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Charges laid in Ottawa under new crime of harassing a health worker

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Charges laid in Ottawa under new crime of harassing a health worker

OTTAWA — A 58-year-old Ontario man is facing charges under a new law against intimidating a health-care worker.

Ottawa police say there is a warrant out for the arrest of Louis Mertzelos in relation to threatening phone calls made to a health-care worker.

Ottawa family physician Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth says she was threatened after appearing on a national television show advocating for people to keep wearing masks.

She says police told her about the charges this morning, stemming from multiple harassing phone calls she received in September.

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Harassment and intimidation of health-care workers took on new levels during the pandemic, prompting the federal Liberals to pass a law in December 2021 to specifically make it a crime to intimidate health workers or their patients.

There are similar separate offences for harassment of politicians, judges, journalists and members of the clergy.

Kaplan-Myrth says threats were against the law before Bill C-3 took effect in January, but the specific offence sends a message to health-care providers that threats against them carry particular concern.

“It’s all been so horrible,” she said in an interview. “This law makes a difference.

Mertzelos is also charged with what the police say is a “hate-motivated offence” for harassing communication, harassment by repeated communication and mischief.

Kaplan-Myrth says more than one person called to harass and intimidate her and her staff, and the man charged today is alleged to also have targeted her with antisemitic slurs.

She says police were slow to respond to her initial complaints but have since been more active and say they are continuing to investigate the other threats made against her.

Kaplan-Myrth called it a relief “that for once, somebody has our backs.”

“It’s always more distressing when you say something horrible is happening, and then other people just shrug and they don’t do anything,” she said.

The charge of intimidating a health worker has been laid against at least two other people, both of them in Peterborough, Ont., in January. The man and woman were alleged to have been involved in a protest outside the home of the city’s public health officer.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2022.

 

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Canada's tourism minister predicts industry will help offset tough economic times | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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Canada’s tourism minister is predicting turbulent economic times are ahead but says the industry will make a strong comeback despite difficult pandemic years.

Randy Boissonnault joined hundreds of business leaders from across the province on Wednesday for the 2022 Tourism Summit in Halifax.

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Boissonnault says Canada is heading into choppy waters when it comes to the economy, but the tourism industry will help offset the effects.

He cites the war in Ukraine, ongoing supply chain issues and the rise in inflation as some of the factors pointing to a slowing of the economy.

Read more:

All ashore: Cruise season coming to an end for Maritime ports

He says Halifax’s tourism is already in a good place to help weather the storm.

“Nova Scotia is doing really well just from the hotel occupancy rate,” according to Boissonnault. “Nova Scotia hotels are at about 71 per cent, which is higher than the Canadian average, which is about 65 per cent. So that tells you there’s something special in Nova Scotia. People want to see the province. They want to come to Halifax. It’s a regional powerhouse city.”

John Simon is the president of CanadVac Travel Services. He’s not so sure the industry has fully recovered from the pandemic.

“I wouldn’t say I’m 100 per cent convinced of that yet,” Simon says.

“A lot of the tourism operators have come through with significant challenges in terms of debt load, making it through two years and more of no income. Of course, the federal programs helped in terms of making it through but they also put them in a position of a lot of debt. So a recession on top of that debt – even if the tourism industry is rebounding – is going to make it challenging for those tourism operators over the longer term to survive.”


Click to play video: 'Maritimes wrapping up 2022 cruise ship season'

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Maritimes wrapping up 2022 cruise ship season


The President of Tourism HR Canada says another problem is that the industry has lost a significant chunk of its workforce since the pandemic.

“It’s a real significant challenge for the industry for sure,” Philip Mondor says. “Although there is a lot of demand for growth and recovery, we’re hampered by the fact that we do not have enough workers to fill all of the roles we have.”

There were 2.1 million workers pre-pandemic, according to Mondor. That number is now down to 1.67 million workers.

Read more:

‘We need staff’: Halifax hotel owners attend job fair to overcome staff shortage

Scott MacAulay with the Inverary Resort in Cape Breton says his business has had a terrific year and he’s optimistic for the future.

“There’s a pent-up demand for travel,” he says. “People seem to be able to find a way with the product we have in Nova Scotia with the great outdoors and lots of wide-open spaces. People feel comfortable and safe.”

