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Foreign interference: Johnston recommends public hearings




A public process is required on the issue of foreign interference, special rapporteur David Johnston says, but not in the form of a public inquiry.

Instead, Johnston announced Tuesday that he plans to hold “a series of public hearings with Canadians” to shine more light on the “problem of foreign interference” and inform the public and policymakers on the threat it poses, and ways to address it with urgency.

After months of political scrutiny from an opposition united in their calls for an independent and open airing of the facts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come out in full support of Johnston’s decision to sidestep an inquiry, continuing to assert his government has, and will continue to handle the issue with the seriousness it deserves.


“Foreign governments are undoubtedly attempting to influence candidates and voters in Canada,” Johnston writes in his first report in the role of special rapporteur. “Much has been done already, but considerably more remains to be done to strengthen our capacity to resist foreign interference.”

Rather than advising the federal government to strike a public inquiry and appoint someone else to lead it, the former governor general intends to do the work himself in the five remaining months of his mandate.

During these hearings Johnston says he plans to speak to and hear from Canadians — particularly those in diaspora communities — as well as current and former government officials, knowledgeable experts, and “other interested parties” about foreign interference and ways to improve Canada’s response to it.

“This will be a public process, but not a public inquiry, as I do not need the subpoena powers provided by the Inquiries Act to gather this information and encourage public attention on these matters,” Johnston wrote in his report.

Speaking to reporters following the report’s release, Johnston acknowledged his conclusion would be met with skepticism by some, but said the challenge is that what allowed him to determine whether there has been interference “cannot be disclosed publicly,” Johnston said. “A public review of classified intelligence simply cannot be done.”

Johnston said his conclusion that a public inquiry is unnecessary was informed by speaking to dozens of high-level federal officials both in PMO and the public service, cabinet ministers and MPs, as well as examining first-hand thousands of pages of classified and unclassified documents. Trudeau sat down to speak to Johnston as part of this work, on May 9 after much of his information had been collected — timing Johnston said was “intentional.”

And while there appears to be a “lack of accountability” around who receives certain pieces of intelligence that needs addressing, despite what Johnston characterized as “too much posturing, and ignoring facts in favour of slogans,” he said he couldn’t identify any instances of the prime minister negligently failing to take the issue seriously.

As a result, he said a public inquiry at this stage would “not advance the goals of transparency or trust any further than I have taken them, and raise expectations that will ultimately be disappointed.”

Johnston’s intention with the hearings is not to focus on “who knew what and what did they do about it” because he feels these questions are covered in this initial public report, as well as a confidential annex provided to the prime minister, cabinet, and security-cleared opposition party officials.

Johnston was tapped in March by Trudeau to examine whether a public inquiry or other “mechanisms or transparent processes” such as a judicial review were necessary.

This move stemmed from heightened public concerns over alleged election meddling by China during the last two federal campaigns, prompted by reporting largely based on intelligence leaks.

Noting the mixed views among Canadians and experts around a public inquiry, Trudeau had vowed that the Liberals would “abide by” Johnston’s guidance around whether an inquiry was needed, and respond to any other recommendations.

Responding to the report on Parliament Hill Tuesday, Trudeau said he welcomed Johnston’s hearing plans, and confirmed he won’t be launching a public inquiry as he has “total confidence” in Johnston continuing.

Trudeau said he’s reached out to the opposition party leaders offering them security clearances to review the relevant intelligence on which Johnston has based his findings.

“I think everyone can agree with the? former governor general’s assessment that all leaders must work from a common understanding of true facts,” Trudeau said.

“Every one of us has a responsibility to stand up for our democracy, and undermining it for political gain is wrong and damaging. Rigorous debate is a pillar of democracy, absolutely. So is interrogating our institutions, and holding all elements of government to account,” said the prime minister. “But democracy is not a game. There are lines we must not cross. We must never play into the hands of those overseas, or at home, who want us to lose faith in our democratic institutions.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino (centre) and Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair arrive to hold a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick


In addition to the question of an inquiry, Johnston’s 55-page interim report dives into the issue of foreign interference more broadly, examines what was alleged and the voracity of related reporting in nine specific cases, what he learned from speaking to those involved, and steps taken to counter and communicate about foreign interference.

