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Canada’s public broadcaster CBC shutting Beijing bureau

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CBC says it ‘can’t get visas for journalists’ to work in China as permanent correspondents, prompting bureau closure.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has announced it is shutting its bureau in China after more than four decades, citing an ongoing, years-long wait for work visas for its reporters in Beijing.

Editor-in-Chief Brodie Fenlon said in a blog post on Wednesday that CBC’s French-language service, Radio-Canada Info, applied for a visa for its Beijing correspondent in October 2020.

“Despite numerous exchanges with the Chinese consulate in Montreal and requests for meetings over the last two years, there is still no visa,” he said, adding that CBC’s correspondent in the Chinese capital returned to Canada after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and has not returned.

“While there was no dramatic expulsion or pointed public statements, the effect is the same. We can’t get visas for our journalists to work there as permanent correspondents,” Fenlon said.

“There is no point keeping an empty bureau when we could easily set up elsewhere in a different country that welcomes journalists and respects journalistic scrutiny.”

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The move comes after Russia announced in May that it was closing CBC’s Moscow bureau in response to the Canadian government’s decision to ban the Russian broadcaster Russia Today amid the war in Ukraine.

Canada’s relations with Russia and China have been tested in recent years, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regularly speaking out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China’s human rights record, respectively.

Tensions between Ottawa and Beijing ramped up in June when Canada accused China of harassing its aircraft carrying out United Nations sanctions patrols near North Korea. The Chinese government responded by accusing the Canadian military of “provocations” and warned Canada that it could face “severe consequences”.

Meanwhile, rights groups have raised alarm about press freedom in China for years.

An annual survey by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China released in late January concluded that media freedom was deteriorating in the country at “breakneck speed”. Reporters Without Borders, a global media watchdog, also warned last year that China continued to take internet censorship, surveillance and propaganda to “unprecedented levels”.

Last week, the United States also condemned the fraud conviction of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, warning that the Chinese territory’s human rights protections were deteriorating and its once-vibrant press “has all but disappeared”.

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The Chinese embassy in Ottawa did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Reuters news agency on CBC’s decision on Wednesday.

“Closing the Beijing bureau is the last thing we want to do, but our hand has been forced. Our commitment to covering China and East Asia is steadfast. We will begin the process of finding a new home base in the months ahead,” Fenlon said in the blog post.

“We hope China will someday open up again to our journalists, just as we hope Russia will one day reconsider its decision to expel us.”

Sasa Petricic, CBC’s last permanent correspondent in Beijing, said he hoped the Canadian broadcaster would be able to return to China because “being there remains [the] best way” to tell the story.

“In the 5 [years] I was there, official roadblocks made it increasingly difficult to report, and Beijing [was] unresponsive in granting new visas to CBC,” Petricic wrote on Twitter.

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Wildfire evacuees ordered to leave Jasper find relief after long journey to safety

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GRAND PRAIRIE, ALBERTA – Some wildfire evacuees who were trapped in traffic for hours while leaving Jasper National Park say they are feeling relieved to have found safety.

Addison McNeill, who is 24, says she felt stressed when she got an alert on Monday night to evacuate Jasper about two hours after she moved to the alpine town from Edmonton.

When she got on the road, she says she saw many of Jasper’s 4,700 residents exiting the town calmly along with visitors despite being trapped in gridlock and hot, smoky air for hours.

Evacuees were initially ordered to go to British Columbia but were directed on Tuesday to make a wide U-turn as that province was dealing with its own wildfires.

Since then, reception centres have been set up north of Jasper in Grande Prairie as well as in Calgary and Edmonton, where evacuees are being helped with accommodations.

Jasper resident Leanne Maeva Joyeuse says she feels relieved to have made it to Grande Prairie after having been on the road for nearly 20 hours but she is worried about how the wildfires will affect her town.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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In the news today: Wildfire evacuees relieved after evacuating Jasper

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Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed…

Wildfire evacuees relieved after evacuating Jasper

Some wildfire evacuees who were trapped in traffic for hours while leaving Jasper National Park say they are feeling relieved they’ve found safety.

Addison McNeill, who is 24, says she immediately felt stressed when she got an alert on Monday night to evacuate the alpine town about two hours after she moved there from Edmonton.

When she got on the road, she says she saw Jasper’s 4,700 residents and other tourists exiting the town calmy despite being trapped in a gridlock and hot, smoky air for hours

Evacuees were initially ordered to go to British Columbia but were directed on Tuesday to make a wide U-turn as that province was dealing with its own wildfires.

Since then, reception centres have been set up in Grande Prairie, located north of Jasper, and Calgary to the south where evacuees are being helped with accommodation.

