Object shot down over Lake Huron likely landed in Canadian waters, officials say
The U.S. military said on Monday it had recovered critical electronics from the suspected Chinese spy balloon downed by a U.S. fighter jet off South Carolina’s coast on Feb. 4, including key sensors presumably used for intelligence gathering.
“Crews have been able to recover significant debris from the site, including all of the priority sensor and electronics pieces identified as well as large sections of the structure,” the U.S. military’s Northern Command said in a statement.
The balloon, which Beijing denies was a government spy vessel, spent a week flying over the U.S. and Canada before U.S. President Joe Biden ordered it shot down. The episode strained ties between Washington and Beijing, leading America’s top diplomat to postpone a trip to China.
It also led to the U.S. military scouring the skies for other objects that were not being captured by radar, leading to an unprecedented three shootdowns in three days.
The White House on Monday defended downing those three objects, even as it acknowledged that officials had no indication the objects were intended for surveillance in the same manner as the suspected spy balloon.
The three objects — including one shot down Sunday over Lake Huron, another downed Saturday in Yukon and a third in Alaska on Friday — were travelling at such a low altitude as to pose a risk to civilian air traffic, said White House national security spokesperson John Kirby.
While the Biden administration does not yet have evidence that they were equipped for spying purposes — or even that they belonged to China — officials have not ruled that out, he said.
“These were decisions based purely and simply on what was in the best interests of the American people,” Kirby said.
“Because we have not been able to definitively assess what these most recent objects are, we acted out of an abundance of caution.”
Beijing said Monday it had no information on the latest three objects. The Chinese government said the balloon shot down off the Carolinas was a civilian research craft that had mistakenly blown off course, and accused the United States of overreacting.
Kirby spoke from the White House podium hours after China alleged that more than 10 U.S. high-altitude balloons have flown in its airspace during the past year without its permission.
American officials have vigorously denied the claim, with Kirby saying Monday, “We are not flying surveillance balloons over China.”
None of the three most recent objects have been recovered, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters in Brussels, where he was scheduled to attend a NATO defence ministers meeting this week.
The U.S. Air Force general overseeing North American airspace said a recovery effort will be undertaken to gain more information about an octagonal object shot down over Lake Huron.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and Northern Command, said the object likely fell into Canadian waters.
However, Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand said Canada didn’t have any evidence to suggest the debris drifted into Canadian water.
Either way, Canadian Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, who is also the minister responsible for the Canadian Coast Guard, said CCGS Griffon will soon be in Lake Huron to help recover debris in a “key search area.”
In Yukon, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP are leading a joint mission to the area where an object was brought down on Saturday.
Trudeau said wintry weather in the northern territory is making the search for debris difficult.
The unidentified object was taken down over sparsely populated territory, he said, and whatever is recovered could pose a safety risk.
Here are 5 ways Budget 2023 will impact your wallet
Much of the federal Liberal government’s 2023 budget is geared towards helping Canadian households make ends meet — or at the very least, for example, shaving a few dollars off the cost of a concert ticket.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland teed up the 2023 spending plans as providing support for vulnerable Canadians who are feeling stressed about their own budgets after a year of high inflation and rapidly rising interest rates.
Some proposed measures will make a direct impact on households, while others will change the kinds of charges and interest rates businesses can levy at Canadians.
Here are five big takeaways from the federal budget you’ll want to know about.
Tax rebate aimed at grocery affordability
One highly touted measure in the 2023 budget is a one-time tax rebate aimed at helping Canadians cope with rampant food inflation.
The so-called “grocery rebate,” as reported by Global News and others ahead of the budget’s release on Tuesday, would be aimed at lower-income households. It would be delivered through the existing GST tax credit mechanism, with an estimated 11 million Canadians and families expected to qualify to receive the support.
The rebate is expected to deliver $467 directly to a family of four, $234 to a single Canadian without kids and $225 to the average senior.
Despite the name, the government won’t be checking that the rebate is spent directly on groceries.
But given that prices for food from the grocery store clocked in at 10.6 per cent annual inflation in February and has remained in double-digits since the summer, groceries continue to be major stressors on household budgets.
The timeline for the rollout of this rebate is uncertain and depends on when and if the 2023 budget is passed in Parliament.
