The government won’t disclose how many Canadians are still stuck on the ground in Afghanistan, citing security reasons as the Taliban tightens their grip on the country and swarm the nation’s capital.
Journalists have faced a torrent of messages in recent days from people in Afghanistan who say they fear for their lives. Many had been told to travel to Kabul, where the Canadian embassy is located, but were greeted by an abandoned building when they arrived.
The unstable situation has many fearing they might be left behind — and an unknown number of Canadians may be in that position.
“Due to the security situation in Afghanistan, Global Affairs is not disclosing the number of Canadians who are registered in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database,” read an emailed statement from a Global Affairs Canada (GAC) spokesperson, sent to Global News Sunday evening.
Insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday, declaring in an interview with Al Jazeera TV that “the war is over.” The Taliban took just over a week to seize control over the country after sweeping the country and bulldozing Afghan forces — despite their years of Western training and billions of dollars in foreign-provided equipment.
Trudeau says Canada ‘heartbroken’ over situation in Afghanistan; pledges further support for interpreters
As the situation heated up, Canada quickly halted diplomatic operations and tore its embassy staff out of the country. But many of those who helped Canadian troops during their time in Afghanistan, including interpreters and their families, remain trapped in the country.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau came under criticism from other parties for choosing to call an election on Sunday, as the Taliban descended on Kabul.
“Our democracy, and our democratic institutions are strong enough to be able to ensure that even as we do this important work for Afghanistan, we’re able to check in and make sure that Canadians have their voice on the extraordinarily pressing issues facing them here in this country, right now and for the coming years,” Trudeau said when pressed on the decision.
Canada will be accepting 20,000 Afghans, he added.
“We are extremely concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and I can assure you that officials, and indeed ministers, continue and will continue to weigh in on protecting Canadians, getting Canadians safely out of Afghanistan and continuing to step up as Canada has so many times around the world to bring people to safety,” Trudeau said.
Still, his assurances didn’t spare him from criticism — including from Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.
“It’s horrible to see the Taliban once again securing control of the country,” he said.
“Canada must work with our allies, and we’re going to be standing up for dignity and for human rights as a government, because Mr. Trudeau has not.”
Video shows Taliban members inside Afghanistan’s Presidential Palace
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also tore into Trudeau over the timing of his election call.
“I wouldn’t have called an election,” he said.
“I would be deploying all resources possible to get those that are at risk out of Afghanistan, provide them with help to evacuate not only the people directly impacted, but their families as well.”
Meanwhile, the situation in Afghanistan remains dire. The airport in Kabul has been flooded by Afghans trying to escape the country and fearing they may be left behind. Reports have emerged of revenge killings and brutal tactics from the Taliban in areas they secured in recent days — leaving many desperate to escape the insurgents’ grips.
“They’re living hour by hour. They don’t know what’s going to happen next hour, what’s going to happen at the end of the day,” said Baktash Nasseri, an Afghan-Canadian also living in Scarborough, in a prior interview with Global News.
“It’s very sad, it’s nerve-breaking to see.”
— with files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun, Reuters
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Between violence and vandalism, the parties are experiencing a very ugly campaign – CBC.ca
The three main parties say they’ve experienced ugly incidents on the campaign trail, ranging from vandalism to assault. Some party operatives say it’s the nastiest campaign they’ve ever experienced.
One high-profile incident happened earlier this month when someone threw gravel at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, resulting in charges against a former People’s Party of Canada riding president.
Protests are a common sight during any election but many party workers say the ones they’re seeing during this campaign have been more alarming. The Liberal Party had to cancel a late August stop due to security concerns.
WATCH | Trudeau, security detail hit by gravel stones
Calgary Nose Hill Conservative candidate Michelle Rempel Garner released a statement earlier in the campaign saying she has been a victim of harassing behaviour on the campaign trail. She said she’s been accosted by men with cameras “demanding I respond to conspiracy theories.”
“In the last two weeks, I have also received a death threat from someone who called my office in escalating states of verbal abuse over the course of days,” she said in an Aug. 28 statement.
“It’s unfortunately an all too frequent occurrence for me and many of my colleagues, particularly women, of all political stripes. And this increase in violent language, threats and abuse certainly isn’t confined to politics.”
Canadian Anti-Hate Network executive director Evan Balgord said that this has been the worst campaign he’s seen in recent history in terms of far-right activity, which he sees as largely motivated by the pandemic.
“They believe that there is this awful situation going on, like the apocalypse, right? They think that they’re using mask mandates and stuff to kill or kidnap children or render them infertile,” he said.
“The scapegoats they’ve picked are the people they think are the puppet masters — Trudeau, provincial health authorities. And amongst the most hardcore adherents it would be the Jews, the shadow globalists, the elite and so on and so forth.”
