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Canadians need a ‘wake-up call’ on China interference in Canada, Liberal MP says

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A Liberal MP says a foreign agent registry could be a “wake-up call” for Canadians regarding potential Chinese interference in the country’s affairs.

John McKay, the MP for Toronto’s Scarborough—Guildwood, told Global News he’s not sure whether Canadians have completely come to grips with the extent China may be manipulating not only its diaspora in Canada but also the society at large.

Canada is currently debating whether to create a foreign influence registry. It would require those who act on behalf of a foreign state to advance its goals to disclose their ties to the government employing them. McKay said such a registry would raise awareness and “alert functions.”

“I hope that it acts as a bit of a wake-up call for us all,” he said.

McKay recently made a trip to Taiwan as part of a delegation of Canadian parliamentarians and said they are far more aware of Chinese interference in their society, noting that many Canadians are largely unaware of the “threat environment” here.

Canada has expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei after revelations he allegedly tried to target Conservative MP Michael Chong over his critical stance on China’s treatment of its Ughyur minority. Chong had backed a vote in the House of Commons pushing for the treatment to be labelled a genocide.

China in retaliation expelled Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, a Canadian diplomat in the Shanghai consulate.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was reportedly passing information to Global Affairs about Zhao’s efforts for three years, according to the Globe and Mail.

“You have to be concerned,” McKay said of the report. “You just have to be.”

He questioned whether the detainment of Michael Spavor and Michale Kovrig in China at the time — widely seen as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou — could have potentially impacted Canada’s willingness to act on the information.

“What’s greatly disturbing news is that it works. Kidnapping … constrains our reactions,” McKay said.

China has hinted it may retaliate against Canada further, saying it will “act firmly.”

 

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Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigating after parasite found in P.E.I. oysters

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SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – A “worrisome” parasite has been confirmed in at least one area on Prince Edward Island, and samples from several oyster farms have been sent for testing, says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Danielle Williams, disease technical specialist at the federal agency, said the parasite called multinucleate sphere X — or MSX — has been confirmed in Bedeque Bay on the province’s south shore.

“We haven’t determined the amount of spread yet, but it is worrisome. It is very worrisome,” she said in an interview Monday.

Several other sites are considered “under suspicion” of having the parasite and have been placed under quarantine as investigation continues to confirm whether it is present, including a location on Malpeque Bay on the province’s north shore, she added.

“We have found another location in Malpeque area and so we have a few places under quarantine right now,” she said. “What we did was that if a place was under suspicion, we placed it under quarantine until the testing results were finished.”

She said the parasite likes to stay in “little pockets of areas,” and if scientists are able to quickly identify and stop it from moving further, they can limit damage to the industry.

The parasite affects the growth of oysters and increases mortality, but there is no human health risk. Typically, cultivated oysters take about three years to reach market size, and the inspection agency said mortality rates from the disease can reach 90 to 95 per cent in older oysters.

The agency said MSX has previously been found in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, but this is the first time it has been detected in Prince Edward Island waters. Testing confirmed the presence of the parasite earlier this month after P.E.I. reported a “significant” oyster mortality in Bedeque Bay this spring.

Cory Deagle, fisheries minister for Prince Edward Island, called the presence of MSX in oysters in Bedeque Bay “devastating news.”

“It isn’t just about the impact on our oyster industry, it is about the livelihood of Islanders, their families and our communities,” he said in a statement last week.

“This is the first time we have had to deal with MSX in our province, and while MSX has been heavily researched over the years, scientists, researchers, and fishers around the globe still do not understand how the disease spreads. It will take time before we know the full extent of the impact on our industry.”

A provincial government study said that in 2019 Prince Edward Island accounted for 32 per cent of the national economic value of oysters — about $54 million.

Peter Warris, executive director of the P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance, said oyster growers are “very concerned” about the presence of MSX, something they have been dreading for years. “So it’s bad news that it’s finally arrived,” he said.

Harvesters have not yet seen significant mortalities, he said, noting that the situation is evolving. “I think everyone’s taking a bit of a pause in terms of their activities … waiting to see the results from the testing, to see where it has spread to,” he said.

A publication from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture said MSX caused massive oyster mortalities in Delaware Bay in 1957 and two years later in Chesapeake Bay. While the parasite has been found in the United States from Florida to Maine, not all areas have been associated with oyster deaths, it said.

Warris said it is possible to have a thriving oyster industry in spite of MSX. “The industry will adapt to the new circumstances,” he said.

Rod Beresford, an associate professor at Cape Breton University’s biology department, said one of the challenges with the parasite is that in spite of it being around since the 1950s, there is not much known about its life cycle.

Scientists have tried to determine if the parasite uses a separate animal from the oyster to complete its life cycle. What they do know is that the infection is first seen in the oyster’s gills — which is where oysters get their food — and replicates, eventually leading to the death of the host.

