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Flying objects raise concerns about Arctic security

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Flying objects raise concerns

Some politicians and researchers say four flying objects that were discovered, tracked and shot down over U.S. and Canadian airspace in recent weeks highlight the need to improve security in Canada’s Arctic.

“It should be a wake-up call for Canadians in general of the woefully inadequate capacity we have in the North in terms of our military capacity,” said Opposition Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon.

“The fact that we rely on the American military to a huge degree is simply a fact of life in the North and that’s something I don’t think a lot of other Canadians would find acceptable.”

A high-altitude surveillance balloon of Chinese origin was taken down by an American fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4 after it flew over Alaska and Canada. China has claimed it was a “civilian airship” conducting meteorological research.

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The following week, three unidentified high-altitude airborne objects were subsequently shot down over Alaska, Yukon and Lake Huron in Michigan. Little information has been released about their capabilities, purpose or origins. Recovery efforts are ongoing.

U.S. and Canadian officials have said they don’t believe the objects posed a direct threat to people on the ground, but could have interfered with commercial air traffic.

Dixon said major players other than Canada have increased their military presence in the Arctic, while China has economic interests in the region.

He said Canada also needs to improve its terrestrial, maritime and aerospace security capacity in the North, which should include establishing a permanent military base, a deep water port in the western Arctic and improving ice breaking capacity.

Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai said that last week he discussed Arctic security issues, including modernizing early warning detection, with other premiers, Defence Department officials and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Investing in communities is also important for Arctic security, he said, pointing to ongoing work in Yukon to construct a fibre optic line and improvements to roadways and the airport in Whitehorse.

“I think it’s time for us to, again as a country, think past election cycles and think about bigger plans so that our country has the appropriate infrastructure in place,” he said.

Pierre Leblanc, a retired colonel and a former commander of Canadian Forces Northern Area, now Joint Task Force North, said successive federal governments have not sufficiently invested in Canada’s defence.

He said has not met the NATO defence spending target of a minimum two per cent of its gross domestic product.

“Canada is recognized as a freeloader on the defence side,” he said.

“There’s an emergency to reverse the trend. We need to invest in the security of Canada.”

Leblanc said there has been increased interest in the Arctic as shipping routes have opened due to melting sea ice and the region has valuable resources, including oil, gas and rare earth metals. He’s also concerned about increasing aggression from China and Russia.

Arctic security has improved, he said, with the deployment of the RADARSAT Constellation — a fleet of Earth observation satellites — and Arctic offshore patrol ships. However, there is no deep sea port in the High Arctic, Canada’s coast guard vessels and naval fleet are aging. A November auditor general report found Ottawa had not addressed long-standing gaps with surveillance of Arctic waters.

“The Arctic is our backyard, if you wish. It’s a beautiful fragile environment and we have a duty to be the stewards of that area,” he said. “We need to understand what’s going on.”

Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies and an associate professor in political studies at the University of Manitoba, said response to the flying objects shows Norad, the North American Aerospace Defence Command, is working but that North America is vulnerable.

“The silver lining to all of this is that Canadians, Americans are waking up to the fact that they have this Norad command,” she said. “I think they’re starting to realize it’s actually the first line of defence for North America.”

Charron said Norad needs to be modernized by updating the North Warning System. There are other gaps in Arctic security beyond defence, such as the lack of housing and reliable internet, and limited transportation infrastructure, she added.

“The Arctic football tends to get kicked down the field often because we’re talking about quite eye-watering amounts of funding,” she said.

Adam Lajeunesse, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security Policy and assistant professor at St. Francis Xavier University, said the Canadian Arctic is not directly at risk, but threats could travel through the region to strategic targets elsewhere in North America.

Greater safety and security concerns in the region, he said, include illegal fishing, trespassing and environmental damage, which have been the focus of the Canadian Armed Forces. He said that’s a more appropriate allocation of resources than defence spending.

The Canadian government has made several funding commitments to improve security in the North. In June, the national defence minister announced $4.9 billion over six years to modernize Norad and long-term plans to invest $38.6 billion over 20 years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2023.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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They were turned away at the Canadian border. Now what? – CBC.ca

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Toddlers ran through aisles filled with snacks and candies. Adults slumped in chairs. Multiple cellphones were plugged into a single wall socket. Backpacks and suitcases were scattered among the two rows of tables in a corner of this small-town bus stop and gas station. 