While the Liberal Party appears to be the prime target, Balgord said members of the far-right see the Conservatives as complicit.
Vandalism, alleged assaults
Liberal candidate Carla Qualtrough, seeking re-election in the British Columbia riding of Delta, said she’s seen more expressions of hate and rage during this campaign than in previous years, including anti-LGBT and antisemitic graffiti.
“The police are involved. They’re investigating some of the issues that we’re facing. So yeah, it’s a definite tone and it’s hateful and it’s unacceptable,” she told reporters earlier this week.
“It’s not just anger or difference of opinion. It’s really spiralled to hateful and unacceptable behaviour.”
She’s not the only candidate to involve the police. Kitchener South-Hespeler Conservative candidate Tyler Calver said Waterloo Regional Police are investigating after one of his volunteers was assaulted at a campaign office earlier this month.
Greater Sudbury police charged a 56-year-old woman for allegedly assaulting incumbent Liberal Marc Serré in his campaign office in the federal riding of Nickel Belt in northern Ontario. Police said she pushed a table against him, pinning him against the wall.
On the East Coast, Liberal candidate Dominic LeBlanc said he reported vandalism to the RCMP after someone spray-painted a campaign sign with the words “COVID Nazi.”
“There have been some other disgusting, personal things,” he said. “Somebody spray-painted one talking about my mother, who passed away a year and half ago.”
Liberal candidate Anita Anand, seeking re-election in Oakville, said her campaign has seen about 35 per cent of its signs destroyed.
Ottawa South NDP candidate Huda Mukbil said her signs are constantly being torn down.
She blames the vandalism on people opposed to the changing racial and gender makeup of Canadian politics.
“It’s particularly difficult for women generally. And then for racialized women like myself, that much more,” she told CBC Ottawa.
“So what we have to do is just come together and say that this is unacceptable in Canada.”
Balgord said the violence this year follows the trajectory of what’s been percolating online.
“We’ve allowed online hate to just fester in all the online platforms that Canadians use every day,” he said.
“When online hate festers like that, people start to think it’s normal and acceptable to not just say those things online, but to do those things kind of in person.”
People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was egged at a campaign event earlier this month in Saskatoon.
In an August 26 news release, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul raised concerns about mounting threats to her campaign. The party says that while the Green campaign has not seen any hecklers at press conferences, it’s aware of online posts threatening to disrupt events.
‘We will not allow them to define us’: Trudeau
As the campaign enters its final days, nerves appear frayed.
Trudeau is standing by his response to a heckler who used a sexist slur against his wife.
“Isn’t there a hospital you should be going to bother right now?” Trudeau said.
On Thursday, the Liberal leader said he won’t step back in the face of protests or harassment.
WATCH | Trudeau to heckler: ‘Isn’t there a hospital you should be going to bother?’
“We will not allow an angry minority that does not believe in science — and we have a lot of examples of their intolerance of women, the fact that they are racist — we will not allow them to define us and decide the direction we will take to put an end to this pandemic,” he said in French.
But NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said such snide remarks only bait protesters, who that day had picketed hospitals across the country.
“He shouldn’t have been joking about that because it’s it is dangerous and it’s really causing problems for lots of people,” he said this week.
When asked to comment on campaign violence, the NDP accused Trudeau of sowing divisions with rhetoric that has led to heightened frustrations and backlash.
“Justin Trudeau called a selfish election and throughout his campaign, rather than provide solutions for the challenges families face, he’s talked about divisions,” said a party spokesperson.
“Families are paying the price for his rhetoric — protesters blocking hospitals and assaulting health care workers, a rise in COVID-19 cases across the province and even violence on the campaign trail.”
COMMENTARY: Young Canadians are struggling economically. This election is our chance to fix that. – Global News
Much like nearly half of the country, I was hoping Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wouldn’t call an early election in the midst of a pandemic, but here we are.
Canada’s federal election will take place on Sept. 20, so the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens have just a few days left to convince young Canadians to vote in their favour. Top of mind for gen Zs and millennials? Employment.
Unemployment rates for young Canadians increased by six per cent from 2019 to 2020 — roughly twice that of older Canadians, a Statistics Canada study about youth employment published last month revealed. Indeed, by 2020, the unemployment rate for Canadians aged 15 to 30 who weren’t in school full-time hovered just under 15 per cent. This has been a trend since COVID-19’s arrival in March 2020 when the number of post-secondary working students dropped by 28 per cent from the previous month.
As StatsCan says, this relatively high unemployment rate suggests young Canadians joining the labour force “might see lower earnings in the years following graduation than they would have in a more dynamic labour market.”