“For something that’s been around for 60 years and caused this much economic and ecological damage, it’s really, really surprising that we’ve not figured out its life cycle,” Beresford said. “It’s really a mystery.”

In many diseases, proximity to an infected animal increases the likelihood of infection, but that is not always the case for MSX, said Beresford, who has been studying the parasite.

It is also not known exactly what temperatures, salinity or conditions result in this parasite eventually causing infection and disease. In the past, he said, researchers have put infected and non-infected oysters together in tanks and there was no spread. As well, oysters free from MSX were injected with tissue from a diseased animal but did not get infected, he added.

“We’re missing a piece of the life cycle here,” he said. “We know so little about this organism, it’s shocking. … We’re really stymied by this. It’s a real challenge.”

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



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One of Canada’s new navy ships stopped in Hawaii after taking on water

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OTTAWA – One of the country’s newest navy ships is tied up in a U.S. port after it took on 20,000 litres of water because of a leak.

HMCS Max Bernays is one of Canada’s new Arctic and offshore patrol ships, built in Halifax by Irving Shipyards.

It was taking part in an international exercise called the Rim of the Pacific Exercise when the incident happened July 12.

A Defence Department spokesperson said a valve and pump in one of the ship’s seawater cooling systems was leaking for about half an hour.

It’s not clear how long the repairs will take, and the navy is still trying to determine if the other seawater cooling system is affected.

The ship, delivered to the navy in late 2022, is one of three vessels sent to support Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy this spring.

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

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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Trudeau’s hand-picked candidate for Montreal byelection riles aspiring contenders

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to hand-pick a candidate for a riding in an upcoming Montreal byelection isn’t being well-received by three aspiring contenders who spent months campaigning only to be shunted aside.

The Liberals announced Montreal city Coun. Laura Palestini last Friday as the party’s candidate in a byelection whose date has yet to be announced for the riding of LaSalle—Émard—Verdun. The byelection must be called by July 30.

Three aspiring candidates — local school commissioner Lori Morrison; entrepreneur Christopher Baenninger; and former Quebec Liberal party organizer Eddy Kara — denounced the decision, with Morrison calling it “anti-democratic, 100 per cent.”

Morrison said she couldn’t believe the party let her knock on doors and sign up memberships only to ultimately abandon plans for a nomination meeting.

The nomination to become candidate in LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, Morrison said, was hotly contested because the riding “has been a Liberal stronghold for a very, very long time.”

Liberal campaign co-chair Soraya Martinez Ferrada has said it was Trudeau’s decision to prevent party members from choosing the candidate and to instead select Palestini, who represents the LaSalle borough on Montreal city council. Ferrada was on vacation and unavailable for comment Monday, her office said. The party declined to make anyone else available and instead provided a statement.

The Liberals have won the riding in all three elections since it was created, with former justice minister David Lametti re-elected with 42.9 per cent of the vote in 2021. The Bloc Québécois candidate received almost half as many votes — 22.1 per cent — while the New Democratic Party and the Conservatives picked up 19.4 per cent and 7.5 per cent of the vote, respectively.

Lametti resigned on Jan. 31, after he was excluded from Trudeau’s cabinet in last summer’s reshuffle.

Baenninger said he was “in shock” at Trudeau’s decision to forgo the nomination process and hand-pick a candidate, saying it was “not right” and “demotivating.”

Morrison refused to say whether the party is respecting its values by disregarding a nomination vote; Baenninger, meanwhile, said the decision falls within the rules. The party’s vetting committee, he explained, can reject any candidates in the best interest of the party.

However, Baenninger said, the party didn’t do itself any favours by pushing three candidates aside in favour of Palestini. “I’m going to be shrewd: we didn’t improve our chances. I’ll leave it at that.”

Trudeau’s leadership has been under scrutiny since the party failed to retain the riding of Toronto—St. Paul’s, a longtime Liberal bastion for more than three decades, that was won by the Conservatives on June 24. Nationally, the Liberals have been polling roughly 20 points behind the Tories led by Pierre Poilievre for more than one year.

Both Baenninger and Morrison said that before Palestini was announced by the party, they had never heard her name before.

Kara, a filmmaker and former provincial Liberal organizer, had the support of former Quebec finance minister Carlos Leitão and ex-MP Jean-Claude Poissant. He said it’s “really shocking” that Trudeau interrupted the nomination process, adding that the party sent signals that members would choose the candidate, including by publishing a nomination kit.

He said he learned that the Liberals wanted someone of Italian origin to “ensure we get the Italian vote.” Kara said three members of the Liberal Party executive confirmed to him that they were also considering appointing Daniela Romano, another municipal councillor in LaSalle.

According to 2016 census data, 8.2 per cent of the riding’s residents are of Italian origin.

Palestini will face another municipal councillor in the byelection, as the NDP have named Craig Sauvé, who represents the nearby Sud-Ouest borough on city council. The Conservatives will run Louis Ialenti, who the party describes as “a common-sense small business owner.” The Bloc has not revealed its candidate.

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

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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