Cracking down on ‘junk fees’
In the 2023 budget, the Liberal government is declaring war on “junk fees” — defined as “unexpected, hidden and additional fees” that crop up on everything from concert tickets to airfare, from telecom services to excessive shipping costs.
Details were sparse on how and when the government would tackle these fees, but the budget said Ottawa would work with regulatory agencies, provinces and territories to reduce unfair and excessive costs on some common expenses.
The United States government recently announced a similar crackdown on fees as consumers have swiftly complained online in the past few years about the exorbitant amounts charged for tickets to popular concerts, for example.
While some measures in the 2023 budget might reduce what you pay on airfare, others could see those costs rise.
The air travellers security charge (ATSC), which is typically paid by passengers on their tickets and helps to fund security screening and baggage protection services in Canada, is set to rise under the 2023 budget proposals.
The ATSC rate for a round-trip domestic flight would rise almost $5 to $19.87 under the new regime, while an international flight will see the charge hiked by nearly $9 to $34.42 on a flight out of Canada.
Help on loans
The federal government also announced its plans to help Canadians dealing with high interest rates on some loans.
Debt-servicing payments have grown rapidly over the past year as the Bank of Canada raised interest rates in an effort to cool spending and take some stream out of inflation. A rise in the central bank’s benchmark policy rate affects multiple kinds of debt, including mortgages, lines of credit and credit cards.
For Canadians struggling with mortgage payments after a year of rate hikes, Ottawa proposed a new mortgage code of conduct in the 2023 budget.
Through the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, the document would direct financial institutions to provide Canadians struggling to make mortgage payments with “fair and equitable access to relief measures.”
This could include adjusting payment schedules, extending amortizations on the loan or authorizing lump-sum payments, strategies some lenders already offer to clients who are in danger of defaulting on their mortgage.
Beyond mortgages, Ottawa is also planning to crack down on payday loans and predatory lenders.
The budget notes that these loans often target low-income and other vulnerable Canadians with a promise of quick relief at the cost of “very high interest rate loans” that can end up trapping consumers in a cycle of debt.
The Liberals are proposing to amend the Criminal Code to lower the threshold at which a rate of interest would be considered criminal from today’s annual rate of 47 per cent federally to 35 per cent, in line with the current rate in Quebec.
Payday lenders would also be able to charge Canadians no more than $14 per $100 borrowed under the new regime, bringing it down to the cap currently in place in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Standardizing chargers for devices
The federal government is also planning to cut down on the number of charging cables Canadians have lying around their kitchen drawers by standardizing the charging port for smartphones and other devices.
Following the lead of the European Union, which signalled it would mandate USB-C charging ports for small handheld devices and laptops by the end of 2024, Ottawa will also work with international partners to “explore implementing a standard charging port in Canada,” according to the budget.
The document said standardizing the charging port on phones and other devices could lower costs for Canadians and cut down on electronic waste.
Also in the vein of cutting down on waste, the Liberals are proposing a new “right to repair” framework for existing devices.
Currently, fixing broken appliances or devices can come with high fees or face delays when specific parts aren’t available.
The government is looking to roll out a framework in 2024 to make electronics easier to repair with spare parts expected to be readily accessible.
“By cutting down on the number of devices and appliances that are thrown out, we will be able to make life more affordable for Canadians and protect our environment,” the budget read.
Automatic tax filing to help low-income Canadians
Ottawa is also looking to help the estimated 12 per cent of Canadians who don’t currently file tax returns take advantage of benefits they might currently be missing out on.
Starting in 2023, the Canada Revenue Agency is expected to pilot a new “automatic filing system” to help vulnerable Canadians who don’t regularly file taxes receive the benefits they’re entitled to receive.
The government also intends to expand its existing auto-file program, File My Return, which sees low-income Canadians file returns by answering a few questions over the phone.
Ottawa plans to nearly triple the number of Canadians eligible for the auto-file program to two million by 2025.
PLAY to offer flights to Amsterdam from Hamilton airport
Amsterdam will be available to Canadian travellers on June 22
Hamilton, ON, March 28, 2023 – PLAY, a low-cost airline operating flights between Iceland and Europe, has added Amsterdam to its summer schedule. Tickets for the new route are now available for purchase, and the destination will be available for Canadian travellers when PLAY launches its inaugural flight out of Hamilton on June 22.