Canada’s third COVID-19 wave creates ‘zigzag’ economy
There’s a clear need for a post-pandemic recovery plan that supports gen Zs and millennials in getting jobs. Some even had to sacrifice internships and other entry-level opportunities that would’ve given them a foot in the door because COVID-19’s arrival not only meant that working out of the office wasn’t an option, but also that many companies weren’t yet prepared for the transition to remote working.
Case in point: One of my fellows who graduated from journalism school in the spring of 2020 lost out on a school-funded reporting trip to Rwanda and an internship — which could have led to a permanent job — because the newsroom decided not to bring on interns after the pandemic’s arrival. To make matters worse, due to his unique circumstances as someone who graduated right before COVID-19 hit, he neither qualified for Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program nor the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) because he hadn’t started working yet.
He told me the CESB wasn’t enough to support him, so he’s been living with his parents during the pandemic. The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) provided a scant $1,250 per month for eligible students from May through August 2020, and $1,750 per month for students with dependents and those with permanent disabilities. In most major Canadian cities, that amount would barely cover the cost of one month’s rent for a studio apartment.
Young Canadians with disabilities, who are less likely to be employed than their non-disabled counterparts, have even bigger economic barriers to overcome. Indeed, the election announcement effectively killed Bill C-35, the proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act, which aims to reduce poverty and support the financial security of working-age Canadians with disabilities.
As part of Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery plan, our parties would do well to create green jobs. Not only will they contribute to the fight against climate change, which is a priority issue for gen Zs and millennials, these jobs will also help young Canadians get back to work. They include opportunities in the sectors of renewable energy, environmental protection, sustainable urban planning and more, as well as low-carbon jobs like teaching and care-worker roles.
Canada’s job seekers may have upper hand amid labour squeeze
Despite some resistance to a snap election as the delta variant of COVID-19 picks up, our country’s politicians have an opportunity to improve the financial future of young Canadians across the country during a time when they’re struggling economically.
Now’s the time to shore up our youngest generations and future leaders.
Anita Li is a media strategist and consultant with a decade of experience as a multi-platform journalist at outlets across North America. She is also a journalism instructor at Ryerson University, the City University of New York’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and Centennial College. She is the co-founder of Canadian Journalists of Colour, a rapidly growing network of BIPOC media-makers in Canada, as well as a member of the 2020-21 Online News Association board of directors. To keep up with Anita Li, subscribe to The Other Wave, her newsletter about challenging the status quo in journalism.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday – CBC.ca
In Europe, about 3,000 French health-care workers were suspended for not meeting this week’s deadline to get mandatory coronavirus vaccinations, the health minister said Thursday.
Most of the people suspended work in support positions and were not medical staff, Health Minister Olivier Veran told RTL radio. The number suspended was lower than projected ahead of the Wednesday deadline.
A few dozen of France’s 2.7 million health-care workers have quit their jobs because of the vaccine mandate, he said.
France ordered all health-care workers to get vaccinated or be suspended without pay. Most French people support the measure. However, it prompted weeks of protests by a vocal minority against the vaccine mandate.
What’s happening across Canada
- Southern health region sees biggest chunk of Manitoba’s 64 new cases.
- P.E.I. announces 9 new cases related to Charlottetown school outbreak.
- N.S. reports 34 new cases amid outbreak in unvaccinated northern community.
What’s happening around the world
As of Thursday, more than 226.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.
In the Americas, Cuba began a vaccination campaign for children between the ages of two and 10, saying it was necessary to curb the spread of the delta variant. Meanwhile, the nearby U.S. state of Florida has surpassed 50,000 COVID-19 deaths, officials said, despite recent steep drops in hospitalizations and infections.
PHOTOS | Children in Cuba get vaccinated:
In Asia, Chinese health officials say more than a billion people have been fully vaccinated in the world’s most populous country — that represents 72 per cent of its 1.4 billion people. China has largely stopped the spread by imposing restrictions and mass testing whenever new cases are found. It also limits entry to the country and requires people who arrive to quarantine in a hotel for at least two weeks.
In Africa, the World Health Organization’s Africa director says COVID-19 cases across the continent dropped 30 per cent last week, but says it’s hardly reassuring given the dire shortage of vaccines. WHO’s Dr. Matshidiso Moeti says only 3.6 per cent of Africa’s population have been fully immunized, noting export bans and the hoarding of vaccines by rich countries has resulted in “a chokehold” on vaccine supplies to Africa.
Elsewhere in Europe, in order for Italian workers in both the public and private sectors to access the workplace, they must provide a health pass — which shows proof of vaccination, a negative result on a recent rapid test or recovery from COVID-19 in the last six months — starting on Oct. 15. Slovenia and Greece adopted similar measures this week.
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