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China lodges complaint with Canada over Trudeau's 'coercive diplomacy' remarks – CBC.ca

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China said on Wednesday it has lodged solemn representations with Canada on media reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had criticized China over its measures in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Trudeau criticized Beijing’s human rights record while marking the 50th anniversary of Canada’s diplomatic ties with China.

“We will continue to work with China for advancing Canadian interests and Canadian producers. At the same time, we will remain absolutely committed to working with our allies to ensure that China’s approach of coercive diplomacy, its arbitrary detention of two Canadian citizens, alongside other citizens of other countries around the world is not viewed as a successful tactic by them,” he said.

“It has put a significant strain on Canada-China relations and we will continue to highlight our concern for the Canadians detained, our concern for the protection of human rights in places like Hong Kong, in Xinjiang province with the Uighurs.”

Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said the Canadian government had shown hypocrisy and weakness.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

French doctors expressed relief but business owners were in despair as France prepared Thursday to shut down again for a month to try to put the brakes on a fast-moving fall outbreak.

The new lockdown is gentler than what France saw in the spring, but still a shock to restaurants and other non-essential businesses that have been ordered to close their doors in one of the world’s biggest economies. French schools will stay open this time, to reduce learning gaps and allow parents to keep working. Farmers markets, parks and factories can also continue operating, officials said.

French lawmakers are voting Thursday on the new restrictions announced by President Emmanuel Macron, which are set to come into effect at midnight. The lower house of parliament is dominated by Macron’s centrist party, so approval is virtually guaranteed. The prime minister will lay out details of the virus-fighting plan Thursday evening.

A nurse holds the hand of a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at the Joseph Imbert Hospital Center in Arles, southern France on Wednesday. (Daniel Cole/The Associated Press)

Dr. Eric Caumes, head of the infectious and tropical disease department at Paris’s Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, said Thursday on BFM television that the new restrictions are “an admission of failure” of the government’s prevention efforts. He urged tougher restrictions.

The head of France’s main business lobby MEDEF, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, said on Europe-1 radio Thursday that “shutting businesses that are not responsible for contamination is a mistake” that could drive many into bankruptcy. He claimed it was a gift to internet retailer Amazon, “the big winner from confinement.”

COVID patients now fill 60 per cent of French intensive care units, and France is reporting tens of thousands of new cases daily.


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | COVID-19 cases overwhelm rural Russian hospitals:

Rural regions of Russia, already poorly resourced, are taking the brunt of the latest wave of COVID-19 cases. Many hospitals are running out of room and supplies for new patients, and morgues are overflowing. 1:59

A database maintained by Johns Hopkins University put the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported around the world since the pandemic began at more than 44.5 million as of Thursday morning, with more than 30 million of those listed as recovered. The death toll reported by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.1 million.

Concern about a resurgent virus was mounting across Europe. Germany’s disease control agency said local health authorities reported 16,774 new positive tests for COVID-19 in the past day, pushing the country’s total since the start of the outbreak close to the half million-mark. The Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, which has been tracking coronavirus cases in Germany, also recorded 89 additional deaths, taking the country’s total in the pandemic to 10,272, a number that is one-fourth the death toll in Britain, a country with about 16 million fewer people.

“The winter will be difficult, four long, difficult months. But it will end,” Merkel told lawmakers. “We have already seen over the past eight months how we can learn and help each other.”

 In Belgium, the number of patients in hospitals is now higher than during the first wave of the coronavirus crisis. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo promised tougher measures across the nation to avoid a breakdown of the country’s health system.

In the Americas, Argentina’s COVID-19 fatalities rose above 30,000, another grim milestone for a country now battling one of the world’s highest daily death tolls.

An election worker delivers mail-in ballots on Wednesday to workers who will examine and verify the ballots to prepare them for tabulation at the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorders’ mail-in ballot processing center at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

The White House coronavirus task force warned of a persistent and broad spread of COVID-19 in the western half of the United States and urged aggressive mitigation measures.

“We are on a very difficult trajectory. We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the task force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci noted that coronavirus cases are rising in 47 states and patients are overwhelming hospitals across the country.

