The Canadian government will give $25,000 to families of the Iranian plane crash victims to assist them with funeral arrangments and travel, among other “immediate needs.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday that the money will go to the 57 Canadian citizens and 29 permanent residents who died when Iran shot down the Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet last week.
“This is a unique and unprecedented situation because of the international sanctions placed on Iran and the difficulties that imposes on these families,” he said. “These families have lost a loved one in extraordinary circumstances, and the grieving is even more difficult as a result.”
Trudeau reiterated that he still expects Iran to compensate the victims.
“I want to be clear. We expect Iran to compensate these families. I have met them. They can’t wait weeks. They need support now,” he said at a news conference in Ottawa.
“We haven’t looked at what the full compensation would end up looking like from Iran, but I can assure you any money from Iran for the victims would go straight to them. It would not go to the Canadian government.”
Iran plane crash: Trudeau says loss of life represents a ‘national tragedy’
All 176 people on board the passenger jet died when the Iranian military shot it down with a surface-to-air missile mere minutes after takeoff in Tehran. Iran says it was an unintentional incident.
Canada is among the affected countries that have demanded compensation from Iran for the families of those killed in the crash.
Britain, Sweden, Afghanistan and Ukraine are also calling on Iran to respect the wishes of families on repatriating remains, full access for consular officials and investigators and an independent and credible investigation.
Trudeau also announced that the government will set up a national 1-800 line that will connect those Canadians affected with a lawyer to provide pro bono legal information and advice.
“Our government is firmly committed to holding Iran accountable for those who have lost a loved one, and that includes compensation,” he said. “This is immediate assistance for a range of needs they might have. We will be getting this money to them as quickly as we possibly can.”
He added that he expects the first remains of Canadians killed in the crash to be repatriated “in the coming days.”
The funding announcement follows earlier commitments from the Canadian government to waive fees and speed up processing times for visas for those impacted by the crash.
Iran plane crash: Trudeau says Canada ‘continues to push’ for full international investigation
Earlier Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne sat down for a rare meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to discuss the tragedy.
Trudeau said he did not have many details about the meeting, as it had ended shortly before he began his address to the media but added that he knows Champagne repeated calls for de-escalation.
— With files from the Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
CN, CP trains sharing rail lines to keep supplying Canada during blockades – CBC.ca
Quiet talks brokered by a government desperate to stop a growing economic threat led to two rail rivals coming together with a workaround to bypass the Tyendinaga blockade site.
Since last week, Canada’s two largest railways — CN and Canadian Pacific — have been quietly sharing their rail lines to transport essential supplies to communities in need, according to multiple government, CN and industry sources.
Protests by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga crippled passenger and freight train traffic on CN’s line near Belleville for more than two weeks in solidarity with anti-pipeline protests in northern B.C against the construction of the planned Coastal GasLink pipeline. Ontario Provincial Police officers on Monday arrested 10 demonstrators to get service back up and running on the line.
But as a result of what multiple government sources are describing as a very “rare” collaboration between the two rail giants, CN trains have been circumventing blockades using alternate routes — some through the U.S. — to continue deliveries to Quebec and Maritime communities facing shortages of essential goods such as propane, chemicals for water treatment facilities and animal feed.
Transport Canada and Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s office approached the two companies and helped to negotiate the rail-sharing deal — which is still active in parts of the country dealing with blockades.
WATCH | OPP break up rail blockade:
The deal was kept under wraps by all involved; even the industries affected weren’t told about the arrangement. The Retail Council of Canada told CBC News it didn’t know about the deal. Neither did associations representing propane suppliers in Quebec and across Canada. The groups had been warning of looming supply shortages in Quebec and Eastern Canada, where families, farmers and companies have been rationing goods. Many households use propane to heat their homes and barns.
Government sources say they didn’t advertise the deal, fearing that more blockades could pop up in response.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the CN/CP arrangement yesterday on the way into question period in the House of Commons.
