HALIFAX — Convinced there was a killer outside the firehall where he worked, Nova Scotia firefighter Darrell Currie recalled Monday how he was overcome by a deep sense of dread as he hid behind a stack of metal chairs with two other men.
“I remember thinking, ‘How am I going to die?’” the deputy fire chief told a federal-provincial inquiry investigating the mass shooting in Nova Scotia that claimed 22 lives in April 2020.
“Am I going to bleed out on the floor? Are they going to shoot through the wall? It was pretty horrific.”
Currie’s dramatic testimony related to events on the morning April 19, 2020, when the RCMP were still searching for the suspect, who had fatally shot 13 people the night before in Portapique, N.S., and would kill another nine people that day.
At the time, the firehall in Onslow, N.S., had been designated as a comfort centre for people evacuated from Portapique.
The inquiry has heard that Currie was in the building with fire Chief Greg Muise and evacuee Richard Ellison at 10:17 a.m. when they heard gunfire outside. Seconds later emergency management co-ordinator David Westlake ran inside yelling, “Shots fired! Shots fired! Get down!”
Muise and Currie said they assumed the killer had fired the shots, which prompted them to hustle into a back room. “We had no idea what was going on outside,” Muise told the inquiry. “It happened so fast and everything was chaos.”
Within minutes of the shooting, Currie described hearing someone banging repeatedly on an outside door next to where they were hiding.
“That few seconds with the banging on the door, they were the worst seconds of my life,” said Currie, a firefighter with 25 years of experience.
As for Ellison, his reaction to the high-stress event was matter-of-fact: “I just followed orders to get down.”
The inquiry heard that Ellison was already in a state of shock that morning. He was worried that one of his sons, Corrie, had been killed in Portapique, which later turned out to be true.
As for the firefighters, both confirmed it was about an hour before they learned the bullets that hit the building had been fired by two RCMP officers who mistook Westlake for the killer.
“We had no reason to believe that RCMP had opened fire on a local fire station,” Currie said. “That never crossed our minds. We were terrified.”
Muise said that having to wait 57 minutes to learn what had happened was torture. “We were like hostages,” he said.
One of the RCMP officers, Const. Dave Melanson, entered the building to confirm with Westlake that no one had been injured, but neither of the officers checked on anyone else in the building, the inquiry heard.
As well, Muise and Currie said that had they known more about what was going on with the search for the killer, they would have recommended against opening the firehall to evacuees.
“The fact was that the perpetrator was not contained,” Currie said. “There was a threat that we were never made aware of … If we had had more information prior to 8 a.m., that might have made a difference.”
It would be another 11 months before senior RCMP staff showed up at the firehall to talk about what happened, Muise said.
“I don’t think the RCMP wanted anything to do with the firehall,” he told the inquiry. “They were shoving us under the table and hoping this would go away. I don’t think they realize what they put us through.”
The firefighters told the inquiry that the close call was so terrifying that both have required medications and counselling to cope. “It took a part of my life from me,” said Muise. “I fight with it every day.”
Currie said he has attended workshops for those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. “I couldn’t function and I couldn’t focus,” he said. “Fortunately, I didn’t lose my life that day. But I lost the life I had.”
When asked about how the incident had affected him, Ellison responded by thanking the firefighters for keeping him safe. “At least there’s some humanity out there,” he said, adding that his religious faith has helped him cope with the loss of his son.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2022.
Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
Sanctioned Russians will be banned from entering Canada, government says – CBC News
Russians sanctioned by Canada will be barred from entering the country, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) say.
In a statement from CBSA, Mendicino announced he’ll introduce changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that will prevent those sanctioned individuals from coming into the country.
“These changes will allow the Canada Border Services Agency to deny entry to, and remove, individuals subject to sanctions, and will allow Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officials to deny visas,” the statement reads.
“Once in force, these amendments to IRPA will apply to all foreign nationals subject to sanctions by Canada, and any accompanying family members.”
The government has sanctioned over 1,000 individuals and entities from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Global Affairs Canada.
Among those sanctioned are senior Russian government officials such as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adult daughters Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova, and Putin himself.
The sanctions prevent them from receiving financial and property services in Canada or from Canadians outside of Canada.
“In the face of the Putin regime’s brutal attack, Canada stands with Ukraine. Banning close associates and key supporters of Putin’s regime, including those responsible for this unprovoked aggression, from entering our country is one of the many ways in which we’re holding Russia accountable for its crimes,” Mendicino said in the statement.
“We will continue to exhaust all options to uphold freedom and democracy, punish Russia and support Ukraine.”
Russia has sanctioned Canadians in retaliation for Canada’s sanctions — including premiers, military officials and journalists.
UFOs: More Canadian politicians briefed – CTV News
Canadian members of Parliament are urging the government to pay more attention to recent U.S. news about “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or UAP: a term used for what are more commonly known as unidentified flying objects and UFOs.