As a transatlantic carrier between Europe and North America, PLAY operates from its hub at Keflavik Airport in Iceland, perfectly positioned between the two continents.
From John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, Canadian passengers can fly to Amsterdam for as low as $169. Travel for this new route will be facilitated through Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
Since its first flight in June 2021, PLAY has expanded its fleet from three Airbus A320neo aircraft to six in 2022 and will operate 10 Airbus A320/321neo aircraft in 2023. The average age of PLAY’s aircraft is just 2.3 years, making the passengers’ journey comfortable, safe and reliable. With a network of nearly 40 destinations and over a million passengers flown since its launch, PLAY has a solid track record of an impressive 87 per cent on-time performance in 2023.
In Iceland, PLAY is a listed company in the Icelandic stock market with around 4.000 shareholders.
“We are thrilled to launch our services to Amsterdam and connect more customers to our affordable travel options,” said Birgir Jónsson, CEO, PLAY. “Amsterdam is one of Europe’s biggest hubs and a vital destination for our VIA operations between Canada and Europe. At PLAY, our mission is clear: to provide low-cost flights and offer our customers more value for their money. We aim to give the competition a run for their money with our low prices, providing people in Canada the opportunity to save money on their flights and enjoy more experiences in their destination. As we like to say at PLAY: Pay less, PLAY more.”
Learn more or book a flight at flyplay.com. See media assets here.
PLAY is a low-cost airline operating flights between Iceland and Europe, and North America as of 2022. Founded in Reykjavík in 2019 by a management team with significant experience in the aviation industry, the company operates flights on new Airbus A321NEO and A320NEO aircraft, offering streamlined, no-frills service that allows travelers to pay less and “play more.” Safety comes first for PLAY. On-time performance, simplicity, happiness and low prices are the airline’s core principles. The airline seeks to enable passengers to see the world, but not without considering its environmental impact. PLAY is being developed with sustainability initiatives and benchmarks in place to track and reduce fuel consumption, offset carbon emissions, and limit waste. Learn more or book a flight at flyplay.com or follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @PLAYairlines. For media resources, visit PLAY’s online newsroom, flyplay.com/media.
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The Recipee Band Brings Back The LIIVE Reunion
THE “LIIVE REUNION”
“Are you ready?”
Toronto, ON – The Recipee Band’s live music experience that ran for 7 years returns!! April 6th at the Black Pearl Restaurant, 184 Pearl Street Toronto. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite with limited tickets at the door. The event is 80% sold. Don’t miss out on the iconic sound of Canada’s “The Recipee” band and their special guests, Mike Ferfolia, Jarelle, Oh! The Artist, Yosvanii, and more. The group are known for the passion of their music, combining R&B, Gospel, Reggae, Pop, Rock, and Soul. Their first single, “Edges Laid (Tonight)” is an example of the strength of the combined talent each of the band members brings every time they step into the studio or live on stage. 2023 will bring two highly anticipated singles from “The Recipee” followed by an album in 2024.
“The Recipee” band members, Jason Larmond, Otis Williams, Juwayon Clarke, Jonathan Kerr and Omar Lunan, continue to perform at major events with Juno and Grammy winning artists. Their soulful sound and ability to connect with sold out audiences everywhere is respected both nationally and internationally. “The Recipee” has performed with Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Deborah Cox, Andy Kim, Ray Robinson, Daniel Caesar, Brandy, Foxy Brown, Ginuwine, Usher, 98 Degrees, Jordan Knight & Carvin Winans as well as Canada’s very own Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, Divine Brown, Shawn Desman & Shawn Hook. With a Canadian Urban Music Award, and drumming championships, the group is constantly evolving… securing their set at the table. Get your tickets now to The April 6th “Live Reunion” Music Event. “The Recipee” will bring the house down!!!
DATE: April 6, 2023
TIME: DOORS OPEN: 8PM DINNER: 9PM SHOW: 10PM
Follow the Recipee Band:
Media RSVP & Inquiries:
Sasha Stoltz Publicity:
Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804
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