“Over the past number of days we’ve been working with rail carriers to ensure that many trains continue to use alternate routes to get through and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to avoid some of the most serious shortages,” said Trudeau.
Karl Littler, senior vice president, public affairs, of the Retail Council of Canada, learned about the arrangement from CBC News and commended it.
“We’re talking about foods, we’re talking about fuel to keep people heating in what can be a cold winter,” said Littler. “You’re talking about a lot of stuff that Canadians need everyday. I think it’s the responsible thing to look to see what alternative channels exist and if that means collaboration in these circumstances, so much the better.”
One CN conductor said they witnessed how covert the operation has been. The source said they saw specially trained CN workers use CP engines, with that company’s logo on them, to haul unmarked CN cargo.
CP told CBC News it didn’t have a comment to add. CN also isn’t commenting on the deal, saying only that it’s “pleased the illegal blockade in Tyendinaga has come to an end.”
“We are also monitoring our network for any further disruptions at this time,” said CN spokesperson Jonathan Abecassis in a statement.
Chinese Canadians plead for third Canadian rescue flight from Wuhan
Chinese Canadians whose family members remain in Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, are urging the federal government to send a third evacuation plane to bring home Canadians and permanent residents.
Wuhan and other cities across Hubei province went into lockdown on Jan. 23 as the Chinese government tried to contain the spread of the COVID-19, leaving citizens to have “close to zero” chance of leaving the city.
An open letter calling for a third rescue flight
Residents across the Lower Mainland who are originally from Hubei province, set up a WeChat group last week and sent an open letter to Global Affairs Canada on Saturday, hoping to reunite with their loved ones who are still trapped in Hubei.
Simon Zheng, a small business owner who works in Richmond and is also part of the WeChat group, told the Richmond News that at least 50 families are still stuck in Hubei, and each family has at least one Canadian citizen in it.
According to the letter, these families failed to board either of the previous chartered flights due to poor communication and misinformation, language barriers, isolation and mass panic.
“We estimate that the real number of Canadian families still confined in the province of Hubei is in reality much higher than what we have accumulated over the last three days… The longer this ordeal carries on, and the longer the lockdown continues for these unfortunate individuals, the more danger it will impose on the Canadians stuck there,” the letter reads.
“We cannot bear the thought of losing our family members if something were to happen in the next few weeks.”
People in Wuhan have been through a war without smoke: resident
Melanie Huang, a former Richmond resident, is concerned about both of her dad’s and grandfather’s situation in Wuhan as the coronavirus has claimed more than 2,600 lives so far.
Huang said her dad flew to China on Jan. 13 to celebrate Chinese New Year with her 89-year-old grandfather, but now he can’t return to Canada since all train stations and airports have shut down.
“The virus has spread quickly over the past few weeks, and hospitals only accept coronavirus-related patients. If seniors slip at home or hurt themselves, they won’t get treatment in time,” said Huang.
There is also some confusion regarding who is qualified to board the Canadian evacuation flight, according to Huang.
“I contacted the Canadian embassy to check if my dad, who is a permanent resident of Canada, is allowed to leave on the fight, but the answer was ‘no.’ We were told that permanent residents who hold Chinese passports aren’t allowed to leave Wuhan.”
However, Huang later came across news from English media outlets saying that Chinese nationals who are family members of foreign citizens could board flights from Wuhan.
Huang said dozens of WeChat group members now count on the Canadian government to arrange the third flight.
“As family members, we are willing to chip in some money for the flight. The risk our loved ones currently face is very high. Basically, they have been through a war without smoke.”
Newly married couple face forced separation
Meanwhile, Canadian citizen Zheng couldn’t celebrate the first Valentine’s Day with his wife after getting married late last year.
Zheng’s wife, who is in the process of getting permanent residency, went back to Wuhan to visit family members. Now, she is trapped there because the city has been locked down.
Zheng said they didn’t consider trying to board one of the first two chartered flights because they thought people who hold Canadian passports should be given priority to leave Wuhan. However, Zheng’s desire to reunite with his wife grows stronger as it’s uncertain how long the crisis will last.