In Tuesday’s report, Johnston includes four additional initial conclusions:

  • More needs to be done to counter the unquestioned attempts by foreign governments to interfere in Canadian affairs;
  • When viewed in full context with all relevant intelligence “several leaked materials that raised legitimate questions turn out to have been misconstrued in some media reports”;
  • There are “serious shortcomings in the way intelligence is communicated and processed from security agencies through to government,” but no examples of ministers or the prime minister “knowingly or negligently failing to act” have been identified; and
  • His findings should be referred to and reviewed by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) and the National Security and Intelligence Review Committee (NSIRA), and both oversight bodies should report publicly if they disagree.

“What I’ve tried to emphasize in the area of intelligence, one is dealing with different pieces of information. We used the analogy of painting a picture. It’s a number of different brushstrokes, you must have most or all of them together before you have picture,” Johnston said. “Those leaks were based on partial information and in our investigation… based on open information and more particularly, classified information, we came to the conclusion that there was not negligence on the part of any of the ministers or the prime minister, nor malfeasance in the sense of attempting to twist this for partisan advantage.”

“What there was, is a system that is not functioning effectively and how we manage that intelligence, how it crystallizes into something… and then into some recommendation for action. Our system was not producing that in the way it should… We have much to do to be much more effective, much more professional, much more harmonized. And that’s where we hope to spend a good deal of time—including [during the] public hearings—in the second part of our mandate,” Johnston continued during his Tuesday press conference.

Responding to Johnston’s report, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa restated that the allegations of Beijing-backed interference “are purely groundless” claiming that it has been proven “time and again that none of these accusations are based on facts.”


Johnston revealed Tuesday that when Trudeau appointed him, his “preliminary view” was that he was “very likely” to recommend a public inquiry.

After considering whether a public inquiry would enhance public trust in Canada’ electoral process, Johnston said the sensitive material and information that would “lie at the heart” of whether the federal government did enough to confront the claims of interference, cannot be aired publicly.

While noting the value public inquiries can and have had — pointing to the most recent Public Order Emergency Commission focused on the “Freedom Convoy” — Johnston said, in this case, it would not be able to provide the benefits of a full airing of the facts as others have.

“Instead, I would be handing off a problem to someone else, without solving it, or even providing a process by which the problem could be solved. This would prolong, but not enhance, the process,” Johnston said.

Over the last six months, a series of senior federal security officials have testified publicly before parliamentary committees that while attempts were made to meddle, the integrity of Canada’s elections were upheld, while expressing the limitations of what they’d be able to say in an open forum.

Reporters look over David Johnston’s first report as Independent Special Rapporteur on Foreign Interference during a lock-up in Ottawa on May 23, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Johnston said that as a result of these well-founded and required national security constraints and secrecy oaths, any “credible” inquiry would not be able to be public at all, calling what the leakers have done “wrong” and “damaging” to the confidence Canadians are supposed to have in those entrusted with this information.

Asked a few ways by different reporters whether his public hearings will be just as constrained in substantive outcomes as an inquiry, and if he’s essentially asking Canadians to take his word for what he’s found while looking behind closed doors or at secret documents, Johnston pointed to the ongoing work of the parliamentary probes and other intelligence bodies examining the issue.

“This is a problem in that one can’t divulge everything that Canadians would like to know,” Johnston said.


Deciding against recommending a public inquiry, and further, deciding to take on the public hearings himself — given the heightened politicization surrounding his appointment — was quickly met with considerable ire from the opposition parties who have ardently been pushing for an independent airing of the facts.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre panned Johnston’s findings, and said he doesn’t trust Johnston to conduct the public hearings.

“He has no business in this job because it is a fake job that he is incapable of doing impartially. None of his recommendations can be taken seriously because he’s in a conflict of interest,” Poilievre said, adding Conservatives will continue to push for a public inquiry, and a foreign influence registry.

Johnston did not meet with Poilievre over the course of his probe, but Johnston did meet with former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole — who led the party during the 2021 general election.

O’Toole wrote Tuesday morning that his meeting with Johnston last week left him with the impression that the interaction was “nothing more than a box checking exercise.”

But, Johnston said Tuesday he reached out to O’Toole for a meeting after several failed attempts to sit down with Poilievre, and that the former Conservatives leader’s contributions were considered “with care.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Johnston’s decision to not call for a public inquiry was “incredibly disappointing,” and said he will continue to push for one.

“We thank Mr. Johnston for his investigation but there are still unanswered questions that could be responsibly addressed by a public inquiry,” Singh said. “While public meetings can be useful, the powers of a public inquiry are more rigorous… We firmly believe Canadians would benefit from a fulsome, public investigation that maintains the integrity of our intelligence that must be kept confidential.”

