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Chinese Canadians, health officials taking stand against 'unfair stigmatization' during coronavirus outbreak –



Amid growing fears around the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese Canadians and public health officials in Toronto say more must be done to avoid a recurrence of the racism and xenophobia experienced during the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Toronto Mayor John Tory, medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa and the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice (CCNC-SJ) were among those who addressed those concerns at a news conference Wednesday.

Amy Go, interim president of the CCNC-SJ, called for a renewed effort to prevent “undue and unfair stigmatization” and the spread of panic during the outbreak.

“We are being singled out, we are being stigmatized because of the coronavirus,” said Go.

Tory added that he has been particularly troubled by the spread of misinformation and advice that Chinese Canadians should be avoided or quarantined during the outbreak.

“This type of thinking is wrong, it is entirely inconsistent with the advice of our health-care professionals,” he said, before voicing his solidarity with Toronto’s large Chinese community.

“We stand with them at this time as we always do, and we always will.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory, flanked by city councillors and Chinese Canadian community leaders, called on residents to stop spreading misinformation around the coronavirus outbreak. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Health officials say risk remains low

Public health officials have confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus in Canada, both of them in Toronto. However, experts say the risk to the public remains low.

“We know that inaccurate information, misinformation, continues to spread. And this is creating unnecessary stigma against members of our community,” said de Villa.

“This is deeply concerning and it is truly disappointing.”

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam pointed to discrimination against Chinese Canadians during the 2003 SARS outbreak as a chapter in Toronto’s history to avoid repeating. She recalled Chinese Canadians being shunned and businesses losing customers due to unfounded fears.

She said that phenomenon may represent a greater risk than the illness itself.

“There will probably be more harm caused by racism, xenophobia, discrimination, harassment, racial taunts directed specifically toward the Chinese Canadian community and others of Asian descent than will be caused by the coronavirus,” she said.

Thousands of parents in York Region, a suburban district north of Toronto with a large Chinese population, recently signed a petition demanding the local school board ban students from school for 17 days if their families had recently visited China.

York Region District School Board chair Juanita Nathan warned parents of demonstrating “inadvertent racism” by making assumptions about certain students and their families.

The Greater Toronto Area is home to more than 630,000 people of Chinese descent, according to the latest census information from Statistics Canada gathered in 2016.

The new coronavirus has killed 132 people in China and infected more than 6,000 others. The total number of confirmed cases has surpassed the 2003 SARS outbreak but the death toll is lower.

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Trudeau says he discussed border with Biden, but no deal



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.

U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel in light of COVID-19 that was first imposed in March 2020 and renewed on a monthly basis since then. The border measures do not affect trade flows.

The border restrictions have choked off tourism between the two countries. Canadian businesses, especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying the Liberal government to relax the restrictions.

Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.

Trudeau, speaking after a Group of Seven summit in Britain, said he had talked to Biden “about coordinating measures at our borders as both our countries move ahead with mass vaccination.” Canada is resisting calls for the border measures to be relaxed, citing the need for more people to be vaccinated.

The United States is ahead of Canada in terms of vaccination totals.

“We will continue to work closely together on moving forward in the right way but each of us always will put at the forefront the interests and the safety of our own citizens,” Trudeau told a televised news conference when asked the Biden conversation.

“Many countries, like Canada, continue to say that now is not the time to travel,” Trudeau added, though he said it is important to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.


(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Man with 39 wive dies in India



A 76-year-old man who had 39 wives and 94 children and was said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in north east India, the chief minister of his home state said.

Ziona Chana, the head of a local Christian sect that allows polygamy, died on Sunday, Zoramthanga, the chief minister of Mizoram and who goes by one name, said in a tweet.

With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33.

Winston Blackmore, the head of a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, has around 150 children from 27 wives – 178 people in total.

Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.

The sect, named “Chana”, was founded by Ziona’s father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families. Ziona married his first wife when he was 17, and claimed he once married ten wives in a single year.

They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

Despite his family’s huge size, Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.

“I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” he said.

“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”


(Reporting by Alasdair Pal and Adnan Abidi in New Delhi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Huawei CFO seeks publication ban on HSBC documents in U.S. extradition case



Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Monday will seek to bar publication of documents her legal team received from HSBC, a request opposed by Canadian prosecutors in her U.S. extradition case who say it violates the principles of open court.

Meng’s legal team will present arguments in support of the ban in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran and potentially causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions on business in Iran.

She has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than two years and fighting her extradition to the United States. Meng has said she is innocent.

Lawyers for Huawei and HSBC in Hong Kong agreed to a release of the documents in April to Meng’s legal team on the condition that they “use reasonable effort” to keep confidential information concealed from the public, according to submissions filed by the defense on Friday.

Prosecutors representing the Canadian government argued against the ban, saying in submissions filed the same day that “to be consistent with the open court principle, a ban must be tailored” and details should be selectively redacted from the public, rather than the whole documents.

A consortium of media outlets, including Reuters News, also opposes the ban.

The open court principle requires that court proceedings be open and accessible to the public and to the media.

It is unclear what documents Huawei obtained from HSBC, but defense lawyers argue they are relevant to Meng’s case.

Meng’s hearing was initially set to wrap up in May but Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes granted an extension to allow the defense to read through the new documents.

Hearings in the extradition case are scheduled to finish in late August.


(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Howard Goller)

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