With less than a week before the U.S. election and with thin margins between the two presidential candidates in several battleground states, President Donald Trump held a pair of in-person campaign rallies in Arizona on Wednesday despite a surge in COVID-19 cases and criticism he is prioritizing his re-election over the health of his supporters.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan has hit 200 days without any domestically transmitted cases of COVID-19, highlighting the island’s continued success at keeping the virus under control even as cases surge in other parts of the world. Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control last reported a domestic case on April 12. CDC officials noted Thursday’s milestone and thanked the public, urging them to continue to wear masks and to wash their hands often.

Pakistani authorities have ordered all businesses, including restaurants, wedding halls and markets be closed after 10 p.m. to contain a coronavirus resurgence that began this month. The government Thursday reported some of its highest single-day totals, more than 900 new cases and 16 deaths. The numbers are almost double those reported some days last month.

A spokesperson for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Wednesday he’s in quarantine after contact with a dinner guest who has tested positive for the coronavirus. South Africa, the hardest- hit country in Africa, reported an average of 2.79 cases per 100,000 people for the week ending Tuesday.

In the Middle East, state television in Iran said on Wednesday that one person is dying from COVID-19 every three minutes, as the health ministry reported a record daily toll of 415 fatalities.


What’s happening in Canada 

WATCH | COVID-19: What’s working in schools and what’s not?

Two infectious disease specialists answer questions about COVID-19 and what’s been done to keep schools safe, whether the protocols are working or if the restrictions have gone too far. 5:56

As of 7 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 225,586 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 26,687 of those active. Provinces and territories listed 188,867 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,032.

British Columbia reported 287 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths on Wednesday. Provincial health officials, who recently tightened up restrictions on in-home gatherings, said there were 87 people in hospital, with 25 in intensive care.

In Alberta, health officials said that 70 inmates and 70 staff members at the Calgary Correctional Centre have tested positive for COVID-19.

Drinking alcohol is being restricted at Saskatoon nightclubs after multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at some locations in the city. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is putting a cork in the consumption of alcohol between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. as of Friday. Saskatchewan, which has 20 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including six in ICU, reported 67 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.

Manitoba‘s chief public health officer says the province is not seeing the results it expected from restrictions in the Winnipeg region, so tighter rules could be on the way. Dr. Brent Roussin said Wednesday some people are still gathering for social occasions and having a large number of contacts. The province reported 170 new cases and three new deaths.

Ontario reported 834 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. As of Wednesday, there were 312 in hospital, with 71 in ICU, the province said.  In York Region, which along with Toronto, Peel and Ottawa are under tighter restrictions, health officials said there were 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding events held in Vaughan.

In Quebec, a group of gym owners threatened to defy lockdown orders and open their doors backed off that plan after the province said clients could also be fined. “If we have to be severe with people who go to the gym when it is not allowed, we will be ready to do so,” Quebec deputy premier Geneviève Guilbault said.

WATCH | Gym owners, patrons frustrated by renewed COVID-19 closures:

Despite Manitoba’s surge in COVID-19 cases, gyms remain open in most of the province even though the facilities are closed in Ontario and Quebec. Gym owners and patrons are increasingly frustrated and want to know why they’re paying more to contain the pandemic than other jurisdictions. 1:57

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick saw three new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with two in the Fredericton area and one in the Campbellton area. There were no new cases reported in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador

Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Yukon and Nunavut. In the Northwest Territories, health officials said a presumptive positive COVID-19 case announced earlier this week was confirmed positive.

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UPS executive granted special ministerial exemption from Canada's COVID-19 quarantine – CBC.ca

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The president of U.S. operations for global shipping giant UPS was granted a special ministerial exemption from Canada’s mandatory 14-day COVID-19 quarantine, a CBC News investigation has learned, which he used to lobby Ontario employees to accept the company’s new contract offer.

Nando Cesarone travelled from Atlanta to Toronto for three days of meetings starting Oct. 19.

The company says Cesarone sought and received an authorization for a conditional exemption from mandatory quarantine from Global Affairs Canada.

It’s a decision that the Teamsters, the union representing UPS workers in Canada, finds mystifying.

“We don’t understand why Mr. Cesarone was allowed to come into Canada and why the government waived his 14-day quarantine requirement,” said Christopher Monette, public affairs director for Teamsters Canada.

“We believe the government needs to explain itself on that one. It’s absolutely crucial.”