Here’s what else we’re watching…

BoC expected to cut key interest rate again today

The Bank of Canada is set to announce its interest rate decision this morning as economists widely expect a rate cut.

Forecasters say slowing inflation and a weak economy justify a second consecutive cut by the central bank.

After a historic run-up, the central bank lowered its policy rate for the first time in June, bringing it down from five per cent to 4.75 per cent.

Governor Tiff Macklem signalled at the time that if inflation continues to ease, it would be reasonable to expect more rate cuts.

Last week, Statistics Canada reported the annual inflation rate ticked back down to 2.7 per cent in June after flaring up again in May.

Nygard sentencing hearing set to begin today

A sentencing hearing is expected to begin today in Toronto for former fashion mogul Peter Nygard, who was found guilty of four counts of sexual assault last fall.

The sentencing process has been delayed in part because Nygard’s two previous defence lawyers, Brian Greenspan and Megan Savard, asked to withdraw from the case earlier this year.

Nygard, who once led a multimillion-dollar clothing empire, has also faced health challenges throughout the case, and his health is expected to be raised during sentencing submissions.

He was found guilty on four counts of sexual assault on Nov. 12, but was acquitted of a fifth count, as well as a charge of forcible confinement.

The charges relate to allegations dating from the 1980s until the mid-2000s.

Murder conspiracy accused back on witness stand

One of two men charged with conspiring to murder RCMP officers at the Coutts, Alta., border blockade two years ago will return to the witness stand for a third straight day.

Under cross-examination by the Crown yesterday, Chris Carbert said that he paid $5,000 for the Panther A-15 rifle found under his mattress in a police raid of a trailer in the village the night he was arrested.

He told the court that he had no idea that the rifle was prohibited under Canadian law.

Carbert and Anthony Olienick are being tried together in front of a jury in Court of King’s Bench in Lethbridge.

The two were charged after police made arrests and seized weapons at the blockade in early 2022.

Privacy commissioner probing PC Optimum complaints

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada says it’s opened an investigation into allegations that some Loblaw customers have been unable to delete their PC Optimum accounts.

Spokesman Vito Pilieci said in an email that the office has received several such complaints.

He said the office can’t comment further due to the active investigation.

Loblaw spokeswoman Catherine Thomas said in an email that the company has processes to respond to account deletion requests in a timely manner, and that it will fully co-operate with the privacy commissioner’s office.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner oversees compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act as well as the Privacy Act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2024.



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Member of Canada Soccer support team detained in France for alleged drone use

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PARIS – The Canadian Olympic Committee says a “non-accredited” member of Canada Soccer’s support team has been detained by French authorities in Saint-Étienne for allegedly using a drone to record New Zealand’s women’s soccer team during practice.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee said in a statement Tuesday that team support members alerted police after a drone was flown over the women’s soccer team’s practice on Monday, leading to the detention.

The NZOC said it registered a complaint with the International Olympic Committee’s integrity unit and asked Canada for a full review.

The COC said in a statement released Tuesday it is “shocked and disappointed” over the allegation and apologized to the NZOC and New Zealand Football.

“The Canadian Olympic Committee stands for fair-play and we are shocked and disappointed,” the statement said. “We offer our heartfelt apologies to New Zealand Football, to all the players affected, and to the New Zealand Olympic Committee.”

Canada, the defending Olympic women’s soccer champion, is scheduled to open its tournament against 28th ranked New Zealand on Friday in Saint-Étienne.

The COC said it is reviewing next steps with the IOC, Paris 2024, Canada Soccer and FIFA. The COC said it will provide an update Wednesday.

“Canada Soccer is working closely and cooperatively with the Canadian Olympic Committee on the matter involving the Women’s National Team,” Canada Soccer communications chief Paulo Senra said it a statement. “Next steps are being reviewed with the IOC, Paris 2024, and FIFA. We will provide an update (Wednesday).”

It’s not the first time a Canadian soccer team has been involved in a drone controversy involving an international rival’s training session.

In 2021 at Toronto, Honduras stopped a training session ahead of its men’s World Cup qualifier against Canada after spotting a drone above the field, according to reports in Honduran media. The teams played to a 1-1 draw.

French security forces guarding Paris 2024 sites are intercepting an average of six drones per day, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said Tuesday.

Attal added the drones are often operated by “individuals, maybe tourists wanting to take pictures.”

“That’s why it’s important to remind people of the rules. There’s a ban on flying drones,” he said, according to multiple news outlets.

“Systems are in place to allow us to very quickly intercept (drones) and arrest their operators.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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