The Canadian Press
LONDON — The British government is gearing up to ban international arrivals from four more countries — Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines — amid concerns over new virus variants but opted against including European nations that are facing a resurgence of the virus. The Department for Transport said Friday that the number of countries on its “red list” will reach 39 when the latest restrictions take effect in England beginning April 9. The other nations of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have similar lists. Under the terms of the travel bans, international visitors who have departed from or travelled through red-list countries in the preceding 10 days are refused entry into England. Countries on the list include Brazil and South Africa, where two of the most concerning virus variants have been identified. British and Irish citizens and people who have residence rights in the U.K. can enter, as commercial flights are not banned. However, they must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days at their own expense and must take a COVID-19 test on days two and eight of their self-isolation. No European nations are on the British red list, even though much of Europe is witnessing a resurgence of the virus that has prompted many countries to reimpose lockdown restrictions. Health experts say the surge is being driven by virus variants, including the one first identified in Britain, that are sweeping the continent. The World Health Organization on Thursday bemoaned the slow pace of vaccinations in European nations other than Britain, saying they were losing the race to protect their people. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has faced questions in recent days as to why France, which is suffering one of the worst outbreaks in Europe, is not on the list. Yet putting France on the red list could have serious implications for trade flows in and out of the U.K., given its reliance on traffic from cross-Channel ports. The U.K. transport department said the majority of cases of the South African variant detected in England so far were linked to international travel and that very few are thought to have come from Europe. The measures are aimed at reducing the risk posed by new virus variants into the U.K., which has recorded Europe’s highest COVID-related death toll, with over 126,500 deaths. The U.K. has seen new coronavirus infections and deaths fall sharply since the winter amid a strict 3-month lockdown and a rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines. The U.K. has now given a first vaccine shot to over 31 million people — 46% of its population — much more than the European Union average of 5.6% of the population. Earlier this week, restrictions on gatherings in England were relaxed following the big fall in cases — the U.K. is recording around 4,500 new infections every day compared with around 70,000 a day earlier this year. Groups of up to six people, or two households, are allowed to meet outdoors. Johnson on Friday urged people to follow the rules and to not mix indoors during this Easter weekend even if people have received a vaccine shot. “Even though your friends and family members may be vaccinated, the vaccines are not giving 100% protection, and that’s why we just need to be cautious,” he said during a question and answer session on Twitter. “We don’t think that they entirely reduce or remove the risk of transmission.” ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Pan Pylas, The Associated Press
2 NDP candidates resign after social media comments on Israel, Auschwitz – Global News
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the antisemitic comments by two of his party’s candidates who resigned were “completely wrong.”
“Antisemitism is real,” Singh said during a campaign stop in Essex, Ont.
“We’re seeing a scary rise in antisemitism, and we are unequivocally opposed, and we’ll confront it.”
The party confirmed Wednesday that Dan Osborne, the candidate for the Nova Scotia riding of Cumberland-Colchester, and Sidney Coles, the candidate for Toronto-St. Paul’s, ended their campaigns and “agreed to educate themselves further about antisemitism.”
Federal election: Jagmeet Singh one-on-one
Singh said antisemitism has no place in his party and the candidates made the right decision to resign.
“In addition, they’re talking about the importance of getting training,” Singh said.
Coles, who has since deleted her Twitter account, was reported to have posted misinformation about Israel being linked to missing COVID-19 vaccines.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, a non-profit human rights organization, shared images purportedly from Coles’ account over the weekend. Coles later apologized on social media.
Osborne was reported to have tweeted to Oprah in 2019 asking if Auschwitz was a real place, referring to the Nazi-run concentration camp in Poland during the Second World War.
He responded to backlash about the post on Twitter over the weekend, saying he had tweeted it when he was a teenager.
“I want to offer an apology,” Osborne tweeted Sunday. “The role of Auschwitz and the history of the Holocaust is one we should never forget.
“Antisemitism should be confronted and stopped. I can’t recall posting that, I was 16 then and can honestly say I did not mean to cause any harm.”
Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of policy at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, said in a news release that he had been in contact with the New Democrats. He was relieved the candidates stepped down, he added.
“We thank NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh for his leadership in ensuring this outcome,” Kirzner-Roberts said.
“Amid rising Jew-hatred in this country, all political parties and leaders must send a message, loud and clear, that antisemitism will not be tolerated in any shape or form.”
A handful of candidates from other parties have also dropped out during the election.
Last week the Conservative Party dropped Lisa Robinson, the candidate for the Beaches-East York riding in Toronto, after Islamophobic social media posts surfaced. Robinson has claimed the account is fake and she has previously reported it to police.
Liberal Raj Saini resigned earlier in the campaign after facing allegations that he harassed a female staff member, claims he firmly denies.
Singh condemned Coles’ posts during a campaign stop on Tuesday, but did not demand she step down. At that time, he said the candidate’s “unequivocal apology” was the right thing to do.
Singh didn’t say Wednesday why he didn’t push for a resignation sooner, but reiterated that it was the right decision for the candidates.
Liberal candidate’s Montreal posters defaced with swastikas
The New Democrats are filling their schedule for the final push before the election.
Singh was greeted by hundreds of people cheering and holding signs during stops in London West and Niagara Centre _ both of which went Liberal in the last election. He told supporters to vote with their conscience.
The NDP leader has continuedto dismiss that people should follow the idea of voting strategically and kept his sights set on Justin Trudeau during the final push.
“There is a cost to voting for the Liberals,” he said.
Singh will also be taking his message to the Ontario ridings of Hamilton and Brampton East.
He will end the busy day with a livestream on Twitch, an online gaming site. Singh, who has embraced social media trends and videos, said it’s a way to connect with potential voters.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
Toronto NDP candidate resigns after discovery of controversial social media posts – CTV News Toronto
A Toronto New Democratic Party candidate has resigned after controversial social media posts were unearthed in which she links a lack of vaccines in Canada to Israel.
On Wednesday, the party confirmed that Sidney Coles, who was running in the Toronto-St. Paul’s riding, as well as Dan Osborne, a candidate running in Nova Scotia, have “ended their campaigns.”
“They have agreed to educate themselves further about antisemitism,” spokesperson George Soule told CTV News.
“New Democrats stand united against discrimination of all kinds. We are committed to taking lasting and meaningful steps toward ending prejudice and hatred in all its forms.”
Screenshots of Tweets posted by Coles earlier in the year started to resurface over the weekend. In the social media posts, Coles appears to indicate that Israel was responsible for alleged missing COVID-19 vaccine doses in the United States.
The tweets were shared by Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, among others.
The organization demanded a “retraction and apology” for the remarks.
Earlier this week, Coles took to Twitter to apologize for her social media posts, saying that she posted “unsubstantiated theories about vaccine supply linked to Israel.”
“These comments weren’t based on evidence. I recognize this frame is a common anti-Semitic trope, though that was never my intent,” she said on Sept. 13.
“I should not have made this link and apologize and retract those statements. I will continue to stand firmly against anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination in all its forms.”
Coles’ Twitter page has since been deactivated and her profile on the NDP website is no longer available.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies acknowledged the apology, but said that the comments remain concerning given rise of anti-Semitism globally and “escalating incidences of Jew hate in her Toronto-St. Paul’s riding.”
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said that those comments have “no place” in the party.
“We’re seeing a scary rise in anti-Semitism,” he said. “I want folks to know that our values are values of inclusivity, making sure everyone feels welcome and making sure everyone feels like they belong.”
“Those messages were completely unacceptable and the right decision was made.”
The PPC's rise demands more fulsome media coverage – iPolitics.ca
Since this late-summer election kicked off one month ago, the campaign’s biggest surprise has been the meteoric rise of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).
An Ekos poll from Sept. 9 pegged national support for the party at a whopping 11.2 per cent, with impressive backing in Alberta (19 per cent), Quebec (13 per cent), and Ontario (11 per cent).
