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Hurricane Fiona less than 24 hours from landfall in Canada – CTV News

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CAGUAS, Puerto Rico –

Fiona, a Category 3 hurricane, pounded Bermuda with heavy rains and winds early Friday as it swept by the island on a route forecast to have it approaching northeastern Canada late in the day as a still-powerful storm.

Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices ahead of Fiona. Premier David Burt sent a tweet urging residents to “take care of yourself and your family. Let’s all remember to check on as well as look out for your seniors, family and neighbours.”

The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane watch over extensive coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Fiona should reach the area as a “large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.”

“It’s going to be a storm that everyone remembers when it is all said and done,” said Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

Ian Hubbard, meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, said the center of the storm is expected to arrive Saturday morning sometime between 9 am and 10 am locally, but winds and rains will arrive late Friday.

The U.S. center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) late Thursday. It was centered about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of Bermuda, heading north-northeast at 25 mph (41 kph).

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 115 miles (185 kilometers) from the center and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 275 miles (445 kilometers).

A hurricane warning was in effect for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule; Prince Edward Island; Isle-de-la-Madeleine; and Newfoundland from Parson’s Pond to Francois.

Fiona so far has been blamed for at least five deaths — two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one in the French island of Guadeloupe.

Hurricanes in Canada are somewhat rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their main source of energy. and become extratropical. But those cyclones still can have hurricane-strength winds, though with a cold instead of a warm core and no visible eye. Their shape can be different, too. They lose their symmetric form and can more resemble a comma.

Robichaud said at a news conference that modelling projected “all-time” low pressure across the region, which would bring storm surges and rainfall of between 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches).

Amanda McDougall, mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said officials were preparing a shelter for people to enter before the storm arrived.

“We have been through these types of events before, but my fear is, not to this extent,” she said. “The impacts are going to be large, real and immediate.”

Dave Pickles, chief operating officer of Nova Scotia Power, said it expected widespread power outages.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center said that a tropical depression in the southern Caribbean is expected to hit Cuba early Tuesday as a hurricane and then hit south Florida early Wednesday.

It was located about 615 miles (985 kilometers) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. It had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was moving at 13 mph (20 kph).

Before reaching Bermuda, Fiona caused severe flooding and devastation in Puerto Rico, leading U.S. President Joe Biden to say Thursday that the full force of the federal government is ready to help the U.S. territory recover.

Speaking at a briefing with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in New York, Biden said, “We’re all in this together.”

Biden noted that hundreds of FEMA and other federal officials are already on the ground in Puerto Rico, where Fiona caused an island-wide blackout.

More than 60% of power customers remained without energy Thursday and a third of customers were without water, while local officials said they could not say when service would be fully restored.

As of Friday, hundreds of people in Puerto Rico remained isolated by blocked roads five days after the hurricane ripped into the island. Frustration was mounting for people like Nancy Galarza, who tried to signal for help from work crews she spotted in the distance.

“Everyone goes over there,” she said pointing toward crews at the bottom of the mountain who were helping others also cut off by the storm. “No one comes here to see us. I am worried for all the elderly people in this community.”

At least five landslides covered the narrow road to her community in the steep mountains around the northern town of Caguas. The only way to reach the settlement was to climb over thick mounds of mud, rock and debris left by Fiona, whose floodwaters shook the foundations of nearby homes with earthquake-like force.

At least eight of the 11 communities in Caguas were completely isolated, said Luis Gonzalez, municipal inspector of recovery and reconstruction.

It was one of at least six municipalities where crews had yet to reach some areas. People there often depend on help from neighbors, as they did following Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm in 2017 that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Danciel Rivera arrived in rural Caguas with a church group and tried to bring a little cheer by dressing as a clown.

“That’s very important in these moments,” he said, noting that people had never fully recovered from Hurricane Maria.

His huge clown shoes squelched through the mud as he greeted people, whose faces lit up as they smiled at him.

——

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller in Washington, Seth Borenstein in New York, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Maricarmen Rivera Sanchez in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed

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RCMP ‘did their best’ in response to N.S. mass shooting: federal Justice Department

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HALIFAX — The RCMP’s response to the 2020 shooting rampage that left 22 Nova Scotians dead was far from perfect, but police did their best, the federal Justice Department said Friday.

During the final day of public proceedings at the federal-provincial inquiry into the mass shooting, Lori Ward, general counsel for the federal Department of Justice, said there’s always room for improvement for all policing agencies.