According to Conservative MP Larry Maguire and a Texas-based researcher, at least three Canadian politicians have now sought UAP briefings from former Pentagon officials.
“When you see the information that’s come out of the United States, you’d have to take it seriously,” Maguire told CTV News from his Ottawa office. “We need to have a parallel program to what the United States already has.”
On Tuesday, a pair of senior U.S. military officials testified during the first public congressional hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years.
“We know that our service members have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena,” Ronald Moultrie, who oversees the Pentagon’s current UFO research office, said during the hearing. “We’re open to any conclusions that we may encounter.”
Earlier this month, CTVNews.ca revealed former Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan also received a UFO briefing ahead of the June 2021 release of an unclassified U.S. intelligence report on recent military sightings, which have included UAP that appeared to “maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable means of propulsion.” Military personnel, police and pilots have also filed reports in Canada.
“We need to identify the origins and the intent of these UAPs, and that certainly can’t hurt anything,” Maguire said Tuesday.
Maguire’s office states it arranged a Feb. 16, 2021 briefing for the Manitoba MP and another Conservative parliamentarian with Luis Elizondo, a former U.S. Army counterintelligence officer who reportedly ran a UAP research program before resigning from the Pentagon in 2017.
“Mr. Maguire is absolutely correct in his concern, because he knows that these reports do occur,” Elizondo told CTV News from Wyoming on Tuesday. “I think the time has come for us to have an open and honest dialogue about this topic without fear of retribution, without stigma and associated taboo.”
Maguire has penned a recent op-ed on the subject and has even used his committee work to raise questions about UAP sightings in Canada. Earlier this year, Maguire’s office arranged another briefing with members of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU), an international think tank dedicated to applying scientific methods to UAP research.
Engineer and founding SCU board member Robert Powell was part of that Jan. 28 meeting and says he also participated in an Oct. 20, 2021 briefing for a Liberal member of Parliament.
“Both MPs were very interested in the subject,” Powell told CTVNews.ca from Austin, Texas. “The main thing I try to get across in these types of meetings is basically to give them as good an understanding as I can of the history and the current status of the UAP subject.”
According to Powell, the Oct. 2021 UAP briefing with the Liberal MP included former Pentagon intelligence official Christopher Mellon.
“We have no idea where they’re coming from or what their capabilities are, or what their intent is,” Mellon told CTV News in a June 2021 interview. Mellon did not respond to a request to comment on this story.
Internal briefing documents obtained by CTVNews.ca state the Canadian Armed Forces “does not typically investigate sightings of unexplained phenomena outside the context of investigating potential threats or distress.”
Meanwhile in the U.S., Pentagon UFO programs have operated under various acronyms for years. Questions about the national security implications of sightings have even sparked rare cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, which was evident during Tuesday’s congressional hearing and with a late 2021 Senate initiative to establish a new UAP research office.
“One of the interesting and noteworthy points about the study of UAPs is that everything I have seen both in Canada and the United States is that there is no partisanship on this question,” Powell said. “All parties seem to be interested in this subject, and it’s not a political issue.”
“If there’s any issue that we can be nonpartisan on in Canada, it should be this one,” Maguire added.
Ontario NDP MP Matthew Green agrees, saying Canada has nothing to lose by investigating UAP.
“If the testimony coming out of the States provides the public with a glimpse into the seriousness in which they’re taking it, then I think it would be well-advised for us to follow in the same pursuit,” Green told CTVNews.ca on Tuesday from Ottawa. “If they’re having public hearings of this nature, I can only begin to imagine what they already privately know.”
With files from CTV National News field producer William Dugan
US’ easing of travel and remittances to Cuba met with contention
The country’s recent announcement of a series of steps to loosen some Trump-era restrictions on travelling to Cuba and the transfer of family remittances between the two countries has been met with some contention.
Yesterday the government said it will aim to issue 20 000 visas under a family reunification programme for Cubans to join their relatives in the US and will also permit more commercial flights to destinations beyond Havana for group educational trips and lift a US$1 000 limit on quarterly remittances.
However, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said the decision doesn’t change the embargoes which have been in place since 1962 nor most of Trump’s measures against the country.
“It’s a limited step in the right direction. To know the real scope of this announcement, we must wait for the publication of the regulation that will determine its application,” said Rodriguez.
“To be clear, those who still believe that increasing travel will breed democracy in Cuba are simply in a state of denial. Today’s announcement risks sending the wrong message to the wrong people at the wrong time and for all the wrong reasons. For decades, the world has been travelling to Cuba and nothing has changed,” said Menendez.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have hurt the Cuban economy, with fuel scarcity causing blackouts and limiting public transport.
According to statistics from the US Customs and Border Protection, the economic crisis has driven more Cubans to try to migrate to the US. Since October, almost 80 000 Cubans have crossed the US-Mexico border, more than double the number in 2021.
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