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Governments weren’t always working in tandem during ‘Freedom Convoy’: Trudeau



Liberal GST rebate bill passes as government pushes cost-of-living measures

OTTAWA — Different levels of government involved in trying to bring an end to the mass demonstrations in Ottawa and several border crossings last winter were not always on the same page, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged Wednesday.

But he says the important thing is that, in the end, there was unity between the city, the province and the federal government, including over the decision to invoke the federal Emergencies Act in mid-February to bring an end to the weeks-long events.

There were “of course” moments during the unfolding of the convoy when governments “weren’t working as tightly as would have been ideal,” said Trudeau. “But the important thing is that we all stood together and put Ontarians and Canadians first and we resolved the situation.”

His comments come a day after the public inquiry into the use of the federal Emergencies Act produced evidence suggesting that about 10 days into the convoy, Trudeau did not think Ontario Premier Doug Ford was showing up to help end it.

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“Doug Ford has been hiding from his responsibility on it for political reasons as you highlighted,” Trudeau told Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, according to a readout of a call between them on Feb. 8.

He went on to say that Ford couldn’t be allowed to get away with that.

Watson was testifying at the inquiry Tuesday and said he shared Trudeau’s frustration.

With three days of testimony now complete, the inquiry has begun to paint a picture of a chaotic response to the event by police and different levels of government.

The inquiry is a legal requirement under the Emergencies Act to evaluate whether the government met the high threshold required to use it.

Invoking the Emergencies Act, which had never been done since its passage in 1988, allowed the government to implement temporary but extraordinary powers including freezing the bank accounts of convoy participants and forcing insurance companies to suspend insurance coverage of vehicles involved in the convoy.

Opposition Conservatives are among the critics who say the government did not meet the legal threshold and invoking the act was an overreach to deal with what amounted to people lawfully expressing their discontent with the government.

Many of the party’s MPs also openly supported the demonstrators during their takeover of the streets outside of Parliament Hill, even as local residents complained of unending honking and city leaders begged them to leave.

Alberta Conservative MP Arnold Viersen called on protesters who were there to make public submissions to the commission about their motivations and “how safe you felt.”

“‘You can talk about the bouncy castles, you can talk about the street hockey that got played, you can talk about the sense of camaraderie that you had and the pride that you had in our country,” he said in a Facebook video filmed Tuesday at the main site of the Ottawa blockade.

“You can talk about how this was generally a safe congregation and you can talk about how you didn’t feel the government was listening.”

Aslast winter’sdemonstrations continued, Ottawa attempted to create a regular conversation between the three levels of government to discuss the convoy, but the province never accepted the invitation.

Ford ultimately supported the use of the Emergencies Act and used his own measures, including calling a state of emergency in the province to try and get a handle on both the occupation in Ottawa and the blockades at critical border crossings with the United States.

On Monday, before the transcript of the conversation between Trudeau and Watson was public, Ford stood beside both of them at an announcement in Ottawa, and told reporters he “stood shoulder to shoulder” with the federal government during the convoy.

Ford is the first conservative premier to have publicly backed Trudeau’s use of the Emergencies Act. The governments of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, whose provinces saw border blockades or efforts to disrupt traffic, all rejected the move as unnecessary.

Former British Columbia premier John Horgan said at the time that he believed something needed to be done, and that it would be up to Ottawa to defend its actions.

Ford’s endorsement this week wasn’t welcomed by Ontario Tory MP Karen Vecchio, who on Tuesday called it “unfortunate” and noted the inquiry was still doing its work.

Quebec MP Gerard Deltell added on Wednesday that he feels the commission process must unfold before any comments can be made.

Trudeau said Wednesday there will be many more details to come as the inquiry continues, but to him, the key is what happened to bring the events to an end.

“Doug Ford invoked his emergencies act. We invoked our Emergencies Act,” he said.

“We put the citizens of Ontario, the well-being of families, the well-being of our economy ahead of the interests of illegal protesters, and we were glad to stand together on that. And as you saw on Monday, we continue to stand together on this even as we’re making important economic announcements for the future of Ontario.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2022.


