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New rules will allow Canadian passengers to avoid quarantine in Hawaii –



Canadians travelling to Hawaii this winter will be allowed to avoid quarantine so long as they show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, under new rules announced Thursday.

Air Canada and the Calgary-based WestJet made the arrangements with Hawaii, which will come into effect in December.

David Ige, governor of the state, said Canada represents the second-largest international market for the islands.

“Canada and Hawaii share a close bond, and we have been overwhelmed with the calls and emails from our Canadian friends asking when they can safely come back to Hawaii,” he said during a media availability.

Under the adapted rules, passengers can avoid quarantine so long as they show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.

Tests musts be booked with an approved lab or pharmacy.

The Calgary-based WestJet says it will begin a new testing program in Alberta for guests travelling to Hawaii within 72 hours. Testing costs $150 per person, and guests are responsible for ensuring they receive a test in order to display negative results prior to boarding. (Darryl Dyck/Bloomberg)

“Programs like this that provide viable, effective and alternative options to blanket quarantine requirements are an important step to safely reopen travel around the world,” said a spokesperson with Air Canada in a release.

The spokesperson said the airline would have more information in the coming days regarding how and where Canadians across the country may obtain a health certificate, and the process to follow.

WestJet said negative test results are required before departure from its laboratory partner DynaLife. The airline said that testing is currently available only in Alberta but is open to all Canadian residents.

“Safety remains our number one priority and we thank Governor Ige and the State of Hawaii for providing this opportunity for Canadians to enjoy all that the islands have to offer while safely supporting the tourism industry,” said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet’s chief commercial officer, in a release.

Travelling south for winter

The Canadian Snowbird Association estimates that around 30 per cent of its members will flock south this winter, despite Global Affairs advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel abroad.

The Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to non-essential traffic, but snowbirds can still fly to the United States and ship their cars.

Upon a return in Alberta, eligible international travellers can take a COVID-19 test at one of two ports of entry — the Calgary International Airport or the Coutts border crossing — to reduce quarantine time.

The pilot program, a partnership between Alberta and the federal government, had been utilized by nearly 2,000 travellers since it launched earlier this month as of Nov. 9.

WATCH | How Alberta’s border pilot can reduce the self-isolation period to about 48 hours:

Travellers entering Canada by land or air through Alberta will soon have the option of being tested for COVID-19 at the border in a move that could shorten quarantine times. 2:01

The border project is expected to run up to 26 weeks or until 52,000 participants are enrolled, whichever comes first. The province intends to add the Edmonton International Airport early in 2021.

If tests come back negative, travellers can leave quarantine as long as they remain in Alberta for the first 14 days. Then, they must get a second test six or seven days after arrival at any participating community pharmacy.

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Trudeau nominates first judge of colour to sit on Supreme Court



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday made history by nominating the first judge of color to sit on the country’s Supreme Court, which has only ever had white justices in its 146-year existence.

Mahmud Jamal, who has been a judge on Ontario‘s court of appeal since 2019, trained as a lawyer and appeared before the Supreme Court in 35 appeals addressing a range of civil, constitutional, criminal and regulatory issues.

“He’ll be a valuable asset to the Supreme Court – and that’s why, today, I’m announcing his historic nomination to our country’s highest court,” Trudeau said on Twitter.

Trudeau has frequently said there is a need to address systemic racism in Canada.

Jamal, born in Nairobi in 1967, emigrated with his family to Britain in 1969 where he said he was “taunted and harassed because of my name, religion, or the color of my skin.”

In 1981 the family moved to Canada, where his “experiences exposed me to some of the challenges and aspirations of immigrants, religious minorities, and racialized persons,” he said in a document submitted to support his candidacy.

Canada is a multicultural country, with more than 22% of the population comprised of minorities and another 5% aboriginal, according to the latest census.

“We know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism every single day,” Trudeau said last year.

Jamal will replace Justice Rosalie Abella, who is due to retire from the nine-person court on July 1.


(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Donors pledge $1.5 billion for Venezuelan migrants, humanitarian crisis



More than 30 countries and two development banks on Thursday pledged more than $1.5 billion in grants and loans to aid Venezuelan migrants fleeing a humanitarian crisis, as well as their host countries and vulnerable people still in the country.

The $954 million in grants announced at a donors’ conference hosted by Canada – which included pledges of $407 million from the United States and C$115 million Canadian dollars ($93.12 million) from Canada – exceeded the $653 million announced at a similar event last year.

But that fell short of the needs of countries hosting the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have left their country since 2015, as the once-prosperous nation’s economy collapsed into a years-long hyperinflationary recession under socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Most have resettled in developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who have themselves seen their budgets stretched thin due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Does this cover all needs? Of course not,” Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters. “We will have to continue to encourage donors to support the response.”

At the conference, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso announced that the country – which hosts some 430,000 Venezuelans – would begin a new process to regularize migrants’ status. That came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the 1.8 million Venezuelans it hosts.

Karina Gould, Canada‘s minister for international development, said the amount pledged showed donors were eager to support such efforts.

“There is that recognition on behalf of the global community that there needs to be support to ensure that that generosity can continue, and can actually deepen, in host countries,” Gould said.

In addition, the World Bank and Inter-American Developmemt Bank pledged $600 million in loans to address the crisis, Gould said.

($1 = 1.2349 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Luc Cohen, Michelle Nichols and David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Aurora Ellis)

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Ecuador to start new ‘normalization process’ for Venezuelan migrants



Ecuador will implement a new “normalization process” for the 430,000 Venezuelan migrants living in the South American country, President Guillermo Lasso said on Thursday, without providing further details of the plan.

Lasso’s announcement, at a conference hosted by Canada intended to raise money to support the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have fled an economic crisis in the South American country, came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the nearly 2 million Venezuelans it hosts.

“I am pleased to announce the beginning of a new regularization process, which in order to be an effective, lasting and permanent policy should be complemented by strategies for economic integration and labor market access,” Lasso said.

Ecuador in late 2019 launched a regularization process for Venezuelans who arrived before July of that year. That included two-year humanitarian visas meant to facilitate access to social services.

Lasso said Ecuador needed outside funding to continue caring for Venezuelan migrants, estimating that more than 100,000 additional migrants were expected to arrive before the end of the year.

“I call on our partners in the international community to be co-responsible and have solidarity with Venezuelan migrants and refugees, and with the countries that receive them,” he said.


(Reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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