“No response to a critical incident of this magnitude could be perfect, but when this crisis hit, the RCMP showed up, did their best and acted with courage, determination and dedication,” Ward said.

It’s difficult, she added, to separate what was known when the killer was at large on April 18-19, 2020, from what has been uncovered in the years since the tragedy. While hindsight is a valuable tool when used to learn lessons and make changes, it “can also impede a fair and objective evaluation of decisions made in real time.”

On the night of April 18, 2020, a man disguised as a Mountie and driving a car that looked exactly like an RCMP cruiser started killing neighbours and strangers in rural Portapique, N.S.

Ward said she is aware of the criticism levelled at the RCMP for allegedly dismissing witness accounts of the marked police car that the gunman was driving during the 13-hour rampage. She said the idea that the killer could have built such a car himself was beyond reasonable comprehension and was unlike anything police had seen before.

When the RCMP were sent photos of gunman Gabriel Wortman’s replica police cruiser the morning of April 19, 2020, it was initially viewed with “disbelief and incomprehension” by all members, Ward said.

“To assert that (RCMP) should have continued to search for a car identical to their own as opposed to turning their minds to alternatives like decommissioned cars is to view the events through the lens of someone who has now been familiar with the existence of the replica car for more than two years,” she said.

Ward, who at times before the inquiry had tears in her eyes, highlighted that among the “problems and failings” of the RCMP in the aftermath of the shootings was the delay in discovering some of the killer’s 22 victims.

Harry and Cory Bond, the sons of Peter and Joy Bond — a couple murdered in Portapique, N.S., the night of April 18, 2020 — started hearing from acquaintances the next morning about shootings near Cobequid Court, the road where their parents lived.

The summary from the inquiry into the mass shooting says it was about 18 hours after the killings started before an RCMP officer found the Bonds’ bodies inside their home.

“The anguish felt by the families of those victims at the thought of that lapse of time is unimaginable,” Ward said, adding that the delay is among the things the RCMP “wishes it could go back and change.”

To close out the final day of public inquiry proceedings, the three commissioners thanked all those who participated for their contributions and the public for its engagement.

A final report detailing recommendations from the inquiry will be released March 31, 2023.

Commissioner Leanne Fitch said that the inquiry has heard commitments from RCMP leaders and other “institutional representatives” that they will be open to the recommendations and are prepared to receive them.

“We are encouraged by these commitments and call on policymakers, institutions, community groups and members of the public to take action based on the coming recommendations,” Fitch said.

The commission of inquiry said it has conducted interviews with more than 230 people, including 80 RCMP officers, and has released 31 summaries of evidence — known as foundational documents — alongside more than 3,800 supporting materials and exhibits. As well, more than 900 members of the public shared their experiences of the mass shooting through the commission’s online survey.

Members of the public may submit suggestions for recommendations through email, mail or over the phone until Sept. 30.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

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

 

Lyndsay Armstrong, The Canadian Press

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Jason Kenney, soon out as Alberta premier, pokes fun at himself in speech

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Jason Kenney, in one of his last speeches as Alberta’s premier and United Conservative Party leader, riffed at the microphone Friday, drawing laughs as he poked fun at himself and pretended to brush off a call from the prime minister.

“This is clearly not a UCP caucus meeting,” Kenney joked as delegates gave him an ovation in Calgary at the Alberta Municipalities convention.

He then looked to the moderator and said, “Too soon?”

Kenney will be replaced as party leader and premier on Oct. 6. He announced in the spring he was leaving after open challenges to his leadership from party members and a lukewarm 51 per cent vote of support in a review.

In his speech, Kenney lauded the accomplishments of his government and the province, which is once again gushing with oil and gas revenues just months after its economy was pancaked by the COVID-19 crisis.

As Kenney spoke, he got a call on his phone. He let it go to voice mail, saying, “Sorry, Justin. I’ll call back later.”

As delegates laughed, Kenney shrugged and added, “I got nothing left to lose.”

Kenney said his government did what it set out to do after winning the 2019 election. He said while oil and gas revenues have been the engine of the recovery, other policies have helped.

He noted his government slashed the corporate income tax, reduced needless and duplicative regulations, streamlined business approval processes, laid the groundwork to expand in growth areas such as high-tech and hydrogen, added more opportunities to teach skilled trades, and introduced tax incentives to lure more film and TV productions.

“You’re looking at something in the range of $90 billion of capital investment in this province over the next decade alone. This is huge,” he said.

