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Passenger on Air Canada flight to Vancouver is not a new case of COVID-19: B.C. officials – Global News



B.C. health authorities say the passenger on an Air Canada flight from Montreal to Vancouver who later tested positive for COVID-19 is the same case reported in the province Thursday.

The airline says it was advised by health authorities on Saturday about the passenger, who flew into Vancouver on Feb. 14.

“Air Canada is working with public health authorities and has taken all recommended measures,” a spokesperson said in an email Sunday.

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6th case of COVID-19 reported in B.C., contracted by woman visiting Iran

B.C.’s Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) later said that female passenger travelled to Montreal from Iran, then flew Air Canada to Vancouver. The COVID-19 case was confirmed to have been contracted in Iran in late January.

The woman, who is in her 30s and is in the Fraser Health region, is recovering at home from a “mild” case of the new coronavirus.

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New case of COVID-19 reported in B.C. after woman returns from Iran

New case of COVID-19 reported in B.C. after woman returns from Iran

PHSA says passengers who were seated near the woman, as well as the flight crew, have been notified by the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Officials don’t believe any of those people are likely to contract the virus, however, saying they were notified as a precautionary measure.

Neither Air Canada nor the PHSA have provided a flight number for the Air Canada flight.

The Montreal Airport Authority said it had not heard of the case until hearing about it in media reports. It’s not yet known how long the woman was in Montreal before boarding the Air Canada flight.

COVID-19: Iran confirms 6th person has died from virus

Vancouver International Airport could not speak to whether any airport staff have had to be notified about the case, which is still considered presumptive by the province.

Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday said officials expect the case to be confirmed, however.

Fraser Health on Friday sent a letter to all school districts within its region — which includes Burnaby, New Westminster, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and the Tri-Cities — warning that contacts of the woman “may have attended schools in the region and are currently isolated.”

“These contacts were not showing any signs or sumptoms of illness while attending school, and remain well,” the health authority’s medical health officer Ingrid Tyler wrote in the letter.

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“There is no public health risk at schools in the region. There is also no evidence that novel coronavirus is circulating in the community.”

COVID-19: Iran says virus has spread to several cities, reports at 2 new deaths

COVID-19: Iran says virus has spread to several cities, reports at 2 new deaths

The case was the first one in Canada to not be connected to travel in China or the country’s Hubei province, where the COVID-19 outbreak first began.

Five other cases have been confirmed in B.C., although one of those has since recovered.

—With files from Brittany Henriques

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada to stop directly financing fossil fuel projects abroad, with narrow exceptions



Canada to stop directly financing fossil fuel projects abroad, with narrow exceptions

With weeks until an end-of-year deadline it agreed to last year, Canada has announced that it will end new direct subsidies for fossil fuel investments and projects abroad — including those owned by Canadian companies.

The policy released Thursday afternoon applies to the extraction, production, transportation, refining and marketing of crude oil, natural gas or thermal coal, as well as power generation projects that do not use technologies such as carbon capture to significantly reduce emissions.

The rules, which take effect Jan. 1, will apply to direct funding from federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations.

Advocates had feared that Canada would opt for a narrower definition of “international” that would nonetheless allow support for Canadian companies abroad, which climate-change organization Environmental Defence estimates makes up about 78 per cent of Canada’s international support for such projects.

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But the policy defines “international” as “operations outside of Canada’s jurisdiction in the fossil fuel energy sector regardless of owner domicile.” This means that the federal government is barring itself from funding even fossil fuel projects wholly owned by Canadian companies.

“It’s a very strong policy,” said Julia Levin, Environmental Defence’s national climate program manager. “It’s very encouraging that the government has obviously listened to the experts and come up with a broad definition.”

Ottawa is making the move weeks shy of a deadline it committed to, along with 38 other countries, in November 2021 at an international climate summit in Glasgow.