After they were turned away at the Canadian border and spent three days in detention, the roughly 15 asylum seekers at the Mountain Mart No. 109 in the town of Plattsburgh, N.Y., south of Montreal, on Tuesday afternoon were trying to figure out what to do. 

They had tried to get into the country at the popular unofficial crossing on Roxham Road in the hours after a new border deal between Canada and the U.S. came into effect late last week. 

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Alan Rivas, a Peruvian man who was hoping to reunite with his girlfriend who’s been living in Montreal for two years, said he’d spent $4,000 on making it this far.

“I’m trying to think about what to do now.” 

A sense of solidarity emerged as people recognized each other from various parts of their time stuck on the border, along with a sense of resignation and deep disappointment.

“Disappointing and heartbreaking,” said a man from Central Africa, whom CBC agreed not to identify because he fears it could affect his asylum claim process in the United States.

A man waves at the camera, a Greyhound bus in the background.
Alan Rivas, who is from Peru, was trying to reunite with his partner in Montreal, but was hours too late attempting to cross into Canada at Roxham Road after strict new border rules came into effect at midnight Saturday. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

He had shared a cab ride with a man from Chad, who fled to the U.S. after the government of his country led a violent crackdown on opponents last fall. 

“It’s unfair. We are not home and we suffer. We’re looking for a better life,” the man from Central Africa said.

The man from Chad looked up and said: “No, looking for protection is not having a better life. I had a life.”

The Chadian was not let into Canada despite his wife and child being Canadian citizens, he said. Having a family member with legal status in Canada is one of the few exemptions to the strict new rules that make it nearly impossible to claim asylum at the Canada-U.S. border. His wife and child fled to a nearby country after the crackdown in Chad, but he explained that his wife’s family is still in Canada.

Other exemptions include being an unaccompanied minor and having a work permit or other official document allowing a person to be in Canada. 

“They made me sign a paper without giving me time to read it. They didn’t explain anything,” said the man, whom CBC also agreed not to name because he fears for his family’s safety in an African country near Chad.

The Canada-U.S. deal was implemented swiftly before the weekend, leaving local governments and organizations little time to respond and turned-away asylum seekers struggling to find food, shelter and rides.

A man's hands over a brown Canadian government envelope. A tag with the number 18 on it and a plastic bracelet with numbers.
A man from Chad, who was detained at the Canada-U.S. border for three days, shows the number he was given while waiting to be released back into the United States. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

The man from Central Africa was trying to round up enough money to pay for a $200 bus ticket to Houston, where he would stay with a friend. The man from Chad gave him the $40 he was missing.

The Central African said he had spent his savings on coming to Canada. His hope was to live here until obtaining residency, and then arranging for his family to come to meet him. 

“I know a guy in Houston who hasn’t seen his family in 10 years. He still doesn’t have status,” he said.

A young Haitian mother cradled her baby as her toddler made friends with another child. Her family had paid an acquaintance in New Jersey $300 per adult to get to Roxham Road before midnight Friday, but the driver got lost and they arrived at 12:03 a.m.

Steven, a 24-year-old Venezuelan who attempted to cross into Canada at Roxham early Saturday morning, mingled with the people he’d met in detention. Then he tried to call his mom.

A woman leans her head on a younger man. Both standing outside a gas station.
Carmen Salazar, left, and Steven met in detention at the Canadian border this week. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

“She doesn’t know,” said Steven, who didn’t want his last name used in this story because of fears it could affect his U.S. asylum claim. “I know I seem happy but I am sad.”

Carmen Salazar, 45, also from Venezuela, watched him from another table.

“It’s hard, really hard,” she said.

The group of asylum seekers at the Mountain Mart had found comfort in finding each other. They all boarded a bus leaving Plattsburgh at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. Its main destination was New York City. 

Others haven’t been so lucky finding a way out of Plattsburgh.

The night before, a woman who was seen at Roxham Road early Saturday, sat alone at the bus stop crying.

3 nights in a motel and no plan

Across the street, in a small motel, a 34-year-old Haitian man and his pregnant girlfriend had one night left out of three that had been paid for by local emergency housing services. But they had no plan and only $41 to their name.

“We’re here. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re going to look for ways to be able to live. What I’m looking for — nothing more — is a place to rest and a place to work. Nothing else,” said the man, sitting in the lobby of the motel. CBC is not naming him because of fears it could affect his American asylum claim.

The couple had intended to stay in the U.S. after crossing the Mexican border, but the woman became pregnant and developed constant pains. In the U.S., they had to stay with separate family members far from each other and the man worried about his wife and being able to afford medical bills, so they decided to try to get to Canada, having heard it was easier to find work and that health-care was more affordable, he said.