Mia Rabson and Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press


Canadian military would be 'challenged' to launch a large scale operation: chief of the defence staff – CTV News




Canada’s military forces are “ready” to meet their commitments should Russia’s war in Ukraine spread to NATO countries, but it would be a “challenge” to launch a larger scale operation in the long term, with ongoing personnel and equipment shortages, according to Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre.

Eyre told Joyce Napier on CTV’s Question Period in an interview airing Sunday that while the forces in Europe are “ready for the tactical mission they’ve been assigned,” he has larger concerns about strategic readiness. He said there’s a lack of people and equipment, and further concern around the ability to sustain a larger scale mission in the longer term.

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The Canadian Armed Forces are still struggling to retain staff, with nearly 10,000 fewer trained personnel than they’d need to be at full force, and equipment stocks below what they require.

“We’ve got challenges in all of those,” Eyre said, adding the numbers reflect what’s been “let slip over decades, as we’ve focused on the more immediate (needs).”

Eyre said Canada’s military would be “hard pressed” to launch another large-scale operation like it had in Afghanistan, as an example, without having to redistribute its resources around the globe, as threats evolve.

“The military that we have now is going to be increasingly called upon to support Canada and to support Canadian interests, to support our allies overseas, but as well at home,” Eyre said, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, climate change impacting the landscape in the Arctic, and an increase in digital and cybersecurity threats.

“It’s always a case of prioritization and balancing our deployments around the globe, not just with what, but when, and with who … and getting that balance right is something that that we’re working on,” he said. “Could we use more? Yeah, absolutely. But we operate with what we have.”

“We prioritize and balance based on what our allies need, and what the demand signals, just to make sure that we achieve the strategic effect the government wants us to achieve,” he also said.

Meanwhile Defence Minister Anita Anand said on CTV’s Question Period last week that Canada should “be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” and balance its NATO commitments with securing the Arctic and promoting peace in the Indo-Pacific.

Eyre said his number one priority is getting Canada’s armed forces up to full strength, with an attrition rate of 9.3 per cent between both regular and reserve forces, up from 6.9 per cent last year. The Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy was released just last month.

“We are facing the same challenge that every other industry out there is facing in terms of a really tight labor market,” Eyre said. “Every other military in the West is facing the same challenge.”

He explained the organization is working on streamlining its recruitment process, among other changes, to meet the increasing need, with the goal to get numbers up “as quickly as possible.”

“Ideally, would have been yesterday,” he said. “We’re looking at where we can accelerate the recruiting, the training, and optimizing our training pipeline.”

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World Cup 2022: How soccer is evolving in Canada – CTV News



Soccer wasn’t really a thing when I was a kid. I grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s. Sure, we all had soccer balls. And we played a lot of what should be more accurately called, Kick and Run. But I – and all my friends – did not really know the rules, the teams or the players. We might’ve heard of Pelé, but not more than that.

We followed hockey, baseball, football (CFL and NFL) and basketball, in that order. I did occasionally watch soccer on TV, but that was because we didn’t have a lot of channels and the soothing English accents often lulled me to sleep.

Things are much different now. My 13-year-old son is a massive soccer fan. He plays on a team three or four times a week. His schoolmates include a lot of second-generation Canadians, whose parents came from soccer-obsessed nations. He watches Premier League and Championship League matches. He’s watches La Liga and Bundesliga. He watches World Cup qualifiers and could tell me the backstory on most of the players. In fact, he watches classic games on YouTube and plays FIFA22 on his PS4 and as a result, knows more about Pelé than I ever did. But, because of him, I now watch enough football to know a game is a match, a goalie is a keeper and I know which plays end up in corner kicks or throw-ins.

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I once asked him, “How well do you know the Germany national team?” and he said, “Not very well.” He then proceeded to name seven of their 11 starters. It’s a different world.

I still know almost nothing compared to the other soccer dads, but like millions of Canadians, I watched Canada’s qualifying matches and I know we have a great team, with some stellar players who are worth watching. The qualifying matches regularly beat both hockey games and CFL football when it comes to viewership.

But we should care about more than just the matches themselves. The World Cup is one of the biggest and most lucrative sports spectacles on Earth. This will be the first one hosted in the Middle East. And although Qatar may look shiny and new on TV, it’s mired in what many Western nations believe to be medieval and backwards policies on working conditions, LGBTQ2S+ and women’s rights.