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has granted 191 such quarantine exemptions on “business mobility” grounds since the pandemic began — 138 of them over the past six weeks, a spokesperson said. Permission to skip the self-isolation requirement is given only under “exceptional circumstances,” the department said, and applicants must “thoroughly justify the immediacy of their purpose of travel to Canada.”

Global Affairs refused to discuss Cesarone’s exemption, citing the federal Privacy Act. 

Cesarone declined interview requests, and UPS did not respond to written questions about the exact reasons for his trip or why the meetings couldn’t be conducted remotely. 

Nando Cesarone, president of U.S. operations for UPS, travelled from Atlanta to Toronto in October and spent three days meeting with Canadian employees. The company says he sought and received an authorization for a conditional exemption from mandatory quarantine from Global Affairs Canada. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

But in a statement to CBC News, the company noted that UPS is an essential service, responsible for delivering needed supplies to Canadian businesses and consumers — including personal protective equipment and “hopefully vaccines soon.” 

Cesarone observed “every regulatory and safety protocol” and followed a detailed COVID-19 “risk mitigation plan,” which included wearing a mask, physical distancing and testing, while in the country, the company said.

However, two employees who met with Cesarone dispute the company’s characterization of the trip and his health precautions, telling CBC News that the meetings “were 100 per cent about labour” and that on at least one occasion, the UPS executive removed his mask so that he could be better heard in a crowded room. The employees asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions.

Visit raises issues of transparency, safety: union

Teamsters Canada says that Cesarone’s visit, which included stops at facilities in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., raises issues of transparency on the part of the company and the federal government, as well as concerns about workplace safety.

“What’s important for us is that everybody is just playing by the same set of pandemic rules,” Monette said. “Just out of respect for the health, the safety of UPS drivers and UPS workers in general — who are, at the end of the day, essential front-line workers.”

Voting on the new labour agreement at UPS began on Oct. 22, and the results are expected to be released on Nov. 2.

Trucks at the Peace Bridge, between Fort Erie, Ont., and Buffalo, N.Y., in September. The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travellers since March 21. But 3.5 million people — essential workers such as truckers and health-care providers — have been excused from quarantine. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/The Associated Press)

Officially, Canada’s border has been closed to non-essential travellers since March 21. But according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 4.6 million people have entered the country over the past seven months. Some 1.1 million, mostly Canadian citizens returning from abroad, were obliged to self-isolate for 14 days. The other 3.5 million — essential workers such as truckers, technicians and health-care providers — were excused from quarantine. 

Over the past month, CBC News has uncovered two instances where senior U.S. executives flew into the country on private jets and were granted exemptions by front-line Canada Border Services Agency officers for non-essential meetings and facility tours — cases that Ottawa now calls errors.

But the growing number of special ministerial exemptions has opposition politicians again wondering why Canada’s supposedly closed border appears so porous at a time when COVID-19 cases are spiking around the globe.

Opposition parties question need for visits

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole raised the issue in question period in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

“Last month we learned the Liberal government allowed two different American billionaires to enter Canada, and they waived the quarantine rules,” O’Toole said, going on to ask if there is “one set of rules for the rich friends of this government and one set of rules for everyone else?”

WATCH | Federal party leaders spar over COVID-19 quarantine exemptions:

During question period in the House of Commons, Opposition leader Erin O’Toole grilled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about quarantine exemptions for business executives as reported by CBC News. 1:24

Jack Harris, the MP for St. John’s East and the NDP’s public safety critic, questions why it was necessary for Cesarone to travel to Canada at all.

“You know, we conduct parliament by Zoom. We do meetings though Zoom…. I don’t see the necessity to have some special exemption like this”, Harris said.

“I can’t go to Ottawa and come back to St. John’s, Newfoundland, without a [provincial] 14-day exemption. We have workers from Newfoundland doing the same thing, coming back to work and having to have a 14-day quarantine here.”

Harris is calling on the Liberal government to share more details about which foreign visitors are being granted exemptions from quarantine and why.

“This idea of behind-closed-doors, non-transparent ministerial exemptions, where you have to dig around to find out why it’s happening, that’s not fair to Canadians,” he said. “And I don’t think Canadians would accept that as fair and reasonable.”  

The federal government has recently begun to relax border restrictions and grant entries on compassionate grounds, allowing more foreign citizens and Canadians who live abroad to reunite with romantic partners or visit sick or dying relatives. 

