Authorities in western province of British Columbia are fighting large blazes that broke out after an historic heatwave.
In a statement on Sunday, the federal government said the army would help transport “personnel, supplies and equipment into and out of areas affected by fires” in the province, as well as aid in any emergency evacuations.
Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, said the military’s support would be available until July 19.
“Canadians can be assured that all orders of government are working together to keep British Columbians and their communities safe,” Blair said in the statement.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes due to the blazes, which come after a record-breaking heatwave is believed to have contributed to hundreds of deaths across the province, according to local officials.
Experts say climate change is worsening extreme weather events, such as the wildfires and heatwave seen in BC – and that has prompted calls for the Canadian government to move away from large fossil fuel projects, such as pipelines.
On Sunday afternoon, a BC Wildfire Service dashboard showed 184 fires were still active in BC, and authorities said they feared more could be ignited.
“Unfortunately, we are expecting another lightning event to move through areas of the southern interior,” said BC provincial fire information officer Jean Strong, as reported by CBC News. “And if we see that … I would expect to see more ignitions.”
Local media reported that at least two people died in the village of Lytton, about 275km (170 miles) northeast of Vancouver in the BC interior, after enormous fires and smoke overwhelmed the community and forced a rapid evacuation on Wednesday.
Lytton had earlier broken Canada’s highest temperature record for several days in a row.
Chief Matt Pasco of the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council, which includes Lytton First Nation, condemned the evacuation in an interview with The Canadian Press this weekend.
Pasco accused the government of ignoring the community’s needs in the early hours of the emergency. “It was an abysmal attempt at the very thing they’re meant to do,” he told the news agency. “They had processes in places for our cattle but none for Nlaka’pamux people.”
The BC government acknowledged that “early communication” with Indigenous leaders “didn’t live up to expectations”, CP reported.
In a statement on Sunday, the province said Royal Canadian Mounted Police “continue to make every effort to ensure all residents and evacuees from the Village of Lytton and the neighbouring Indigenous communities are safe and accounted for”.
The government also urged residents who have been evacuated from their homes to register with the authorities “so loved ones and communities know where you are and that you are safe”.
It said emergency support services have been set up to provide evacuees with food, clothing and a place to stay, while reception centres also were established in several locations, including the cities of Kamloops, Chilliwack and Kelowna.
Canada boosts capacity of key supply hub for weapons to Ukraine – CBC News
Defence Minister Anita Anand says Canada is boosting its capacity at a key transportation hub in Scotland, so weapons and other supplies can more easily be shipped to Ukraine and other countries in eastern Europe.
Canadian forces have been responsible for delivering four million pounds of cargo since March, and the Prestwick, Scotland hub will now be expanded into an air mobility detachment with a third CC-130 aircraft and 55 Canadian Armed Forces members present.
“We are expanding the ways in which we are assisting Ukraine and getting military aid to Ukraine by delivering even more aid,” Anand told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton in an interview airing Sunday.
CBC News reported earlier this week Ukraine has written to the Canadian government to request armoured vehicles, howitzers and winter clothing.
Canada has promised to deliver 39 armoured troop carriers, and Anand said she’d be meeting with industry partners in Canada to talk about the issue of supply.
Anand said NATO countries are all trying to strike a balance between arms shipments to Ukraine and maintaining supplies to their own armed forces.
“This is front and centre in my mind,” she said.
Canada must say yes to Ukraine: Rae
Canada has committed or delivered $626 million in military aid to Ukraine since February.
Asked about Ukraine’s list of weapons requests in an interview on CBC Radio’s The House that aired Saturday, UN Ambassador Bob Rae said Canada would be hard pressed to deny the asks.
“It may be a career-limiting move for me to say this, but I don’t believe we could say anything less than yes,” Rae said.
“That’s been my consistent advice to whoever, whoever, whoever is listening. Obviously, governments have to decide the pace at which they can do it.”
LISTEN | UN Ambassador Bob Rae discusses latest developments in Ukraine war:
Some NATO countries have struggled to strike the balance Anand described Sunday, due in part to a lack of robust inventory.
“Since the end of the Cold War, not only have allies considerably restructured their armed forces, they also don’t hold the stockpiles anymore that they used to have,” Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, told CBC News earlier this week.
“And so, effectively, most of what you ended up giving away today comes out of your current stockpile. So this is equipment that you’re actually going to be actively short.”