“My wife has been self-isolating herself at home for the past few weeks. She is trying her best to stay safe, but long-time isolation might result in negative emotions,” said Zheng. “If there is another flight leaving Wuhan, I hope to see my wife on that plane.”
A spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada said they remain in regular contact with Canadians in China and are continuing to assist those in need.
In a written statement, the spokesperson added that Canadian citizens who require emergency consular assistance should contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000. Canadians can also call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email email@example.com.
However, Global Affairs Canada has not commented on whether it will send a third plane into Hubei to bring back the remaining Canadians there.
Renewed protests in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs erupt across B.C. – CBC.ca
Protests by Wet’suwet’en supporters spread across British Columbia again on Monday afternoon, blocking public transit, the Port of Vancouver and the stairs to the B.C. Legislature.
The fresh demonstrations came after police in Ontario made several arrests earlier Monday while clearing a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory erected in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.
All West Coast Express trains heading east from Vancouver to Mission were cancelled Monday afternoon during the rush hour commute as protesters blocked tracks in the Port Haney area.
The tracks were clear by evening, and the trains are expected to run regular service Tuesday morning.
Crowds gather at B.C. Legislature
By mid-afternoon, hundreds of people had gathered near the entrance to the B.C. Legislature.
Police stood on the stairs flanking protesters, but there were no reports of arrests. Later, protesters blocked the progress of a police van that arrived at the legislature. They linked arms and chanted, “peaceful and with love, unarmed and non-violent.”
We’re bringing one of our vans to the Legislature driveway. This is to keep our officers warm – it’s chilly down there. This is NOT a precursor to arrests. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyj?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#yyj</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/F208353?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#F208353</a>
Some protesters locked themselves to a gate at the legislature, which was the scene of a large protest on Feb. 11, which prompted the province to obtain an injunction when entrances to the building were blocked.
Organizers said Monday they’re staying for the long haul.
“We are not here seeking arrest,” said Indigenous youth leader Ta’Kiaya Blaney, speaking with a megaphone. “We are here as our duty as Indigenous youth. Bring your blankets, it’s going to be a long night.”
Protest at Vancouver port
Nearly 100 people also blocked access to the Port of Vancouver at East Hastings Street and Clark Drive, preventing container trucks from leaving the port.
WATCH | Protesters march through Vancouver blocking traffic:
A line of seven trucks en route from the port quickly backed up after demonstrators blocked the intersection around 2:30 p.m. PT. Vancouver police rerouted traffic from the area.
An injunction, granted by the B.C. Supreme Court on Feb. 9, is still in effect at the port. A spokesperson with Port of Vancouver said it is working with police to address the protest.
More than 50 demonstrators were arrested at ports in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in earlier protests this month.
A new CN Rail blockade was also set up in northwestern B.C. on Monday near New Hazelton, about 280 kilometres northeast of Prince Rupert, less than two weeks after one was dismantled at the same location.
The railway runs through the territory of Gitx’san Nation, members of which were at the blockade.
“We wanted to show our solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and also with the Mohawks,” said Gitx’san Nation Hereditary Chief Spookw.
“Divided, we are weak. But when we stand together, we’re strong.”
A number of people had been occupying the Mohawk territory for weeks in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who oppose the development of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline — a project that would cross their traditional territory in northern B.C.
The Ontario blockade has brought freight and passenger rail traffic to a virtual standstill since it was built on Feb. 6, near Belleville. On Monday morning, dozens of police officers arrived at the encampment and began making arrests after demonstrators stayed past a midnight deadline.
Numerous similar rail and road blockades have sprung up in multiple provinces throughout the month, halting freight and passenger train service for much of the country.
A representative with Monday’s demonstration in Vancouver said solidarity actions will continue until the demands of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been met.
CN, CP trains sharing rail lines to keep supplying Canada during blockades – CBC.ca
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