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Embattled Venezuelan president thanks Canada for support, asks world for more help restoring democracy – National Post

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OTTAWA – Venezuela’s embattled President Juan Guaidó said Canada’s support has been essential as he tries to take control of his country, but said more still needs to be done to restore democracy in his homeland.

Guaidó is recognized by the international community and by some elected officials inside Venezuela, but he doesn’t have the support of the country’s armed forces or courts, who remain loyal to Nicolás Maduro.

Guaidó arrived in Ottawa on Monday after stops in both London and Paris trying to garner more support from the international community. Speaking through a translator, he acknowledged he could face difficulties returning to his country

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“Everything is a risk in Venezuela,” he said.

He said many of his staff were in hiding as they fear arrest, but it was important to keep fighting for change.

Venezuela has been in an economic and humanitarian crisis for several years, with Maduro’s socialist government leading to hyperinflation, price spikes and shortages of basic goods. Maduro took over from former president Hugo Chavez after his death in 2013. Maduro’s election in 2018 was seen as illegitimate, with opposition leaders jailed during the vote.

Millions of people have fled the country and thousands have been injured or killed in protests.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne continued to call for free and fair elections and for Maduro to step down.

“Make no mistake, the situation has gone from bad to worse, as a direct result of the actions of the Maduro regime,” Champagne said after a meeting with Guaidó on Monday. “We wish to see a peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela.”

Guaidó also met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late in the afternoon and was recognized in the House of Commons after Question Period.

Following the flawed election in 2018, Maduro was encouraged by the international community to hold a new vote, but he refused. The country’s congress elected Guaidó president, using a provision in the nation’s constitution that allows for the president to be replaced. Maduro was also sworn in as president and his government doesn’t recognize Guaidó’s authority as legitimate.


Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó arrives for a photo with Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne in Ottawa on Jan. 27, 2020.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Canada partnered with several South American countries in a new international body called the Lima Group that recognized Guaidó as president and has continued to push for Maduro to step down. Canada is the only G7 member of the Lima Group and has helped drive the effort. Canada also partnered with several of the countries in the Lima Group to call for an investigation of the Maduro regime from the International Criminal Court.

Maduro has said all of the international pressures are an attempt by the United States to instigate a coup in Venezuela. The U.S. is not a member of the Lima Group, but has said it supports its efforts.

Guaidó said Canada’s support has been invaluable to bringing about change.

“We thank the members of the Lima Group deeply. We thank Canada deeply.”

Despite the risk, he said he was travelling to western countries so the people of Venezuela would be heard.

“I am here to speak on behalf of the people of Venezuela who don’t have a voice.”

We thank Canada deeply

He said people inside Venezuela rely on media from outside the country, because there is so much censorship inside the nation’s borders.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and the country was previously prosperous. Guaidó said that has all changed, he said people are starving due to food and water shortages. He said there have also been severe crackdowns on protesters speaking out against the regime and violence has become widespread.

“There have been 18,000 extrajudicial murders in our country.”

Canada’ official travel advisory recommends against any travel to the country.

The federal government has used Magnitsky Act sanctions against 113 members of Maduro’s regime, banning their travel and freezing assets they have in Canada.

Guaidó said they would like to see more sanctions to people who have aided the regime around the world.

“We want to sanction corrupt human rights abusers that have left Venezuela.”

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Last summer, former foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland met with Cuban officials in an attempt to get them to put pressure on the Maduro regime. Champagne said he hopes to continue those efforts, but also plans to keep finding ways to push for change.

“We are going to be engaging not only as the Lima Group, but with others around the world,” he said. “You have to look at the humanitarian crisis going on, we think there will be six million people displaced by the end of the year.”

Champagne said a true settlement to the problem will have to come from the people of Venezuela, but said Canada would continue to be an ally to Guaidó.

“I would like to commend the president for his leadership and his courage.”

• Email: rtumilty@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Conservatives are ‘fearmongering’ over assault-style gun ban: public safety minister

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OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino accuses the Conservatives of “whipping up fear” that the Liberal government is outlawing ordinary long guns and hunting rifles.

In an interview, Mendicino says the government only wants to reinforce a regulatory ban on assault-style firearms like the AR-15 by enshrining a definition in legislation, and it is prepared to work with MPs to get it right.

He insists the government has no intention whatsoever of going after everyday long guns and hunting rifles, calling the notion “Conservative fearmongering.”

In May 2020, the Liberal government announced a ban through order-in-council on over 1,500 models and variants of what it considers assault-style firearms, such as the AR-15 and the Ruger Mini-14.

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The Liberals recently proposed including an evergreen definition of a prohibited assault-style firearm in gun-control legislation being studied by a House of Commons committee.

The Conservatives claim the government’s amendment amounts to the most significant hunting rifle ban in the history of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Joly seeks reprimand of Russian ambassador as embassy tweets against LGBTQ community

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OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has asked her department to summon Russia’s ambassador over social media postings against LGBTQ people.

In recent days, Russia’s embassy in Ottawa has posted on Twitter and Telegram that the West is imposing on Russia’s family values, and arguing that families can only involve a man, a woman and children.

The embassy has posted images of a crossed-out rainbow flag and Orthodox icons of Adam and Eve.

The tweets came as Russia expanded a ban on exposing children to so-called homosexual propaganda, meaning authorities can now prosecute Russians for doing things they argue might entice adults to be gay or transgender.

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Joly’s office says the posts amount to “hateful propaganda” that must be called out and “an attack on the Canadian values of acceptance and tolerance.”

If Global Affairs Canada follows Joly’s request, it will be the third time the department has summoned ambassador Oleg Stepanov this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Work hard and never give up, Michelle O’Bonsawin says during Supreme Court welcome

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OTTAWA — The newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada says her journey has not been an easy one, but it has been meaningful and rewarding.

Members of the legal community and Michelle O’Bonsawin’s fellow judges welcomed her to the bench in a ceremony today.

O’Bonsawin, who replaced the retiring Michael Moldaver on Sept. 1, is a bilingual Franco-Ontarian and an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation.

O’Bonsawin says she is a big believer that if a person has a goal, works hard and never gives up, they can achieve their dreams.

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She adds that while she has made mistakes and fallen down, those missteps have been her teacher.

Richard Wagner, the chief justice of Canada, praises O’Bonsawin’s generosity and volunteer activities, noting she shares his passion for open courts, access to justice and education.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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