Finding people to talk about it in Qatar is NOT easy. One of W5’s goals this week was to talk to migrant workers to describe how they were treated, their living conditions and their labour rights. Most were too afraid to talk to us.

And to confound things, there have been many stories of journalists being detained or arrested for reporting on migrant workers. Last week, a Danish reporter was live on TV from Qatar and when asked what things were like there, he directed his camera operator to pan left – revealing security officials in golf carts, who immediately tried to stop the live hit. The next day Qatari officials apologized, but the message was clear: we can stop you from reporting when we want. It’s a fascinating video that’s been viewed millions of times around the globe.

The Qatari government denies they’ve put any restrictions on media. In a tweet, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy says “several regional and international media outlets are based in Qatar, and thousands of journalists report from Qatar freely without interference each year.”

Not everyone is convinced. Qatar ranks 118 out of 180 countries in the 2022 Press Freedom index, published by Reporters Without Borders. Freedom House, which is a U.S.-based freedom watchdog, gives Qatar a 25 out of 100 score on Global Freedom, which includes freedom of expression. (Canada ranks 98 and the US ranks 83).

A Reuters Institute column from last week on press freedom in Qatar suggests authorities obscure press freedom laws, by hiding behind trespassing laws.

“One of the most common risks when doing journalistic work in Qatar is to be accused of trespassing. This is what Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani of Norwegian state broadcaster NRK were accused of when they were arrested by officers of Qatar’s Criminal Investigations Department in November 2021, while covering World Cup preparations. The journalists were held for over 30 hours before being released without charge. They deny they were filming without permission,” says the article.

A little insider info: I have personally written, “we don’t want you to get arrested, but…” at least twice in correspondence with our team in Qatar. I’ve never encouraged anyone to break the law of course, but sometimes doing our jobs leads police or security into thinking they have a duty (or at least a right) to stop you.

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Don’t have a cow: Senator’s legen-dairy speech draws metaphor from bovine caper



OTTAWA — Haven’t you herd? A dramatic tale of 20 escaped cows, nine cowboys and a drone recently unfolded in St-Sévère, Que., and it behooved a Canadian senator to milk it for all it was worth.

Prompting priceless reactions of surprise from her colleagues, Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne recounted the story of the bovine fugitives in the Senate chamber this week — and attempted to make a moo-ving point about politics.

“Honourable senators, usually, when we do tributes here, it is to recognize the achievements of our fellow citizens,” Miville-Dechêne began in French, having chosen to wear a white blouse with black spots for the occasion.

“However, today, I want to express my amused admiration for a remarkably determined herd of cows.”

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On a day when senators paid tribute to a late Alberta pastor, the crash of a luxury steamer off the coast of Newfoundland in 1918 and environmental negotiators at the recent climate talks in Egypt, senators seated near Miville-Dechêne seemed udderly taken aback by the lighter fare — but there are no reports that they had beef with what she was saying.

Miville-Dechêne’s storytelling touched on the highlights of the cows’ evasion of authorities after a summer jailbreak — from their wont to jump fences like deer to a local official’s entreaty that she would not go running after cattle in a dress and high heels.

The climax of her narrative came as nine cowboys — eight on horseback, one with a drone — arrived from the western festival in nearby St-Tite, Que., north of Trois-Rivières, and nearly nabbed the vagabonds before they fled through a cornfield.

“They are still on the run, hiding in the woods by day and grazing by night,” said Miville-Dechêne, with a note of pride and perhaps a hint of fromage.

She neglected to mention the reported costs of the twilight vandalism, which locals say has cost at least $20,000.

But Miville-Dechêne did save some of her praise for the humans in the story, congratulating the municipal general manager, Marie-Andrée Cadorette, for her “dogged determination,” and commending the would-be wranglers for stepping up when every government department and police force in Quebec said there was nothing they could do.

“There is a political lesson in there somewhere,” said the former journalist.

Miville-Dechêne ended on what could perhaps be interpreted as a butchered metaphor about non-partisanship: “Finally, I would like to confess my unbridled admiration for these cows that have found freedom and are still out there, frolicking about. While we overcomplicate things, these cows are learning to jump fences.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2022.


Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press



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