Canada’s foreign affairs minister denies any link between the federal government’s ongoing efforts to free two Canadians detained in China and Ottawa’s delay in releasing a decision stemming from its national security review of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
The minister’s comments come after the United Kingdom this week banned Huawei from its 5G telecom network, following in the footsteps of Australia and the United States.
Observers have since pointed out that Canada is the last member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance — which also includes New Zealand — to not restrict or ban the use of Huawei equipment in some form or another.
In an interview with The West Block that aired Sunday, guest host Farah Nasser asked Minister François-Philippe Champagne if the government’s 5G decision on Huawei is the only “bargaining chip” that Canada has left in its efforts to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, imprisoned in China since late 2018.
Champagne said he “would not make any link” between the two files.
“There’s really no link between the two.”
“One is … we take the decision to protect the national security and the best interest of Canadians, and the other one is to continue to advocate for two Canadians which have been arbitrarily detained,” he said.
Kovrig and Spavor were detained in December 2018, a move Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described as an “obvious” attempt by China to put “political pressure” on Canada for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on Canadian soil.
The two men were formally charged with alleged espionage in June 2020.
American authorities criminally charged Meng and Huawei and requested Meng’s extradition to the U.S. to stand trial; she has denied the charges and is fighting her extradition in an ongoing case in British Columbia.
The matter has strained relations between Beijing — which has claimed Meng’s arrest was political — and the Canadian government, which amid all this has been conducting a national security review of Huawei Technologies Inc.
The review is expected to determine whether the tech company should be permitted to be involved in the development of Canada’s 5G network.
The Liberal government delayed its long-awaited decision until after last fall’s federal election. In the meantime, the detention of the two Michaels is nearing 600 days.
Asked on The West Block what other measures Canada is considering to obtain their freedom, Champagne suggested Washington also has a leading role to play in achieving a resolution.
“I think we need to also look towards Washington, because this all started there and certainly we are working with our American allies to try to see what more can be done,” Champagne said.
“And more broadly, I’ve been talking to make sure we’re looking with our allies around the world about an international protocol to prevent, to the extent possible, arbitrary detention — talking with like-mindeds to make sure that … whatever state who wants to engage with arbitrary detention would be facing consequences for their action.”
Champagne told Nasser he’s been dealing with the issue of Kovrig and Spavor’s detention “almost on a daily basis” and his priority remains to achieve their “immediate release.”
“This is not only now a Canadian issue, it has become a world issue and I’m sure that China is taking notice, that this is hurting (themselves)… that arbitrary detention is not the way to resolve conflict in 2020,” Champagne said.
“We will be relentless and we will use every opportunity to advocate for the release and to get consular access in accordance with the Vienna convention.”
Canada ‘appalled’ by Russian hackers targeting COVID-19 vaccine research
Canada, the U.S and the U.K. this week also showed they’ve had their eyes on Russia, releasing news on Thursday that a Russian hacking group has been targeting coronavirus vaccine research in all three countries.
The group “almost certain operates as part of Russian intelligence services,” the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s cyberspy agency, said in a statement.
Champagne told The West Block that the federal government is “deeply concerned” and “appalled” by those hacking efforts during a global pandemic.
“It’s really disturbing and it’s times like that where we say we need to strengthen our resolve to make sure that we are vigilant first,” said Champagne, who issued a statement on Thursday about defending national interests from “malicious state actors,” but did not mention Russia by name.
Nasser asked Champagne what specifically Canada will do in response, beyond calling out “irresponsible state behaviour,” as described in Thursday’s statement.
“Working with our allies, I would say, that’s the best place we can be,” he responded.
“To make sure that what our government is doing when it comes to security, when it comes to protecting our IP, when it comes to protecting firms that are doing fundamental research to help Canadians, we will use every means at our disposal to protect them, to defend them and to make sure that we call it for what it is.
“And this is a good example of calling out Russia, in this case very specifically, of trying to disturb and target some of the research activities going on in Canada.”
Source: – Globalnews.ca
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday – CBC.ca
Canada’s death toll from COVID-19 passed 12,000 on Sunday, a day after the country’s chief public health officer said there is still a “window of opportunity” to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Canada remains on a troubling path for new infections as case counts continue to mount, Dr. Theresa Tam said Saturday, adding that the most recent infection rates indicate the country is on track to hit as many as 10,000 new cases a day by next month.
“If we continue on the current pace, our longer range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December,” Tam said in a statement.
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“Right now, we have a window of opportunity to act collectively together with public health authorities to bring the infection rate down to a safer trajectory.”
Canada is currently recording caseloads at about half that level, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 5,335 between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.
Tam said Canada is also averaging 76 deaths a day and more than 2,100 people in hospital.
People 80 years and older are experiencing Canada’s highest COVID-19 death rate, and there are now more and larger outbreaks in long-term care facilities, hospitals, group living settings, Indigenous communities and remote areas, she said.
“Those developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Tam said.
Tam redoubled her calls for Canadians to heed public health advice, limit their social interactions and practise physical distancing in a bid to bring surging case counts under control.
Her assessment came as case counts continued to soar in numerous provinces.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 366,518, with 62,375 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 12,012.
Ontario reported 1,708 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 deaths on Sunday, with nearly 54,000 tests completed. Locally, there were 503 new cases in Peel Region, 463 in nearby Toronto and 185 in York Region. On Saturday, the province logged case numbers just shy of Friday’s one-day record as it reported 1,822 new diagnoses.
Officials in the province have said it could take at least two weeks to see some improvements after the added restrictions were imposed on Monday.
Quebec set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.
Alberta also broke its own record, reporting 1,731 new cases of the virus on Saturday. It also counted five new deaths.
