Chinese spy balloon flight path over Canada: Defence officials reveal route
A Chinese spy balloon that was shot down by American forces earlier this month flew over a Canadian territory and province before re-entering U.S. airspace, defence officials say.
The surveillance balloon unlawfully entered Canadian airspace between Jan. 30 and 31 – just a few days before its discovery was announced by the Pentagon on Feb. 2 while it hovered over the U.S. Midwest, eventually resulting in its takedown off the coast of the Carolinas on Feb. 4.
NORAD – the continental air defence network – began tracking the balloon as it approached U.S. airspace in late January, the Pentagon said earlier this month. It passed north of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands on Jan. 28 and moved largely over land across Alaska and then into Canadian airspace before crossing back into the U.S. over northern Idaho on Jan. 31.
For the first time since its discovery, Canadian defence officials have now revealed its flight path.
“It came down pretty much from Alaska down into Yukon and into central B.C., so pretty much between the border of Alberta and the coast,” Maj. Gen. Paul Prévost, director of staff with Strategic Joint Staff, told MPs sitting on the House of Commons National Defence committee on Friday.
Canadian Armed Forces infrastructure is in the area, but there was no “infrastructure of significance” along the balloon’s flight path, Prévost added.
The U.S. navy and coast guard have been working to recover pieces of the balloon, which was shot down off the coast of South Carolina after flying across the U.S., for analysis. They’re working to determine if it collected any intelligence from either country.
The public announcement of the balloon’s discovery earlier this month sparked outrage in both countries and prompted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a trip to China.
U.S. officials have said China operates a fleet of such balloons, which are a relatively inexpensive and difficult-to-detect method of gathering intelligence. China has claimed responsibility for the balloon but said it was a weather aircraft, not one tied to surveillance or espionage.
The balloon’s discovery also resulted in NORAD adjusting its radar to find similar objects, which led to the shootdown of three unidentified objects over U.S. and Canadian airspace a week later.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday that those objects do not appear to have come from China or any other country, and did not have surveillance capabilities. The search for two of them remains ongoing, while the search for an object that landed in Lake Huron has been called off for now due to poor weather.
Lt. Gen. Alain Pelletier, deputy commander of NORAD, told MPs on Friday the detection, tracking and monitoring of those objects has highlighted some challenges for the defence network.
Due to their small size and slow speed, it has been difficult to detect and track them on radar, and has been challenging to locate them with airborne assets, Pelletier said, adding that NORAD experienced “radar gaps” while tracking the Chinese spy balloon.
“NORAD works every day to improve domain awareness by integrating intelligence and sensor data and reviewing previous data to improve and help us see more,” he said.
“While these objects may not have showcased hostile intent, their proximity to aviation routes, populated areas and sensitive defence infrastructure have raised concerns.”
Pelletier added that the recent events show that the threat to North America has evolved from a northern, long-range aviation approach to a “360-degree threat and from all domains.”
“I believe this is the first time in the history of NORAD that Canada or the U.S. have actually taken kinetic actions against an airborne object in Canadian and American airspace, and it is important that we maintain the necessary capabilities to continue to do so,” he said.
Defence Minister Anita Anand has said the recent developments are an example of the need to modernize NORAD. Over the summer, she announced the federal government would be investing $40 billion over the next 20 years to beef up continental defence.
The financing will focus on five specific areas, Anand said at the time.
Those will include a new northern approaches surveillance system, an Arctic over-the-horizon radar system for early warning radar coverage from the Canada-U.S. border to the Arctic Circle, as well as a polar over-the-horizon radar system to provide early radar coverage.
A new system called “Crossbow” will also see early warning sensors deployed across the country to identify incoming threats, and the modernization of NORAD will also launch a space-based surveillance project to use satellites to probe for threats approaching from around the world.
Jedidiah Royal, the U.S. assistant defence secretary for the Indo-Pacific, told a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee last week that the military has “some very good guesses” about what intelligence China was seeking.
When pressed on what information the balloon was specifically trying to gather, Royal said U.S. officials “are learning more as we exploit the contents of the balloon and the payload itself.”
“We understand that this is part of a broader suite of operations that China is undertaking to try to get a better understanding of the U.S.,” Royal said.
The balloon was spotted over Montana on Feb. 2, which is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information at the time.
Canadian relations with China have been uneasy for several years, intensifying in recent months over allegations of attempts to influence and interfere in Canadian affairs.
— with files from Amanda Connolly
Canada: Fatal stabbing in Vancouver leaves city shaken – Hindustan Times
An Indo-Canadian has been arrested and has been charged with second-degree murder. The victim has been identified by the Vancouver Police Department as 37-year-old Paul Stanley Schmidt
Toronto: The city of Vancouver in British Colombia was left shaken after a person at Starbucks cafe was fatally stabbed, with an Indo-Canadian arrested for that alleged murder.