Out of high-income signatories, the United Kingdom, France, Finland, Sweden and European Investment Bank have already delivered policies hailed by international advocacy groups as meeting the high bar of the Glasgow statement. While the United States government has introduced policies to address the statement, it has released few details about how those policies are being implemented.

Levin said that Canada is showing leadership. “We’re joining the group of first movers who are aligning international public spending with the climate commitments,” she said.

Advocacy groups praised the policy, with organizations including the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the Center for International Environmental Law, Climate Action Network, Amnesty International Canada and others calling it an important step forward.

“Oil and gas is usually the elephant in the room in Canadian climate policy,” Claire O’Manique, a public finance analyst at Oil Change International, said in a statement. “Today’s guidance is a notable break from this norm.”

The policy is not without loopholes. An international project could be supported for reasons of national security or humanitarian and emergency response, and a government could decide to take a broad definition of either.

But even under such circumstances, the project would need to abide by criteria including compliance with the goals of the Paris Agreement and proof that it will not “delay or diminish the transition to renewables.” It would also have to be coherent with the goal to keep global temperature levels no higher than 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

A narrow carveout for natural gas power generation includes the additional criteria that there be no viable renewable alternative to the project and that it is replacing a higher-emitting fuel source.

The government defines the criteria around these exceptions as “strict,” and Levin agreed that they are robust. “If these conditions are implemented with rigour and integrity, it really rules out any future fossil financing for natural gas,” she said.

Thursday’s announcement does not cover domestic projects and, Natural Resources Canada said in a statement, does not “pre-determine the government of Canada’s future domestic framework on fossil-fuel subsidies.”

The department says Ottawa intends to eliminate “inefficient” domestic fossil fuel subsidies and additional “significant” subsidies domestically by next year, but details are few and far between.

“I was hoping with the release of this policy, they would outline the next steps. I was disappointed that that wasn’t there,” Levin said. “Projects in Canada are just as destructive as projects abroad. But this policy sets us up well for a strong domestic financing policy and I look forward to seeing the next steps in the immediate future.”

Reacting to the policy Thursday evening, the federal NDP noted that the elimination of international public financing for fossil fuel projects was part of its confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals, in which the party agreed to support the minority government in key votes until 2025.

“This wouldn’t have happened if the NDP weren’t at the table pushing for a better climate plan for Canadians. But the Liberals are still giving Canadians’ money to the ultra-rich CEOs who run massive, profitable oil and gas companies in Canada,” environment critic Laurel Collins said in a statement.

Collins said the policy is “too little, too late” and is calling on Ottawa to end all fossil fuel subsidies, period, including at home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

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MPs want to hear from witnesses on the government’s assault-style gun definition



Seven members of a parliamentary committee studying the Liberal gun bill have requested two special meetings to hear from witnesses on the government’s proposed definition of an assault-style firearm.

The definition, put forward by the government as an amendment, has prompted confusion and controversy as MPs go over Bill C-21 clause by clause.

The seven Liberal, Bloc Québécois and New Democrat MPs want clarity on the amendment amid concerns that the measure would outlaw many firearms commonly used by hunters.

In a letter to the committee chairman, the members say they were not able to question witnesses about the amendment because groups and experts had already completed their testimony.

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“We believe it is in the public interest to untangle and clarify the impacts of this amendment on Bill C-21 and the future of firearms in this country,”  the letter says.

Among other technical specifications concerning bore diameter and muzzle energy, the proposed definition includes a centrefire semi-automatic rifle or shotgun designed to accept a detachable magazine that can hold more than five cartridges.

MPs are poring over the latest list of firearms that would fall under the definition, which runs into the hundreds of pages.

Although Conservative MPs on the committee were not involved in the request for more witnesses, they have spoken out against the proposed amendment, characterizing it as an attack on law-abiding gun owners.

It was unclear on Thursday when — or even if — any additional meetings to hear witnesses would take place.