He recommends if a business is struggling to try and adapt to what people are looking for after pandemic years, including offering more outdoor activities all season.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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'This is not inclusion': Canadian hockey parents frustrated as foreign-born kids asked to apply for transfer – CBC.ca

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Mark Donkers of Sarnia, Ont., is your typical hockey-loving Canadian kid. The 11-year-old is proud to play for the under-12 BB Sarnia Sting junior team. 

But while he wears the same jersey as his teammates — the one with the angry bee logo —  Mark was told last month he couldn’t keep playing on the team until he provided more documentation, because he wasn’t born in Canada. 

Mark has been playing hockey for years and the request came a week before a tournament in Kitchener.

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He was born in Mexico and came to Canada with his Mexican-born mother, Adriana Mendoza, when he was a year old. His father is Canadian, and Mark and his mom have been Canadian citizens for more than 10 years. 

But Mark was caught up by a rule of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the Zurich-based governing body of international hockey. The IIHF counts Canada among its 83 member associations. 

The rule requires players of all ages who are in member nations to secure a transfer from their country of birth to the country where they plan to live and play hockey. Without this transfer, players born outside Canada can’t be on the roster of a Canadian team licensed by Hockey Canada. 

Mendoza sees it as a barrier to play — particularly for children from diverse backgrounds — at a time when there’s a push to make the game more inclusive.

“We talk about inclusion, this is not inclusion,” said Mendoza. “This is against certain people from certain countries.” 

Another parent in the Sarnia minor hockey association was tripped up by the same rule.

Harry Chadwick legally adopted his son Harrison from China in 2012 when Harrison was an infant. 

Now 11, Harrison was also told he had to apply for a transfer, a process that requires forms to be filled out and a scan of the player’s passport to be sent to the local hockey organization. From there, the documents are forwarded to the hockey association in the player’s country of birth for approval.

‘Absolutely ridiculous,’ parent says

Like Mendoza, Chadwick said it’s a hoop his son shouldn’t be forced to jump through to play hockey. 

“It’s pretty offensive to be asked to prove citizenship and get a transfer from a foreign country,” said Chadwick. “My son was 16 months old when he left China. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

In response to calls for comment from CBC News, both the IIHF and Hockey Canada provided emailed statements about the transfer rule. 

Harry Chadwick’s son Harrison was legally adopted from China before he turned two years old, but he needs to get a transfer from his country of birth before he can play in a licensed program in Canada. (Andrew Lupton/CBC News)

An IIHF spokesperson said the rule exists to ensure the integrity of the game and establish in writing which governing body a player falls under if they have roots in more than one country. 

“For the integrity of the sport and to respect the rules of law, international transfers are regulated in ice hockey same as in many other team sports, to respect contractual obligations, suspensions and to avoid the circumvention of such,” the statement said. 

A statement from Hockey Canada said that as an IIHF member, it has to follow the transfer rules. 

The statement also said securing a transfer isn’t onerous: A player submits a form and documents, including a scan of the person’s passport, to Hockey Canada through their member hockey branch. The request is processed through an online system and the IIHF said transfers are typically processed in players’ birth country inside of seven days. Also, players under 18 aren’t charged a processing fee.

However, Chadwick said he doesn’t see the sense in making all players born outside Canada get a transfer when only a tiny fraction of children who strap on skates will ever play in high-level international tournaments where player eligibility could become a serious issue. 

“You’re applying a rule that should apply to an Olympic team and imposing it on every hockey player in the country, even a player in Saturday Timbits hockey,” said Chadwick.

However, IIHF spokesperson Martin Merk said in an email to CBC News that it’s hard to predict if and when a player’s home jurisdiction may be called into question later on. He also said where a player is registered and eligible to play can become an issue in competition, even in leagues below the elite level.

 “It’s good if everything has been properly documented,” said Merk.

Both Chadwick and Mendoza said vetting player eligibility should come later, and only for high-level players with the potential to land on national team rosters. They also said it’s wrong children have to worry about being eligible to play while a transfer is being processed.

In the end, both Donkers and Chadwick got their transfers quickly enough that it didn’t keep them off the ice. In Chadwick’s case, the local hockey association worked with Hockey Canada to get an exemption to allow him to play while the transfer was processed. 

Mark Donkers’s transfer came from Mexico, but it didn’t happen until a day before his tournament. 

For both players, the uncertainty and having to scramble was unsettling. 

“I was very shocked that I had to do this,” said Mark Donkers. “I was very stressed out in the moment because I did not want to miss the tournament.”

