 1 per cent, with a 95-per-cent confidence interval 19 times out of 20.

She said they found, overall, discussion about Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Bonnie Henry was “well in excess of 80 per cent positive, so overall Canadians feel they’re doing a good job.”

“However, we have seen for some of them like Bonnie Henry, feelings about her have been on the decline since about April, and especially since July, that contestations questioning her competence have been increasing,” Kelly said.

She added that roughly a quarter of the discussions about Tam were what she would “classify as racist.”

“But the bigger picture that we see is a gender bias in how public health officials are being perceived,” Kelley said.

She explained that where there are negative comments directed at public health officials, “it comes overwhelmingly from men.”

She said that when this was compared to the comments Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams faces, “the comments from men were overwhelmingly positive.”

“So it’s not as though they’re always negative about public health officials generally, it seems to be splitting along gender lines,” Kelly said.

When asked about this gender difference, Alberta’s top doctor said it would be “difficult” to compare what she’s experienced with the feelings among her colleagues.

“It’s not something I’ve discussed with my male colleagues across the country so that might be something of interest to find out if they’re experiencing some similar frustrations,” Hinshaw said.

“I think it is quite understandable that people do feel angry, it’s just really important that, if people are feeling angry, that they frame their concerns in a respectful way…whether people in leadership are women or men.”

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Coronavirus: Canada adds 1,329 cases, 5 deaths Thursday – Global News

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Canada added 1,329 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday and five deaths.

That brings the national total to 148,941 cases and 9,249 deaths, with two deaths added from earlier in the week.

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Ontario reported 409 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its case total to 48,496 and count back into the 400s after 335 cases were reported Wednesday.

Currently there are 88 people in hospital with the virus in the province, with 27 of them in intensive care and 11 on a ventilator.

Quebec, meanwhile, reported 582 new cases on Thursday, bringing the province’s total to 69,670. Hospitalizations increased by six to 184, with 31 in intensive care.

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One additional death was announced that occurred between Sept. 17 and 22. The province has the most deaths in the country at 5,810.

Out west, British Columbia reported 148 new cases on Thursday, with 61 currently in hospital, 20 of them in intensive care. The province has seen 8,543 cases total.

Two new deaths were reported as well.

Alberta announced 158 new cases, with 58 people currently in hospital, 14 in intensive care. There are 1,462 active cases total.

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The province also announced one new death — a man in his 80s from Calgary.

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Manitoba reported 37 new cases of COVID-19. The province currently has 449 active cases, with 11 in hospital and six in intensive care.

The province also confirmed the death of a woman in her 90s in a long-term care home in Winnipeg, which was first reported on Tuesday.

Saskatchewan added five new cases to its tally of 1,835 total cases on Thursday, and currently has 130 active cases with eight people hospitalized. No new deaths were reported.






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In the Maritimes, New Brunswick reported one new case of an individual from Fredericton but who is currently in Ontario.

Nova Scotia added no new cases to its sole active case. The province currently has one person in ICU and has had 1,087 cases total.

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No cases were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI or any of the territories.

There have been 32,091,257 cases reported worldwide and 980,299 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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CP Holiday Train won't roll across Canada this year due to pandemic – CBC.ca

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Since 1999, the annual Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train has pulled into communities across Canada and the United States to raise money for local food banks.

But like so many events deemed unworkable amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the festive train won’t be leaving its station this holiday season.

Keith Creel, the railway’s president and CEO, said CP will instead donate to food banks across the railway network this year and host virtual concerts in lieu of the annual event.

“COVID-19 has created many challenges for communities across our network and has only increased the need at local food banks and food shelves,” he said in a release.

“It is our honour to continue to donate to communities across our network this year, even if the train itself will not run.”

Over its 21 years of operation, the holiday train has raised $17.8 million while collecting 4.8 million pounds of food for local food banks.

Calgary Food Bank president and CEO James McAra said that support would be especially needed amidst rising demand during the pandemic.

“The need for food bank services has risen substantially over the course of this year and heading into the high-demand winter months. We hope CP’s concert will prompt the train’s supporters to give as generously as they’re able,” McAra said in a release.

Details about the virtual concerts will be released at a later date. CP said it plans to resume the holiday train in 2021.

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