Bloc Québécois MP and democratic institutions spokesperson Alain Therrien told reporters Tuesday it’s a “big day for the Chinese government, and a big day for Justin Trudeau, a sad day for Quebec and Canadian democracy.”

Therrien questioned Johnston for largely laying the blame at the feet of the media and CSIS for allegations of foreign interference, while absolving the Liberal government. He said his party is still calling for a public inquiry, and that Johnston’s claims it would be too difficult to hold such an inquiry without divulging classified information are “false.”

Johnston’s appointment has been controversial from the outset, with opposition parties questioning the former debates commissioner’s impartiality and potential conflict of interest given his long-standing close connection to the Trudeau family and his past membership status with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation that’s faced scrutiny over a China-linked donation.

Addressing these concerns head-on on Tuesday, Johnston sought to clarify the “basic facts” about their relationship and the extent they’ve been in contact since Trudeau took office, as well as his involvement with the Trudeau Foundation.

Johnston said Tuesday that he’s been appointed to dozens of public leadership positions on boards and such over the years, by politicians across the political spectrum, noting that the current fervour around his role if it continues, may have a chilling effect on other publicly-minded individuals from stepping into similar positions in the future.

“I’ve been fortunate in my public life to have served as chair of, or a member of an advisory committee, or task forces, on probably two to three dozen different occasions over the years… and in none of those previous occasions has my impartiality or integrity ever been questioned. This is the first time it has happened. And let me simply say that’s very troubling for me, because this kind of baseless set of accusations diminishes trust in our public institutions,” Johnston said.

David Johnston, Independent Special Rapporteur on Foreign Interference, middle leaves after presenting his first report in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick


Tuesday’s report from Johnston was not meant to be the end of his work on the file. He was already mandated to spend the months ahead continuing to take a more all-encompassing look at the issue of foreign interference and the integrity of Canada’s democracy and report on his further findings.

Johnston said he hopes to begin the hearings “at the earliest possible date” and plans to issue a second report based on what he hears, while taking on “a number of critical issues” up until Oct. 31, 2023.

In addition to the hearings, Johnston said he wants to look into the challenges of using classified intelligence in law enforcement, and how it might be addressed. He will also review the role and structure NSICOP, the way intelligence is funneled to top officials, and will suggest amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act “that might assist in fighting foreign interference.

“I will also review the merits of a government-led process for declassification of information to enhance transparency and look at the case for a national security committee of cabinet,” Johnston added during his press conference. “And I will examine the issue of how the government deals with threats against elected officials. Canadians need to understand the threat this issue presents and the mechanisms needed to address it.”

With files from CTV News’ Spencer Van Dyk 


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Canadian wildfires drive smoke into U.S., with no letup expected soon –



Northeastern U.S. airports issued ground stops early Thursday as the weather system that’s driving the ongoing Canadian-American smoke out — a low-pressure system over Maine and Nova Scotia — “will probably be hanging around at least for the next few days,” according to National Weather Service meteorologist.

“Conditions are likely to remain unhealthy, at least until the wind direction changes or the fires get put out,” Brian Ramsey of the NWS said. “Since the fires are raging — they’re really large — they’re probably going to continue for weeks. But it’s really just going be all about the wind shift.”

That means at least another day, or more, of a dystopian-style detour that’s chased players from ball fields, actors from Broadway stages, delayed thousands of flights and sparked a resurgence in mask wearing and remote work — all while raising concerns about the health effects of prolonged exposure to such bad air.


Across the eastern U.S., officials warned residents to stay inside and limit or avoid outdoor activities again Thursday, extending “Code Red” air quality alerts in some places for a third straight day as forecasts showed winds continuing to push smoke-filled air south.

WATCH | Time lapse of Manhattan skyline getting hazier through Wednesday:

See a timelapse of fire haze around NYC skyline

9 hours ago

Duration 0:14

The U.S. National Weather Service released timelapse video on Wednesday showing worsening conditions around New York City.

Air delays, but few cancellations: Buttigieg

Disruptions to arrivals and departures were noted by a few northeastern U.S. airports early Thursday.

“Reduced visibility from wildfire smoke will continue to impact air travel today,” the FAA said, advising travellers who might be affected to check its website for updates.