Steven, 24, and his 21-year-old friend, both from Venezuela, wait for the bus to New York City at the Mountain Mart bus stop and gas station Plattsburgh, NY on Tuesday.
Steven, 24, and his 21-year-old friend, both from Venezuela, wait for a bus to New York City at the Mountain Mart bus stop and gas station Plattsburgh on Tuesday. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

In an interview with Radio-Canada Monday, a man from another Central African country struggled to hold back tears.

He said the confusion after being taken in at Roxham Road by RCMP officers was hurtful because it wasn’t clear if he’d be accepted into Canada or not. When they called his name, he was filled with hope, only to be told he was being sent to U.S. Border Patrol. 

“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know where to go. I don’t have anyone who will take me in,” he said. 

The response from U.S. Border Patrol appears to be uneven. Some asylum seekers CBC spoke with had taxis called for them, having to pay another $70 to get to the Mountain Mart. One woman was found on the side of the service road by the border and given a ride by a social science researcher and documentary photographer met by CBC.

The man interviewed by Radio-Canada was part of a group who were given a ride to the gas station by a Greyhound bus heading back to New York from Montreal. 

CBC reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Monday, asking what happens to asylum seekers rejected by Canada, but did not receive a response.

Luggage sits outside the Mountain Mart bus stop and gas station in the town of Plattsburgh, NY.
Luggage sits outside the Mountain Mart bus stop and gas station in Plattsburgh Tuesday as a group of asylum seekers turned back at the Canadian border wait for a bus to New York City. (Dave St-Amant/CBC)

Although in favour of some kind of change to reduce traffic at Roxham Road, one local official wants help from the federal governments to deal with the fallout. 

Michael Cashman, supervisor for the Town of Plattsburgh, says Canada and the U.S. to come up with a response to help asylum seekers get to where they want to go in the U.S. 

He isn’t against the move to restrict access to Canada at Roxham Road.

“There had to be a change,” he said, noting residents had been asking for one, but compared the way it was done to turning off a light switch before entering a room: “You’re going to bump into some furniture.”

The area is rural and has its share of struggles with transportation and housing, Cashman said. 

“There isn’t a robust infrastructure to be able to take on this humanitarian crisis as it develops.” 

On Monday and Tuesday, buses coming from New York carried only a few asylum seekers hoping to cross the border. Most knew about the new rules, believing their cases would fit some of the exemptions. Others still did not know.

By Tuesday, cab drivers were no longer ferrying people to Roxham Road, taking them to the official border crossing at Champlain, N.Y., and Lacolle, Que., instead.

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What is the grocery rebate in federal budget 2023? Key questions, answered

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Canada’s economy might be recovering from the pandemic, but many Canadians are still struggling with the cost of living, thanks, in part, to the impacts of global inflation.

To help offset rising living expenses, the Government of Canada has built some benefit increases and fee reductions into its 2023 budget. Among these measures is a new grocery rebate in the form of a one-time payment for middle- and low-income Canadians that is designed to offset food inflation.

“Our more vulnerable friends and neighbours are still suffering from higher prices,” Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland said after tabling the budget on March 28. “That’s why our budget contains targeted, temporary relief from the effects of inflation for those who need it.”

Here’s what we know about the rebate.

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HOW WILL THE GROCERY REBATE WORK?

According to the budget, the benefit will be rolled out through the GST/HST rebate system, once a bill implementing it passes in the House of Commons. This move essentially re-ups and re-brands the recent GST rebate boost.

While no specific date for the payments has been announced, upcoming GST/HST credit payment dates for 2023 include April 5, July 5 and Oct. 5. Because the rebate is automatically rolled into the GST/HST credit, eligible Canadians shouldn’t need to do anything besides file their tax return in order to receive the payment.

WHO GETS THE GROCERY REBATE IN CANADA?

The Grocery Rebate is earmarked for 11 million low- to modest-income Canadians. It will provide eligible couples with two children with up to $467, single Canadians without children with up to $234 and seniors with $225 on average.

The budget doesn’t pinpoint any eligibility brackets based on income, but outlines hypothetical scenarios where a couple earning $38,000 per year and an individual earning $32,000 both received the maximum rebate.

Since the rebate will be rolled into the GST/HST credit, the eligibility criteria for that credit might offer some insight into who will be eligible for the maximum Grocery Rebate amounts.