The calls for more aid from Ukraine come as offensives in both the country’s east and south continue, but also as Russia announced a partial mobilization to bring hundreds of thousands more soldiers into its ranks. Russian President Vladimir Putin also threatened this week that Russia was prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend itself.
Russia also announced and rapidly began referendums in occupied Ukrainian territories.
Anand said Putin’s decision to raise the threat of nuclear war and mobilization were “acts of desperation.”
Atlantic Canada begins assessing, cleaning up damage from Fiona – CBC.ca
People across Atlantic Canada are beginning to assess the damage and clean up after post-tropical storm Fiona swept through the region Saturday.
As of 9 a.m., remnants of Fiona are over southeastern Labrador and have merged with a trough — a long region of low atmospheric pressure.
Fiona spent early Sunday morning moving inland in southeastern Quebec as a post-tropical storm, according to Environment Canada. It’s expected to dissipate over the Labrador Sea.
The agency said winds were at 80 km/h and all wind warnings associated with the storm have ended.
In Newfoundland, some homes were washed away or flattened, others were flooded, roads were washed out and people were evacuated. The damage was most striking in Port aux Basques, where boulders and debris were scattered across the community.
On Sunday morning, CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler said the bulk of the damage in Port aux Basques was caused by storm surge.
The Salvation Army has co-ordinated an emergency shelter for people displaced from their homes in the Port aux Basques area at the local school.
In Nova Scotia, hundreds of thousands of customers were without power on Sunday, and the Canadian Armed Forces has been called in to help restore electricity.
Nova Scotia Power president Peter Gregg said in a statement Sunday that the utility knows “there will be customers who face outages for multiple days” given the damage created by the storm.
Two municipalities in Cape Breton declared a state of emergency. The fastest winds clocked in at 171 km/h in Arisaig, just north of Antigonish.
Ottawa has also approved Nova Scotia’s request for funding for disaster assistance to help municipalities repair damaged infrastructure, and to assist individuals and small businesses pay for uninsured losses
On Prince Edward Island, winds hit 150 km/h and almost 100 millimetres of rain fell, homes and businesses were damaged and flooded, and at one point about 95 per cent of Maritime Electric customers had lost electricity.
Premier Dennis King said Sunday that his province’s road to recovery “will be weeks or longer” since the damage may have been “the worst we’ve ever seen” from a tropical storm.
Residents in Charlottetown are now being asked to stay off the roads and shelter in place after the storm rushed over the Island.
In New Brunswick, roads were flooded, a bridge was destroyed and tens of thousands were without electricity. Residents there are also being asked to stay away from dangerous, storm-ravaged areas.
Bill Hogan, the province’s public safety minister, said it will take time to fully calculate the damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona, but he expects help will be made available to affected residents.
Power outages are still widespread on Sunday morning, with more than 365,000 customers in the dark across the four Atlantic provinces, including more than 260,000 in Nova Scotia.
Officials across Eastern Canada set to begin assessing full scope of storm damage
After hammering Atlantic Canada, post-tropical storm Fiona has moved inland in southeastern Quebec, with Environment Canada saying the storm will continue to weaken as it tracks across southeastern Labrador and over the Labrador Sea.
As of 6 a.m. local time, nearly 267,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were still affected by outages, 82,414 Maritime Electric customers remained in the dark and more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick were without power, with some provincial utility companies warning it could be days before the lights are back on for everyone.
Newfoundland Power reported outages affecting more than 3,600 customers, as high-end tropical storm force winds knocked down trees and power lines, although Environment Canada said winds would diminish in the morning.
In an early Sunday morning update, Environment Canada said strong winds continued over the northern Newfoundland, southeastern Labrador and parts of southeastern Quebec.
A wind warning remained in effect for the western part of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, while storm warnings are in place for parts of the Northeast Gulf and Strait of Belle Isle marine areas.
As Fiona continued to weaken, government officials across Eastern Canada prepared to survey the full scope of the damage left behind.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, along with several members of his cabinet, were scheduled to tour some of the hardest hit areas of Cape Breton by helicopter Sunday morning.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who cancelled his planned visit to Japan for the state funeral of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, said he will visit as soon as possible, while noting he doesn’t want to displace any emergency teams who are focused on important work on the ground.
Defence Minister Anita Anand said Saturday members of the Canadian Armed Forces had begun preparing to respond before receiving the request for assistance from Nova Scotia, and troops will be deployed to other provinces that ask for help.
No details were provided on the number of troops being deployed, but Anand said reconnaissance was underway to ensure they go where and when they are needed most.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2022.
The Canadian Press
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