A person on a bicycle is shown in the foreground in front of a grey, hazy city skyline.
A person cycles past the skyline in Philadelphia shrouded in haze, on Thursday. The intense wildfires are blanketing the northeastern U.S. in a haze, leading to health warnings and travel and event disruptions. (Matt Rourke/The Associated Press)

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, in an MSNBC interview, said the smoke was affecting the multiple airports in the New York-New Jersey, Philadelphia and Maryland-D.C. areas “in a big way.”

“If there’s good news, it’s that this has led to relatively few cancellations; we’ve been able to keep the system going through ground delay programs,” Buttigieg said, while noting that travellers to the affected airports over the next few days should check for updates.

Cancellations and postponements in the world of sports that began the previous day continued on Thursday.

Major League Baseball postponed a home game at Nationals Park between Washington and the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks to June 22. As well, the New York Racing Association cancelled live racing in Belmont, N.Y., two days before the facility is scheduled to host the final leg of the Triple Crown with the Belmont Stakes. 

“Based on current forecast models and consultation with our external weather services, we remain optimistic that we will see an improvement in air quality on Friday,” association president and CEO David O’Rourke said in a statement.

Plumes of fine particulate matter were experienced on Wednesday as far south as North Carolina. Health officials from Vermont to South Carolina and as far west as Ohio and Kansas warned residents that spending time outdoors could cause respiratory problems due to high levels of fine particulates in the atmosphere.

In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered schools to cancel outdoor recess, sports and field trips Thursday. In suburban Philadelphia, officials set up an emergency shelter so people living outside can take refuge from the haze.

In Baltimore, the Maryland Zoo was closing early Thursday due to the conditions.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state was making a million N95 masks — the kind prevalent at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — available at state facilities, including 400,000 in New York City. She also urged residents to stay put.

“You don’t need to go out and take a walk. You don’t need to push the baby in the stroller,” Hochul said Wednesday night. “This is not a safe time to do that.”

A woman in a mask and a reflective vest hands out a mask to a person.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee Shanita Hancle, left, hands out masks at the entrance to a subway station in New York City on Thursday. (Seth Wenig/The Associated Press)

More than 400 fires burning

More than 400 blazes burning across Canada have left 20,000 people displaced. The U.S. has sent more than 600 firefighters and equipment to Canada, among the countries that are helping in the effort to tamp the fires.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to U.S. President Joe Biden by phone on Wednesday. Trudeau’s office said he thanked Biden for his support and that both leaders “acknowledged the need to work together to address the devastating impacts of climate change.”

WATCH | Avoid outdoor exertion, wear an N95 when possible, expert says:

Masking up (again) and other ways to protect yourself from smoky air

19 hours ago

Duration 4:37

With wildfire smoke enveloping major parts of Ontario and Quebec, we look at some ways you can protect yourself — including masking up. Plus, a Q&A from viewers with respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta.

Biden also urged affected residents to follow guidelines set by local officials to stay safe. 

“It’s critical that Americans experiencing dangerous air pollution, especially those with health conditions, listen to local authorities to protect themselves and their families,” Biden said on Twitter.

Smoke from the blazes has been lapping into the U.S. since last month but intensified with recent fires in Quebec, where about 100 were considered out of control Wednesday.

Eastern Quebec got some rain Wednesday, but Montreal-based Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault said no significant rain is expected for days in the remote areas of central Quebec where the wildfires are more intense.

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How ‘severe and unusual’ smoke from Canadian wildfires is spreading and what it means for your health



Vast portions of eastern Canada and the United States are covered in smoke and haze, as wildfires continue to rage out of control in Quebec and other provinces.

The smoke has prompted air quality warnings in many cities and towns in Quebec, Ontario and beyond in Canada, and resulted in hazy, apocalyptic skies and warnings in places like New York City and Washington, D.C.

  • Have a question or something to say? Email: or join us live in the comments now.

CBC News spoke to experts and consulted recent studies to show the potential health impacts of the smoke in the air — and the extent to which it has spread across North America.

“The levels of air pollution that we’re seeing today are severe and unusual in Canada and in parts of the U.S.,” said Rebecca Saari, an air quality expert and associate professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Waterloo.


“These are poor air quality days, especially in certain areas, where people should be aware and protecting themselves.”

A map showing the trail of smoke going southward into the US and Ontario.
(Wendy Martinez/CBC)

She says such events are likely to be more common as climate change intensifies and prolongs the hot, dry conditions that wildfires need to thrive.