As of Tuesday, Health Canada had received 2,250 such applications and exempted 1,335 people from all, or part, of the 14-day quarantine for what the government decided were compelling personal reasons. Another 630 people were allowed into the country, but forced to self-isolate for the full two weeks.   

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Family members of PS752 victims report receiving threats for speaking out against Iranian regime – CBC.ca

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Canadians who lost loved ones when Iran shot down Flight PS752 earlier this year have been reporting an increasing number of threats warning them against criticizing Iran’s response to the disaster.

“These are ugly, insidious crimes, apparently orchestrated at the behest of a foreign power. That is something that would be disturbing to every Canadian,” said former MP Ralph Goodale who is acting as Canada’s special adviser to the government on the incident.

Goodale says two cases of intimidation and harassment were reported to police in the spring. The number of such incidents of which authorities are aware has now increased to 11, he said. RCMP, local police and security organizations are working with Canada’s allies around the world and taking the threats seriously, Goodale added.

Hamed Esmaeilion lost his nine-year-old daughter Reera and wife Parisa when PS752 was shot down by the Iranian military over Tehran on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people aboard. He’s the spokesperson representing an association of victims’ families in Canada seeking justice and he said he has been receiving hateful messages for months.

‘Let’s talk about the last moments of your wife and daughter’

But the situation escalated after a rally he held on Parliament Hill on Oct. 5, he said.

A suspicious vehicle loitered outside his house that night, pulling up in front of his driveway and then backing up, Esmaeilion said. He also reported receiving a suspicious phone call on Oct. 5 from someone who left a message saying, “Let’s talk about the last moments of your wife and daughter.”

Esmailion said he blocked the number but received a threat in Farsi through his Instagram account later the same day: “Your name is on a list of terror, so enjoy your life before you get killed. And you would be a lesson for out of country traitors.”

Esmailion said he met with RCMP on Friday and was told to keep a record of further calls.

“It doesn’t scare me, honestly,” he told CBC. “This is something we have been through since the beginning and especially in the month of May and June … That was, I think, the peak of insulting and hateful messages that I received.”

He said he believes the messages are coming both from Iran and Canada but he has no idea whether they’re from representatives of the Iranian regime or just from its supporters.

Mahmoud Zibaie, who also lost his wife and daughter when PS752 was shot down, told CBC News that he received a call from someone identifying themselves as the chief investigator of the military court in Iran dealing with the lawsuit for compensation launched against the regime.

Mahmoud Zibaie’s wife Shahrzad Hashemi, left and daughter Maya Zibaie, both perished on flight PS752. (Submitted)

Zibaie said the caller told him that he needed to return to Iran to participate in the suit for compensation. He said the compensation is low down on the list of what he wants from Iran.

“In some sense, I can say that I can regard it as a threat because he … kept telling me that, ‘Okay, we have to see each other. You have to get back to Iran. You have to come here and you have to launch a lawsuit,'” he said.

Zibaie said he plans to share the audio of that call with the RCMP.

Javad Soleimani of Edmonton lost his wife on the flight. He said he is not taking the threats seriously because he has no family left in Iran but worries about those with family back home who could be targets for harassment or persecution.

“These threats and families harassment, actually, have been something ongoing from the very beginning,” Soleimani told CBC News. “From hijacking the funeral routine, writing congratulations on your martyrdom on the coffins, and also … detaining some family members in Iran.”

Javad Soleimani and his wife, Elnaz Nabiyi, who was killed when Iran shot down flight PS752. (Submitted photo)

“It’s I think it’s a national threat to Canada,” he said. “I think the only way to deal with these intimidation or threats or concerns for families is that the Canadian government more publicly support families of victims.”

Goodale said the federal government is taking the threat very seriously.

“It is an offence against Canada, It is a crime under the Criminal Code, and foreign interference attacks the very sovereignty and integrity of our country. So it is indeed treated with gravity it deserves,” he said.

The RCMP issued a statement today saying that it is “aware of allegations of intimidation of the grieving families of the PS752 and we take such complaints seriously.”

“While we cannot comment on individual cases, Canadians and all individuals living in Canada, regardless of their nationality, should feel safe and free from criminal activity,” said the statement.

Watch: Families of Flight 752 victims report threats from Iran:

Loved ones of Canadians and permanent residents who died in the crash of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, say they’ve received a growing number of threats believed to be from Iran and inside Canada. 2:04

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