The incident occurred on Sunday, around 5.40pm and followed a brief altercation outside the outlet between two men.
The victim was identified by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) on Monday as 37-year-old Paul Stanley Schmidt. Meanwhile, Inderdeep Singh Gosal, 32, has been charged with second-degree murder.
Police continue to seek additional witnesses to the crime. “We believe this homicide was witnessed by dozens of bystanders, and there may be people with information who have not yet come forward,” VPD Sergeant Steve Addison said, in a release.
“We particularly want to hear from anyone who was present in the moments before the stabbing, or anyone who has cell-phone video of the incident.”
Investigators don’t believe the victim and suspect knew each other. The release added that the “the circumstances that led up to the fatal stabbing remain under investigation”.
A police constable patrolling the area was flagged down “moments after” the stabbing occurred. The suspect was arrested at the crime scene. Officers attempted to save the victim’s life but he did not survive and succumbed to the injuries sustained after being rushed to hospital.
Raw footage of the incident posted online have gone viral throughout Canada, as they show the victim lying outside the Starbucks, surrounded by his own blood, and also the alleged murderer, walking in and out of the glass doors to the establishment. Another video shows Gosal being arrested and taken into custody by police.
Schmidt was the city’s sixth homicide victim of this year.
The apparent random act of violence attracted criticism of the law and order situation in Vancouver, among the major cities in Canada. Filmmaker Aaron Gunn tweeted, “Things are not getting better. They are still getting worse.”
Is femicide in Canada's Criminal Code? – CTV News
Advocates are pushing for the term femicide to be added to Canada’s Criminal Code, saying it would help raise awareness on the issue.
In 2020, a report by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability found that one woman or girl is killed every two and a half days in Canada. Femicide refers to homicides that target women and girls because of their gender.
Understanding the violence females face specifically, advocates are hoping for more awareness of femicide at the federal level.
“It’s really important that we name femicide,” Jennifer Hutton, CEO of Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, Ont, told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday. “There are some unique traits about femicide. It’s really about men’s violence against women.”
Hutton believes femicide should be in the Criminal Code to prevent tragedies through better understanding.
“Until we name it, then how can we change it?” she said.”When it’s a separate part of the Criminal Code, then we have better data to track it, so we know just how prevalent it really is.”
Femicide can include instances when a woman or girl is killed by an intimate partner, a non-intimate partner, or in an armed conflict. The term can also include women who are not the intended victim, but are killed in the femicide of another woman, too.
For Indigenous women and girls, Hutton says they are killed at six times the rate of non-Indigenous women and girls.
Hutton is partnering with Jenna Mayne, who hosts the podcast “She is Your Neighbour” focusing on femicide in Canada.
“We hear from survivors, we hear from family members who have lost women to femicide, and we hear from experts,” Mayne said. “I think these stories are difficult to hear, but they’re so important to hear too.”
To listen to the full interview click the video at the top of this article.
Grocery rebate coming in federal budget 2023
The 2023 federal budget will include a one-time “grocery rebate” for Canadians with lower incomes who may be struggling with the rising cost of food, CTV News has confirmed.
According to sources, the new measure will be unveiled in Tuesday’s federal budget and will help nearly 11 million lower-income Canadians.
The new measure would see eligible couples with two children receive a payment of up to $467, a senior would receive $225, while a single person would receive $234 dollars.
The benefit will be rolled out through the GST rebate system, once a bill implementing it passes in the House of Commons, according to sources. This move is essentially re-upping and re-branding the recent GST rebate boost.
The amounts expected to be offered are exactly what the Liberals offered through last fall’s doubling of the GST credit, a boost that was estimated to cost $2.5 billion and got all-party backing. It’s not expected that there will be a requirement to spend the rebate on groceries.
According to Statistics Canada’s latest inflation report, food prices rose 11.4 per cent year-over-year in January, nearly double the rate of inflation of 5.9 per cent and up from 11 per cent the previous month.
The increased cost of food has been the focus of a parliamentary study that’s seen grocery CEOs, including Loblaw chairman and president Galen Weston, grilled over grocery profits.
“I’ve been talking with Canadians from coast, to coast, to coast over the past many months hearing directly concerns around affordability, around the high cost of food, of rent, of so many different things. That’s why a big part of the budget will be focused on measures to help Canadians in targeted ways,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Parliament Hill on Monday.
“Groceries will certainly be part of it but, there’s other things as well that we’re going to continue to do to be there for Canadians…I look forward to a great budget tomorrow.”
The NDP had been calling for the Liberals to double the GST tax credit. Reacting to the news, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said this measure “looks very much like… what we’ve been asking for, for a long time.”
Both Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland have been hinting for weeks that the 2023 budget would include targeted affordability measures to directly help those feeling the pinch of inflation the most.
“This support will be narrowly focused and fiscally responsible. The truth is, we can’t fully compensate every single Canadian for all of the effects of inflation or for elevated interest rates,” Freeland said last week in a pre-budget speech signalling her priorities. “To do so would only make inflation worse and force rates higher, for longer.”