For June, the fire risk is considered well above average in almost every province and territory. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the risk is considered average. In P.E.I., the risk is low across the island.

Overall, people across Canada are facing an especially difficult wildfire season, and federal government officials have said their modelling shows increased wildfire risk in most of the country through August.

Roughly 130 forest fires are currently burning in Quebec, with just under 100 of them considered out of control.

A storm system off the eastern coast of Nova Scotia has pushed the smoke from those fires toward Ontario and to the U.S., with poor visibility as far south as North Carolina and into the Midwest.

It has also spread further east, and officials as far as Norway warned the smoke could affect air quality there on Thursday.

The air quality improved early Thursday in Ontario and Quebec, but was forecast to get worse in many parts of Ontario again later in the day and through the weekend.

How bad is the haze?

Different countries use different indexes to measure air quality.

While the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) used in Canada reflects current knowledge of the health effects associated with air pollution and measures on a scale of 10, the Air Quality Index (AQI) used in the U.S. is based on air quality standards and is measured on a scale of 0 to 500. The higher the value, the greater the level of air pollution.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the AQI exceeded a staggering 400 at times in Syracuse, New York City and Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. A level of 50 or under is considered good; anything over 300 is considered “hazardous.”

Meanwhile, the air quality in Toronto ranked among the worst in the world for much of Wednesday, near the level of Delhi, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh, according to IQair, an online service that monitors and tracks air quality using the AQI.

The levels in Kingston and points further east in Ontario were considerably worse on both scales.

Those areas had among the highest levels of particulate matter — known as PM2.5 levels — in the country.

Those particles are so small — 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair — that they can go into the lungs and into the bloodstream, said Dr. Samir Gupta, a respirologist and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.

“So you can imagine the havoc that they wreak in the lungs themselves,” he said. “That’s the most sensitive organ to all of this in terms of breathing symptoms, particularly people who have underlying lung conditions like asthma.”


Masking up (again) and other ways to protect yourself from smoky air


With wildfire smoke enveloping major parts of Ontario and Quebec, we look at some ways you can protect yourself — including masking up. Plus, a Q&A from viewers with respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta.

Air quality in terms of cigarettes

A recent Stanford University study quantified what breathing in that particulate matter would mean in terms of cigarettes.

According to the study, an AQI measurement of 20 is equivalent to smoking one cigarette a day.

The study noted that exposure to wildfire smoke causing an AQI of 150 for several days would be equivalent to smoking about seven cigarettes a day if someone were outside the whole time.

By that calculation, Kingston residents who spent eight hours outside Wednesday smoked the equivalent of nine cigarettes.

Most of Western Canada had a break from the smoky air after struggling with poor quality last month, though some regions, including Vancouver, were designated as “moderate risk.”

If an area has been designated as “very high risk,” Environment Canada advises the general population to reduce or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities.

It recommended that at-risk populations, such as young children, seniors and those with chronic conditions, to avoid strenuous activities altogether.

Many of the tips people picked up during the pandemic are useful now, said Scott Weichenthal, an associate professor in the department of epidemiology, biostatistics and occupational health at McGill University in Montreal.

“If you have to work outside, wear a mask, a proper mask that filters out the small particles, like an N95 mask,” he said.

“If you don’t need to be outside when it’s very polluted, don’t be.”



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Forest fire smoke envelops Toronto, bringing poor air quality, pollution



Environment Canada has increased the air quality risk level for Toronto on Wednesday, up from Tuesday, as forest fire smoke continues to blanket the city.

A special air quality statement remained in place for the city on Wednesday night, saying high levels of pollution had developed due to the wildfires in Quebec and northeastern Ontario.

The federal weather agency predicts Toronto will reach a risk level of nine on the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) on Thursday. The index measures air quality based on how it will impact health. That number indicates high risk during the day and means people may want to consider cancelling outdoor activities.

“There’s a ridge over Ontario right now, so it means these winds are consistently bringing in poor air quality,” said Trudy Kidd, an operational metrologist with Environment Canada.


On Tuesday, the city was at moderate risk and on a level five on the scale of one to ten.

Moderate risk levels mean the general population need not cancel “usual activities” unless you start to experience symptoms like throat or cough irritation. For at-risk populations at that risk level, people are urged to consider rescheduling outdoor activities if symptoms are present, according to Environment Canada.

Those with lung disease, such as asthma, people with heart disease, older people, children, pregnant people and those who work outside are at higher risk of experiencing health effects, the agency said.