Case numbers also jumped sharply in Manitoba, where officials recorded 487 new infections and 10 new deaths on Saturday. Among those who died was a boy under the age of 10, officials said, though they offered no other details.
On Sunday, RCMP officers prevented people from accessing the parking lot of the Church of God south of Steinbach, Man. Police recently issued two fines to a minister at the church for attending a protest against COVID-19 restrictions and being at a Sunday religious service.
Under Manitoba’s public health restrictions, group sizes can’t exceed more than five people inside or outside. Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship must be closed to the public, including for drive-up or drive-thru services.
RCMP have blocked Church of God congregation from accessing the church parking lot, south of Steinbach. More than 100 cars line the highway. Audio of the service playing loudly. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcmb?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cbcmb</a> <a href=”https://t.co/W5SCksikuX”>pic.twitter.com/W5SCksikuX</a>
Saskatchewan reported 197 COVID-19 cases and one death Saturday.
The province ordered the suspension of team sports earlier this week until Dec. 17 after confirmed COVID-19 cases among several minor and recreational hockey teams. The Saskatchewan suspension applies to hockey and curling leagues and dance studios.
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In British Columbia, Fraser Health announced the closure of an elementary school in Surrey after confirming 16 COVID-19 cases.
Newton Elementary School will close for two weeks, said Fraser Health.
B.C. reported a daily record of 911 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province will update its numbers Monday.
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Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, both involving young males aged 10 and 19.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday morning, there were more than 62.3 million cases of COVID-19 recorded worldwide, with more than 39.8 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The global death toll stood at more than 1.4 million.
Hong Kong reported 115 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday, including 109 locally transmitted, the highest in nearly four months. The government has ordered schools to close from Wednesday until after the Christmas holidays.
India has reported 41,180 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, with the daily toll staying below the 50,000-mark for the fourth week.
New Delhi also got some respite as it added fewer than 5,000 cases for the first time in a month.
The New Delhi government decided that half its employees, barring senior officials, will be allowed to work from home starting Monday. India reported another 496 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 136,696. India’s confirmed cases since the pandemic began are more than 9.3 million, second behind the U.S.
The United Sates has reported four million cases for November, as of Saturday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That’s more than double the 1.9 million cases reported the previous month. The total has recorded more than 13.2 million cases of the respiratory illness since the pandemic began, the most of any country.
The Czech Republic’s government has announced it is easing measures imposed to contain coronavirus infections. Sunday’s move was made possible by the falling numbers of new confirmed cases.
The day-to-day increase of new cases reached 2,667 on Saturday. The country of almost 10.7 million has had 518,649 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 8,054 fatalities.
Health Minister Jan Blatny said all stores, restaurants and bars can reopen on Thursday, with limitations on seating. Stores and shopping centres will also still have to limit the number of shoppers.
Alberta reducing quarantine times with coronavirus testing pilot – Canada Immigration News
Alberta is the first province to reduce quarantine time for incoming travellers by offering coronavirus tests at certain airports and land border crossings.
Travellers must register for the pilot by completing an application form up to five days before arrival. If their test comes back negative, they will not have to complete the full 14-day quarantine period.
All other returning international travellers must follow the mandatory quarantine period, the Alberta webpage says. People who apply for the reduced quarantine pilot still have to arrive in Canada with an adequate 14-day quarantine plan.
So far the program is only available to international travellers arriving through Coutts land border crossing, and Calgary International Airport. The pilot is expected to expand to other locations, but for now passengers arriving from other airport are not eligible. The Edmonton International Airport is expecting to join the pilot in early 2021, according to CBC.
Travellers who are eligible for the pilot include returning Canadians, and foreign nationals who are exempt from travel restrictions. There are a number of scenarios where foreign national are exempt, such an international travellers coming to Canada to visit immediate or extended family members. These travellers must be coming for more than 15 days, or have an essential reason to be in Canada for a shorter amount of time.
International travellers who are exempt under another category may also be eligible for the pilot. International students going to a Designated Learning Institution with a coronavirus readiness plan, for example, were added to the list of exempt travellers last month. Work permit holders, and some approved permanent residents are also exempt.
Canada also opened the borders to foreign nationals coming to Canada for compassionate reasons, like to care for a sick loved one, to be present in the final moments of life, or to attend a funeral.
Travellers who are not eligible for reduced quarantine include those with COVID-19 symptoms, who have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within 14 days of arriving in Alberta, and those who do not have an acceptable quarantine plan. People who left a foreign country and transferred flights at another Canadian airport before arriving in Calgary are also not eligible. Travellers must be coming to the approved port of entry directly from abroad.
Also, travellers are not eligible if they are leaving Alberta for another Canadian province in less than 14 days. They may be eligible, however, if they are leaving Canada from Alberta within 14 days.
© 2020 CIC News All Rights Reserved
Environment Canada issues warnings for windy conditions along South Coast – CBC.ca
Winds could kick up to 80 kilometres an hour along the South Coast on Sunday and Monday, according to Environment Canada, which also issued winter storm warnings for the northwest corner of the province.
Special weather statements for windy conditions were issued Saturday for Metro Vancouver, Greater Victoria, Eastern Vancouver Island, Howe Sound, the Sunshine Coast and the Southern Gulf Islands.
Environment Canada said damaging winds gusting up to 80 km/h could develop Sunday afternoon and into Monday morning due to a cold front.
A wind warning was also issued for Haida Gwaii as winds there are expected to reach 90 km/h starting Saturday night.
Environment Canada also issued a winter storm warning for the northwest corner of the province, saying strong winds and up to 25 centimetres of snow are expected to accumulate by Sunday morning.
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Coronavirus: Here’s a look at what provinces, territories have said about vaccine plans – Global News
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday – CBC.ca
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