“I want to make sure we do whatever we can, and we are all committed to taking down the temperature wherever we can, to listen to whatever perspectives are out there and to have a healthy discussion based on facts,” Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed said during a committee meeting Thursday.

“This will hopefully allow us to hear from witnesses to address any of the outstanding issues that exist to improve the proposed law were appropriate, and to give Canadians the confidence that their government is listening.”

Noormohamed thanked committee member and Bloc MP Kristina Michaud for coming up with the idea of hearing additional testimony.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that through some “fine-tuning” of the wording, the government wants to enshrine a ban on assault-style firearms in the bill while ensuring it does not go after shotguns and rifles that are primarily used for hunting.

“The definition is something that we are very much committed to, but the actual list that goes with it, that’s something that we’re consulting on right now.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

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RCMP suspends contract with Ontario company linked to China



The federal government says the RCMP has suspended a contract with an Ontario company that has links with China.

Audrey Champoux, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Minister of Public Safety said Thursday that the contract with Sinclair Technologies has been paused.

No further details were available.

Earlier Thursday, the Department of National Defence said it was taking a second look at several contracts awarded to Sinclair Technologies as part of a broader government review.

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“We are investigating these procurements and the way in which this equipment is used, alongside counterparts in other government departments,” Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said in a statement.

“The government will take all measures necessary to ensure the security of our infrastructure.”

The decision followed a Radio-Canada report that the company based in Aurora, Ont., was awarded a contract to provide the RCMP with a radio frequency filtering system last year.

Sinclair’s parent company, Norsat International, has been owned by Chinese telecommunications firm Hytera since 2017. The Chinese government owns a 10 per cent stake of Hytera through an investment fund.

The United States Federal Communications Commission banned the use of Hytera technology for the purpose of public safety, government security and surveillance of critical infrastructure in 2021 when it was deemed a risk to national security.

In February, Hytera was indicted on 21 counts in an espionage case after U.S. officials alleged that the company stole trade secrets from U.S.-based competitor Motorola Solutions. Hytera has denied the allegations.

The Canadian Defence Department has awarded a number of contracts to Sinclair over the past decade, including one last year for the supply of antennas to Canada’s two main naval bases: Halifax and Esquimalt, B.C. The rest predate Hytera’s purchase of Norsat.

Sinclair spokeswoman Martine Cardozo declined to comment on Thursday.

“We have no comments at this time,” she said. “We are a completely independent entity. This is all I can say.”

While the RCMP has not responded to repeated requests for comment, Radio-Canada reported that the agency expressed confidence in the security of the system and said any contractors involved needed to obtain a security clearance.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters following a cabinet meeting that the radio equipment was installed by the RCMP, which is also monitoring and maintaining it, “so there are some very direct controls over the equipment itself.”

However, he added that the federal government is looking at its dealings with Sinclair and the way the RCMP contract was awarded to ensure proper security checks were done.

“There’s no doubt that there are very legitimate concerns around the way in which the contract was awarded, which is why we’re looking very carefully, very closely at it,” Mendicino said.

“Obviously, if there were any concerns or if there was any flaws in this process around the contract, then there should be very quick and immediate steps taken to suspend or cancel the contract altogether.”

The RCMP contract with Sinclair also came up during a House of Commons defence committee meeting, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national security adviser Jody Thomas was appearing to testify on Arctic security.

“We are looking into what happened with that contract,” Thomas said. “The terms of reference for the review we’re doing, we’re just creating them. I’m still gathering information from the departments involved.”

China came up repeatedly during the defence committee meeting, where Thomas indicated that Beijing’s ambitions in the Arctic stem from its desire to secure shorter shipping routes to Europe and take advantage of the region’s vast natural resource reserves.

“They have a voracious appetite for hydrocarbons, for rare earth minerals and for fish,” she said. “They see (the Arctic) as a critical element of their sustainability as a nation. So we have to ensure that the rich resources in the Canadian Arctic are protected.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

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