Don’t light campfires, premier says

Premier Doug Ford commented on the wildfires and poor conditions on Wednesday during question period, urging the public refrain from lighting campfires.

Ford said half of the forest fires in Ontario were started by lightning strikes and the other half were caused by human activity, such as campfires not being properly extinguished.

See the smoky, hazy skies over Toronto


Environment Canada issued an air quality alert for Toronto on Wednesday as the city faced smoky, hazy conditions from wildfires in Quebec and parts of Ontario.

When the index indicates a high level of risk, the general population should consider rescheduling or reducing outdoor activities if symptoms are experienced. At-risk populations should reschedule outdoor activities, according to Environment Canada.

“Stop those outdoor activities and contact a health-care provider, if you or someone in your care experiences shortness of breath or wheezing, asthma attacks, cough, dizziness or chest pains,” Kidd said.

“Poor air quality will persist into the weekend,” Environment Canada said. The agency’s most recent statement was firmer than Tuesday, as the agency previously said there were hopes the conditions would ease by the weekend. A low pressure system that could bring in cleaner air may arrive by Sunday, Kidd said.

“Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health even at low concentrations. Continue to take actions to protect your health and reduce exposure to smoke,” Environment Canada said.

Air quality and visibility due to the wildfire smoke can fluctuate over short distances and can vary considerably from hour to hour. But wildfire smoke can be harmful even at low concentrations, it said.

Wear a mask if outside, Environment Canada suggests

If you must spend time outdoors, Environment Canada recommends wearing a well-fitted respirator type mask, such as an N95, to help reduce exposure to fine particles in smoke.

“These fine particles generally pose the greatest risk to health. However, respirators do not reduce exposure to the gases in wildfire smoke,” the federal weather agency said.

Drifting wildfire smoke pushes air quality risk ‘off the charts’


Air quality risks are ‘off the charts’ in Ottawa as smoke and haze cover large sections of central Canada. Toronto, Kingston, Ont., and Montreal are also feeling the effects as Environment Canada warns the air could be dangerous to human health for most of the week.

Environment Canada recommends the following:

  • If you or someone in your care experiences shortness of breath, wheezing, severe cough, dizziness or chest pains, stop outdoor activities and contact your health care provider.
  • If you are feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms, stay inside.
  • Keep your indoor air clean.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed if the temperature in your home is comfortable.
  • Take a break from the smoke by temporarily relocating or finding a place in your community with clean, cool air such as a library, shopping mall or community centre.
  • If you must spend time outdoors, a well-fitted respirator type mask that does not allow air to pass through small openings between the mask and your face can help reduce your exposure to fine particles in smoke.
  • Be sure to check on people in your care and those who may be more susceptible to smoke.
  • Evacuate if told to do so.
  • Review your wildfire smoke plan and make sure you have enough medical supplies if the smoke continues to be an issue.

Toronto-area school board moves recess indoors

Due to the air quality warning for the Toronto area, one school board in the region has opted to move recess inside for safety, while others say they are monitoring the situation.

The York Catholic District School Board said in a statement on Tuesday evening that indoor recess would be held indoors all day on Wednesday due to poor air quality.

The Peel District School Board said Tuesday that “strenuous outdoor activities” scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday would be cancelled, including athletic events. While outdoor recess is allowed to continue, it encouraged students to “avoid strenuous activity” and stay inside if they chose.

The CN Tower, enveloped by haze.
Haze envelops the CN Tower on Wednesday. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

The Toronto District School Board made the same changes and issued the same guidance as Peel. Further, it said “TDSB schools will also ensure that HEPA air filters are continuing to be used,” and it will monitor the situation. The Toronto Catholic District School Board left the choice up to schools, stating that it recommends indoor recess be considered along with possibly rescheduling activities.

The Dufferin Catholic District School Board said it will also keep an eye on the air quality on Wednesday and that it would be going ahead with field trips due to difficulties in rescheduling.

Schools aren’t the only thing in the city that’s affected — in an e-mail sent to CBC News, Toronto Blue Jays spokesperson Madeleine Davidson said that due to poor air quality, the dome is closed for Wednesday night’s baseball game.

On Wednesday night, the Toronto Zoo said it would limit its hours from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday due to poor air quality from the smoke and provide protective masks to staff and volunteers required to work outdoors.

The zoo said it would also limit access to the outdoors for some animals as well as limit the amount of time that staff and volunteers work outside.



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