Kenney joked that he had tried — and failed — to land a part in one of those film projects, opining, “I guess I’m proof that politics really is showbiz for ugly people.”

The premier also cautioned municipal leaders to keep their wish lists within reason, given that while times are good now, they can get ugly again in a hurry due to the mercurial nature of oil and gas prices.

He noted that at one point earlier this year, benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil was selling above US$100 a barrel but is now at less than $80, and fell $4 a barrel in the hours before his speech.

“Don’t imagine that we can wish our way out of fiscal constraints,” Kenney said.

Seven candidates, including four of Kenney’s former cabinet ministers, are running to replace him. The winner will have less than eight months before the scheduled general election in May.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley, in her speech to delegates, promised a new revenue-sharing deal with municipalities and an end to UCP policies that led to higher auto insurance rates, school fees and tuition hikes.

Notley said her party would end the rancorous relationship between the government and the doctors that began after Kenney’s government tore up the master agreement with physicians in early 2020.

She received the largest round of applause of the morning after promising her government would abandon the plan to replace the RCMP with a provincial police force in smaller cities and rural areas.

Kenney’s government has been advocating strongly for the change while municipal and rural leaders worry over who will pay for such an expensive transformation.

“I’m not ever going to endorse a plan that sees hundreds of millions of dollars go toward repainting (police) cars and changing the signs on detachments,” Notley said.

“I won’t download new costs onto your constituents or gaslight you about who’s actually going to pay for it.”

This story by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

 

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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South Korea president Yoon seeks more Canada trade as China looms over Ottawa visit

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OTTAWA — South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol says Canada is a natural match for boosting the production of electric vehicles, as both countries try to contain the risk of a more aggressive China.

On his one-day visit to Ottawa Friday, the president praised Canada’s natural resources and research into artificial intelligence, saying they could complement his country’s work in digital technology and semiconductors.

“If we co-operate in this area, (Korea’s) digital and data technology and Canada’s A.I. technology can work together, I think, and in synergy,” Yoon said in Korean during a press conference on Parliament Hill.

Yoon already met this month with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the queen’s funeral in London and at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. From there, he had short flights for his one-day visits to Toronto and Ottawa.

Butanalysts saidYoon’s visit was more than a matter of convenience, noting it was his first formal bilateral visit since he took office in March.

Robert Huish, an international development professor at Dalhousie University, said Canadians often don’t realize how deep their cultural and economic ties have been with South Korea for decades.

“Canada sometimes forgets that it is a Pacific nation, and it’s very much committed to engaging in the South Korean market,” said Huish, who researches security in the Korean Peninsula.

“Going forward, there is a want to make that stronger.”

Huish said planeloads of Nova Scotia seafood used to arrive in South Korea multiple times a week before the COVID-19 pandemic and a network of Canada-Korea friendship groups has fostered strong industrial links.

“Canada is finding itself as a very strategic market to South Korea, from seafood exports to now getting into electric-vehicle components.”

Both could be on the agenda next month when Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne will be among a delegation heading to Seoul.

Yoon also thanked Canada for its support in containing the threat posed by North Korea.

Canada recently deployed a frigate as part of an ongoing, multinational surveillance operation that tracks whether the Communist regime is trying to evade sanctions. That includes monitoring for ships transferring fuel or commodities.

Friday’s meeting comes after months of anticipation for Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy, a document that industry groups hope will clarify which countries Ottawa wants to grow closer to, and which countries should be lower priorities due to trade barriers or human-rights concerns.

Countries like Britain and France have already published such documents, and the Liberals promised Canada would outline its Indo-Pacific strategy months ago. On Friday, Trudeau pointed out twice that South Korea is also working on its own strategy for the region.

Also Friday, Trudeau announced Canada’s ambassador to China, a post that had been left vacant since last December.

He has tasked Jennifer May, a career diplomat with three decades of experience in foreign service, with advancing both trade and democratic values.

“China is certainly a real challenging actor in the region,” Trudeau said Friday. “A nuanced approach that is looking out for the interests of Canadians, the interests of citizens across our democracies, is essential.

“For too long, China and other autocracies have been able to play off neighbours and friends against each other, by offering bits of access to their market.”

At multiple points in his visit, Yoon mentioned Canada’s sacrifice in the Korean War, including after laying a wreath at the National War Memorial.

Earlier in the day, during a visit to Trudeau’s office in the West Block, Yoon praised his policies and support for multiculturalism.

“You are such an attractive leader; you brought unity to Canadian society,” a translator for Yoon said in English.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

 

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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