The GST benefit is reduced as income rises. It’s phased out entirely once income reaches just over $49,000 for a single person, $50,000 for a couple without children and more than $60,000 for a couple with four children.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO FEED A FAMILY OF 4 IN CANADA?

The average family of four will spend up to $16,288.41 on food this year, according to the latest Canada’s Food Price Report, published by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University.

“For a family of four, their food bill will increase by about $1,100 this year,” the lab’s director, Sylvain Charlebois, told CTV News Calgary on Tuesday.

The cost of staple grocery items based on March 2023 prices listed on Fortinos.ca. (CTV’s Your Morning)

The most substantial increases will be in the cost of vegetables, dairy and meat, according to the report. Food inflation has softened somewhat in recent weeks, Charlebois said, but even with that softening and the extra cash in their pockets from the grocery rebate, Canadians aren’t out of the woods yet.

“We are expecting things to be a little more manageable for households probably in the summer, (but) not before then,” he said. “We are expecting to finish the year with a food inflation rate of about four to five per cent. It’s still high, but it’s better than 10 per cent.”

HOW CAN I SAVE MONEY ON GROCERIES IN CANADA?

As finance commentator Pattie Lovett-Reid pointed out during an interview on CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday, a maximum grocery rebate of $467 for a family of four doesn’t even offset half of the additional $1,100 families can expect to spend on groceries in 2023.

“It’s a small amount that will help a family of four,” she said. “But, is it enough? No, it’s not, we’ve got to get inflation down.”

With their spending power significantly weakened, a growing number of consumers are looking for new ways to save on their grocery bills.

According to a March 22 report published by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, in partnership with Angus Reid, some of the methods Canadians are using to save money at the grocery store include reading weekly flyers, using coupons, taking advantage of volume discounting and using food rescue apps such as Too Good To Go and the Second Harvest Food Rescue App.

– With files from Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello 

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International selling Pop Reggae artist, D Howell Drops New Single “Man Dem”

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D Howell Drops New Single

D HOWELL 

                                     Drops 

                                “MAN DEM” 

                                 By way of Spanish Town

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Toronto, On – International selling Pop/ Reggae artist, D Howell drops his new single, “Man Dem “available now, on all major music platforms.  The release featuring Ding Dong & Nicky B follows a long list of hit music from the talented pop-reggae artist.  Howell’s single, ’Wine Bounce” with Jamaican born reggae artist Dominant ft. Nick B was picked up by Universal Music, solidifying Howell’s career with the likes of Sean Paul, Elephant Man and Sarani. The artist contributes his Jamaican roots to the success of his brand.  Keeping his early beginnings in Spanish Town, Jamacia close to his heart, “Man Dem” (meaning multiple men) was created.  The single is inspired by the multicultural people of Toronto with special consideration to the immigrants from Jamaica. Their specific style of talking is heard on every street corner in Toronto.  The new generation have made it their own, a way of bringing and keeping their heritage alive.  Howell’s music speaks to that, making the heritage & the music one.  The highly anticipated release of “Man Dem” will take you home to Spanish Town.   

DJ, producer and artist, D Howell knows what it takes to make hit singles.  It’s not just talent that makes a single a hit, but the chemistry & respect for your fellow artists.  Knowing what works and what doesn’t between artists is key.   Mixing different instruments, sounds and styles to create his always evolving pop reggae sound has made Howell an in-demand producer and artist.  From the super hit ‘Jumanji’ to a lineup of multi-selling collaborations featuring his unique reggae influenceHowell makes it work.  Collaborations with Karl Wolf (Fall in Love”), Danny Fernandes (Party”) and the man himself, Sean Paul (Time to Party”).  Howell writes for and brings together a wide range of artists from different genres into his studio to create a combination of sounds that works on the music charts today. D Howell brings the love, nurture & music of his early beginnings to his seat at the industry table.  “Man Dem” takes you on that journey…  

 

Listen to Man Dem” 

https://open.spotify.com/album/7nW1yToUEz2I2OUdZ9jVso?si=DxAcnCwbTNOwkQvwhaFvUA 

 

Follow D Howell: 

https://soundcloud.com/realdhowell/nicky-b-man-dem-clean  

https://www.instagram.com/realdhowell/

https://www.youtube.com/@diamienrecords

https://twitter.com/realdhowell  

Media Inquiries: 

 Sasha Stoltz Publicity: 

 Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804   

 https://www.sashastoltzpublicity.com

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