Syrian born Muhammad Othman feels players born outside of Canada shouldn’t be asked to apply for a transfer from their home country. (Andrew Lupton/CBC News)

Noor Othman has four boys enrolled in hockey, two were born in Lebanon, one in Syria where the family was fleeing civil war. The transfer process was confounding, especially given that she’s an Arabic speaker working to learn English. Chadwick and other parents worked together to understand the rules and fill out the forms. 

Othman’s son Muhammad is 10. He doesn’t like any rule that applies to him but not his Canadian-born teammates. 

“I just want to play and be like the other Sarnia Sting,” he said.

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In The News for Dec. 1: Canada gains on U.S. in permanent resident race – EverythingGP

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Last year, the number of new permanent residents in the U.S. barely budged to 738,199, up slightly from 707,362 in 2020, the year the pandemic began. 

But in Canada, the number soared to more than 405,000 — more than twice the number who arrived in 2020, and still nearly 20 per cent more than in 2019.

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It’s a record that will likely be beaten more than once in the coming years, as a Canadian federal immigration plan released earlier this month aims to admit 465,000 new permanent residents in 2023 and 500,000 a year by 2025, with a particular focus on bringing in people with needed skills and experience.

Business leaders say the government should be even more focused on attracting skilled migrants than it already is, and do more to ensure their credentials and qualifications are recognized. 

Housing is a problem too, with association CEO Jack Jedwab saying Toronto beat out the New York area last year as the most popular destination for new permanent residents. 

Also this …

HIV activists are marking World AIDS Day by urging Ottawa to help stop a global backslide in stopping infections and combating stigma.

The World Health Organization has reported a slowing in the decline of new HIV cases, ever since countries focused their limited health care systems on COVID-19.

There is a rising proportion of cases among women and people who inject drugs in Canada, and Indigenous people accounted for nearly one-fifth of new infections in 2020.

Advocates point out that Canada still criminalizes people for not telling sexual partners that they have HIV, even when prescription drugs make it impossible to transmit the virus.

They argue that the risk of prosecution prevents people from accessing testing and treatment. 

AIDS has killed roughly 40 million people, including 650,000 in 2021

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON _ Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron are celebrating the long-standing U.S.-French relationship _ but these are friends with differences. The French president is using his visit to Washington to sharply criticize aspects of the U.S. president’s signature climate law as a bad deal for Europe.

Biden is set to honour Macron with the first state dinner of his presidency on Thursday evening. First, the two leaders will sit down in the Oval Office for morning talks that officials from both sides said were expected to largely centre on the leaders’ efforts to stay united in their response to Russia’s war in Ukraine and to co-ordinate their approach to an increasingly assertive China.

But ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Macron made clear that he and other European leaders remain deeply concerned about the incentives in a sweeping new climate-related law that favour American-made climate technology, including electric vehicles.

Macron on Wednesday criticized the legislation, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, during a luncheon with U.S. lawmakers and again during a speech at the French embassy. The French president said that while the Biden administration’s efforts to curb climate change should be applauded, the subsidies would be an enormous setback for European companies.

 “The choices that have been made … are choices that will fragment the West,” Macron said at the French embassy. He added that the legislation “creates such differences between the United States of America and Europe that all those who work in many companies (in the U.S.), they will just think, `We don’t make investments any more on the other side of the Atlantic.”’

Separately, at the luncheon with members of Congress from both parties, along with business leaders and diplomats, Macron said that major industrial nations need to do more to address climate change and promote biodiversity.

He criticized a deal reached at a recent climate summit in Egypt in which the United States and other wealthy nations agreed to help pay for the damage that an overheating world is inflicting on poor countries. The deal includes few details on how it will be paid for, and Macron said a more comprehensive approach is needed _ “not just a new fund we decided which will not be funded and even if it is funded, it will not be rightly allocated.”

Speaking after his prepared remarks and without cameras present, Macron took aim at the Inflation Reduction Act, calling the subsidies harmful to French companies and others in Europe, according to a person in the closed-door meeting. The European Union has expressed concern that tax credits in the climate law, including those aimed at encouraging Americans to buy electric vehicles, would discriminate against European producers and break World Trade Organization rules.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

BENGALURU, India _ India officially takes up its role as chair of the Group of 20 leading economies for the coming year Thursday and it’s putting climate at the top of the group’s priorities.

Programs to encourage sustainable living and money for countries to transition to clean energy and deal with the effects of a warming world are some of the key areas that India will focus on during its presidency, experts say. Some say India will also use its new position to boost its climate credentials and act as a bridge between the interests of industrialized nations and developing ones.