While Ekos has consistently shown higher support of the PPC than other polling firms in recent weeks, virtually all public polling in this campaign has revealed that it’s attracting far more voters than it did two years ago when it debuted as a national party. On election day in 2019, the nascent party earned a paltry 1.62 per cent of the popular vote and not one seat in the House of Commons.
Today, the far-right-wing party led by former Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier is enjoying a new lease on life. While the PPC’s supporters aren’t monolithic, it’s safe to say they represent a minority of Canadians who are deeply angry about the sweeping government interventions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months.
Before the pandemic, Bernier’s party was known mainly for preaching pro-freedom, small-government solutions. Its emphatically right-wing platform didn’t even resonate much with the country’s most conservative voters in the 2019 election.
But the pandemic’s government-imposed lockdowns, widespread job losses, and now the vaccine passports introduced by the federal and provincial governments, have reinvigorated the PPC’s electoral prospects.
Bernier has quickly transformed his party into a sanctuary for a pernicious coalition of cult-like anti-vaxxers and Trumpist conspiracy theorists. Throughout this election campaign, many of these fanatics have repeatedly demonstrated that they’re not above mob-like protests — attended by young children — in which profanities are hurled and physical violence is sometimes triggered.
While the PPC’s most repugnant elements don’t represent all the party’s supporters, these zealots and their leader have thrust the movement into the news-media spotlight for all the wrong reasons in this campaign.
In a video posted to his Twitter account early last month, Bernier boasted to his supporters that he refuses to be vaccinated. It was a reckless message, when the Delta-driven fourth wave began spreading across much of the country.
Then, in the campaign’s third week, the president of the local PPC riding association threw gravel at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as he left a campaign event in London, Ont. The 25-year-old man has since been arrested, but his affiliation with Bernier’s party has put a chill down the spines of millions of Canadians.
Finally, on Labour Day weekend, Bernier released an inflammatory video in which he uttered this opening salvo: “When tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty.” The video has since gone viral on social media, while being almost universally excoriated for quoting the words of John F. Kennedy to justify the party’s crusade against “government overreach” during an ongoing public-health crisis.
Until last week, the PPC was scarcely covered by mainstream news outlets. While that lack of coverage, and exclusion from the leaders’ debates, undoubtedly incensed the party’s brass, it also meant it wasn’t subjected to close public scrutiny.
For much of the campaign, large news outlets ostensibly ignored Bernier’s party, so as not to amplify its dangerous messages, thereby starving it of oxygen and blunting its political appeal. Although the Green party has been consistently dwarfed by the PPC in the polls, it’s received far more news coverage than Bernier’s — until recently.
But the news outlets’ initial approach was ill-conceived and unsustainable. As the PPC’s supporters have grown steadily more vicious in this campaign — often attempting to drown out Trudeau’s events by shouting expletives — the news media have been forced to reluctantly shed light on the party and its often-dubious motives.
As a result, the fourth estate has exposed an increasingly popular, albeit reckless, party beholden to anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists, as our country emerges from the most prolonged economic and public-health crisis in a century.
In the campaign’s final week, Canadians are more mindful of the PPC’s surging popularity, and how it might affect the election’s outcome.
That in itself is a good thing. As a democratic society, we can’t begin to genuinely understand the menacing elements of a movement without reporting on them extensively in the press.
It’s not about amplifying their voices, but reporting on them accurately and forthrightly so we can better understand the grave danger some of these individuals pose to Canada’s pandemic recovery.
It remains to be seen precisely how Bernier’s party will affect election day. But instead of ignoring the party in hopes that its appeal will magically disappear, news outlets will serve voters better by producing stories that seek to meaningfully expose the PPC’s dark underbelly.
Andrew Perez is a Toronto-based communications and public affairs professional who has volunteered for Liberal parties at the federal and provincial levels. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewaperez.
This post was copy-edited after publication.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.
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