On Monday afternoon, the finance minister took part in a long-standing tradition of picking out a new pair of shoes to wear on budget day.
This year, Freeland opted for a pair of black heels that were on sale at Canadian retailer Simons, from the store’s in-house brand. She placed them in a reusable tote bag after purchase.
WHAT ELSE TO EXPECT IN BUDGET 2023?
With the economy expected to continue slowing in the months ahead, potentially leading to a recession, Freeland is facing calls for the massive fiscal document to include a plan to promote economic growth.
Amid Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes, inflation cooled to 5.2 per cent in February. That’s down from 5.9 per cent in January, after 40-year record highs over the summer, reaching 8.1 per cent in June.
“What Canadians want right now is for inflation to come down and for interest rates to fall. And that is one of our primary goals in this year’s budget: not to pour fuel on the fire of inflation,” Freeland said in her pre-budget positioning speech.
At the same time, she signalled the 2023 federal budget will still be prioritizing “two significant and necessary investments”: the $46.2 billion in new funding included in the $196 billion federal-provincial health-care funding deals, and new measures to boost Canada’s clean industrial economy.
It’s the latter that government officials have signalled will get some attention in tomorrow’s budget, with several news outlets reporting there will be sizable—30 per cent, according to Reuters— new clean technology-focused tax credits to generate growth in the electrical vehicle supply chain and in critical mineral extraction and processing.
The November 2022 fall economic update had telegraphed that these kinds of credits and investments were ahead.
“Tomorrow…we’re bringing forward a budget that is focused on affordability and supporting Canadians… and creating great jobs for the middle class in a clean and growing economy. Those are the focuses that we’ve been laser focused on over the past many years,” Trudeau said in the House of Commons on Monday, fresh off of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit, where the green economy was a central piece of discussion.
Canada’s clear focus on the clean transition comes in part out of a need for these sectors to remain competitive in the face of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which offers billions of dollars in energy incentives south of the border.
The Canadian Press has also reported that Tuesday’s budget will include an increase to the withdrawal limit for a registered education savings plan (RESP) from $5,000 to $8,000; and a plan to go after hidden or unexpected consumer fees known as “junk fees” that inflate the overall cost of a product or service.
Finance Canada officials, who for some time have been parsing the stacks of pre-budget submissions from various industries and sectors, will also have to factor in the Liberals’ commitments to the New Democrats, with key planks of the two-party confidence deal due to come to fruition this year.
“We still want to see confirmation of the dental care expansion to include seniors, people living with disabilities and kids 18 and under. We really want this budget to save money for people, and that’s something really important for us,” Singh said.
With this budget, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has called on the federal government to lower taxes, end “inflationary” spending, match new spending with savings, and improve housing affordability.
“He wants to take away everybody’s money, centralize it in his own hands, and promise that it will trickle down through his mighty bureaucracy… And there will maybe be a few little drops that get down to the people who actually earned it in the first place,” Poilievre levelled at the prime minister during Monday’s question period. “Will he cap government spending and put an end to the inflationary deficits, tomorrow?”
The fall economic statement issued in November 2022 projected the federal deficit at $36.4 billion in 2022-23, down from the $52.8 billion forecast in the April 2022 federal budget. Freeland also forecasted that federal coffers could be back to balance by 2027-28.
The 2023 federal budget is coming just ahead of a two-week break in the House of Commons, allowing Liberal MPs to then descend on their ridings to promote it to their constituents before coming back to the capital to work on getting the budget implementation legislation passed through the minority Parliament.
With files from CTV News’ Chief Political Correspondent Vassy Kapelos, and CTVNews.ca’s Michael Lee and Spencer Van Dyk
Emotional Bianca Andreescu leaves court in wheelchair after injury at Miami Open – Yahoo Canada Sports
First Citizens acquires troubled Silicon Valley Bank – CP24
Player grades: Edmonton Oilers survive scrambly affair in Arizona, pull out 5-4 win – Edmonton Journal
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Search for life on Mars accelerates as new bodies of water found below planet’s surface
News16 hours ago
Grocery rebate coming in federal budget 2023
Tech13 hours ago
Is Shimano about to ditch derailleur hangers? Patent reveals direct-mount derailleur design
Health13 hours ago
Respiratory Outbreak Over: Jasper Place – Thunder Bay District Health Unit
Real eState17 hours ago
JPMorgan says commercial real estate decline is intensifying. Beware these exposed stocks
Sports14 hours ago
Maple Leafs clinch playoff berth with Panthers loss to Senators
Tech15 hours ago
Warner Bros brawler Multiversus to go offline in June 2023
Sports15 hours ago
Canadian Bianca Andreescu retires from Miami Open match after suffering injury
Investment14 hours ago
Sen. Bob Casey oversaw Pa. pension investment in China-linked firm