The country has made considerable moves toward its climate goals in recent years but is currently one of the world’s top emitters of planet-warming gases.

The G-20, made up of the world’s largest economies, has a rolling presidency with a different member state in charge of the group’s agenda and priorities each year. Experts believe India will use the “big stage” of the G-20 presidency to drive forward its climate and development plans.

The country “will focus heavily on responding to the current and future challenges posed by climate change,” said Samir Sarin, president of the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank. The ORF will be anchoring the T-20 _ a group of think tanks from the 20 member countries whose participants meet alongside the G-20.

Sarin said that India will work to ensure that money is flowing from rich industrialized nations to emerging economies to help them combat global warming, such as a promise of $100 billion a year for clean energy and adapting to climate change for poorer nations that has not yet been fulfilled and a recent pledge to vulnerable countries that there will be a fund for the loss and damage caused by extreme weather.

He added that India will also use the presidency to push its flagship “Mission Life” program that encourages more sustainable lifestyles in the country, which is set to soon become most populous in the world.

When outgoing chair Indonesia formally handed the presidency to India in Bali last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the opportunity to promote the program, saying it could make “a big contribution” by turning sustainable living into “a mass movement.”

India has been beefing up its climate credentials, with its recent domestic targets to transition to renewable energy more ambitious than the goals it submitted to the U.N. as part of the Paris Agreement, which requires countries to show how they plan to limit warming to temperature targets set in 2015.

On this day in 201 …

Canada acted on an American request and arrested a top Chinese tech executive in Vancouver. Meng Wanzhou is the CFO of Huawei Technologies and daughter of the company’s founder. The U.S. wanted her to face allegations of fraud as it says Huawei used unofficial subsidiary Skycom to do business with Iranian telecommunications companies between 2009 and 2014 in violation of sanctions. (Wanzhou was released in September 2021 after reaching an agreement with the US Justice Department.)

In entertainment …

LONDON _ They want money _ that’s what they want, that’s what they want. Well, now the Rolling Stones can say they’re also ON money, the face of a new collectible coin issued by Britain’s Royal Mint to celebrate the band’s 60th anniversary.

The new five-pound coin features a silhouette image of the iconic band performing _ frontman Mick Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, and the late drummer Charlie Watts _ as well as the band’s name in what is described as their classic 1973 font. The mint said it was one of the last coins of the year to be released bearing the image of Queen Elizabeth, who died in September at age 96.

The Rolling Stones were back on the road this year with their 2022 European “Sixty” tour, ending in Berlin in August.

“We are delighted to be honoured by way of an official U.K. coin,” the band said in a statement included in the Royal Mint’s announcement. “Even more significant that the release coincides with our 60th anniversary.”

The new coin is the fifth in the mint’s “Music Legends”’ series, which celebrates legendary British artists. Others so honoured have been Queen, Elton John, David Bowie, and The Who.

While the best things in life are free, as the Stones sang in their cover of the Motown hit “Money (That’s What I Want),” the coins will cost something. Similar coins on the mint’s website from the Music Legends series range from 15 pounds to 465 pounds.

Did you see this?

WINNIPEG _ A 101-year-old message has been discovered by workers removing the base of a former statue in front of the Manitoba legislature.

Workers have been removing, piece by piece, the large base that held a statue of Queen Victoria. The statue was toppled last year by protesters. Its head was removed and thrown in the nearby Assiniboine River. The base is being removed to make way for a replacement.

When crews recently removed one section of the base, they found a broken bottle and a note that had been placed inside. The note was an apology of sorts, dated July 30, 1921, _ an era when alcohol was outlawed.

‘It says, on account of the Prohibition, we are unable to adhere to the custom of depositing a bottle of brandy under the stone, for which we are extremely sorry, I believe is what it says,” Reg Helwer, minister responsible for government services, said Wednesday as he tried to make out the wording on the worn dispatch.

The note is signed by a stonecutter, other workers and a bureaucrat _ the province’s deputy minister of public works at the time.

The government is now working out how to best preserve the document and what should be done with it.

Helwer said it’s not the first time an item from Manitoba’s early days as a province has been discovered unexpectedly.

“Apparently there are things of that nature around the legislature. As we move stones, we do discover things like this,” he said.

“To me, it’s a very neat story, especially with the age of the building, just recently celebrating a hundred years not long ago.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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