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Planning for papal visit to Canada continues as Pope Francis cancels Africa trip

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Plans continue for the Pope’s visit to Canada this summer even as the pontiff has cancelled a trip to Africa on doctors’ orders.

He is expected to deliver an apology to Indigenous people for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools during the much anticipated visit. He made an initial apology after First Nations, Métis and Inuit delegations met with him at the Vatican earlier this year.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is in regular contact with Vatican officials about the trip set for next month, said Neil MacCarthy, a spokesman for the papal visit and the archdiocese of Toronto.

“We continue to pray for the health of Pope Francis and that he will be able to join us in Canada next month,” MacCarthy said in an email.

The 85-year-old pontiff has been using a wheelchair for more than a month and has struggled to walk and stand.

The trip to Congo and South Sudan was to take place July 2 to July 7. It will be rescheduled for a later date “in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee,” the Vatican said Friday.

The Canadian papal visit is scheduled for July 24 to July 29. Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit are to act as bases for the trip.

MacCarthy said great care is being taken to ensure the Pope has periods of rest so that he can participate in all the planned Canadian events.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has said the Pope is limited in how he can travel. He can no longer ride in helicopters and he can’t be in a vehicle for more than an hour.

An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools in Canada and more than 60 per cent of the schools were run by the Catholic Church.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2022.

 

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

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Anti-Taliban law could be tweaked to get more humanitarian aid to Afghans: minister

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OTTAWA — A law outlawing any dealings with the Taliban, which charities complain is impeding their ability to help needy Afghans, could be adjusted by the federal government to give more flexibility to aid agencies.

International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said the government is looking at making changes to the law to create “flexibility” to make humanitarian help easier.

But, in an interview with The Canadian Press, he insisted Canada would not lift the Taliban’s designation as a prescribed terrorist organization.

“We are looking at options on what we can do to create that flexibility that other countries have,” he said. “The U.S. currently can do more work than us, at least have the options to do more things there. We are looking at similar exemptions we can create as long as we can keep up the pressure on the Taliban, as it is a terrorist entity.”

A law listing the Taliban as a terrorist organization was passed in 2013, before the allies withdrew and the Taliban seized control of Kabul and formed a de facto government last year.

Under the anti-terrorist leglislation, Canadians could face up to 10 years in prison if they, directly or indirectly, make available property or finances to the Taliban.

Canadian aid agencies working in Afghanistan complain the law is impeding their work because they cannot help anyone who may have official dealings with the Afghan government, including people paying rent or taxes.

They have also criticized Canada for not adjusting its regulations following a December 2021 UN Security Council resolution which said “humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan” would not violate the council’s sanctions regime.

Giving evidence to a special parliamentary committee on Afghanistan earlier this year, Michael Messenger, president of World Vision Canada, said Canada was “out of step” with other countries, including the U.S., which have made changes to make humanitarian aid easier following the UN resolution.

Ten humanitarian organizations made a submission to the parliamentary committee calling on ministers to relax its laws so they could work on the ground in Afghanistan without fear of breaching Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.

In its official report last month, the committee recommended that the government “ensure that registered Canadian organizations have the clarity and assurances needed — such as carve-outs or exemptions — to deliver humanitarian assistance and meet basic needs in Afghanistan without fear of prosecution for violating Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.”

Sajjan said, despite the prohibitions on dealing with the Taliban, Canada had continued to give vast sums of aid to Afghanistan through agencies including the UN and Red Cross.

But he acknowledged the law, brought in before the Taliban formed the government, was preventing some aid work, including “development projects where you have to work through the government’s structure.”

He said Canada had pumped around $150 million into Afghanistan, including aid to help people following the recent earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and left more than 1,500 injured.

The earthquake struck a remote region near the Pakistan border, damaging more than 10,000 homes, most of which are made from clay and mud. Immediately after the earthquake, the Taliban issued a call for help from the international community.

“The law has not prevented us from helping the Afghan people,” the international development minister said. “We can still help the Afghan people but we are still looking at the options of how to get the exemptions.”

Lauryn Oates, executive director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, said humanitarian groups were getting conflicting legal advice on what the rules say they can and cannot do in Afghanistan.

She said the anti-terrorism law was stopping Canadian aid workers paying local taxes, including on rent or salaries. But aid workers could face imprisonment in Afghanistan if they don’t pay taxes, under local laws.

The law is also making it harder to fund scholarships for Afghan women and girls at private universities and creating huge amounts of paperwork, she said. A scholarship can only now be granted if the university signs undertakings pledging that the money, even small sums, would not be used to pay tax.

Oates said she feared a law change could take years when aid is urgently needed in the impoverished country.

“We need an innovative, interim solution now,” she said. “Other countries have been able to come up with them and Canada is lagging behind.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2022.

 

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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Premier's statement reflecting on Canada Day | BC Gov News – BC Gov News

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Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement to recognize Canada Day:

“After one of the most challenging periods in our history, many people are coming together again to celebrate Canada Day at community events and backyard barbecues across the country.

“As we do, it is important we reflect on this place we call home – its past and its future – to recognize all we have to be grateful for and all we must do together to build a better Canada that works for everyone.

“We are fortunate to live in one of the most welcoming countries on the planet. People from all over the world come to Canada in search of a better life for themselves and their families. But there is a lot more we need to do to break down barriers and end systemic discrimination that is a lived reality for many. Central to that work is confronting the dark truths of our colonial history so that we can move forward through reconciliation and partnership with Indigenous Peoples, many of whom have been on this land since time immemorial.

“At our best, Canada is a place where we take care of our neighbours, no matter who they are or how much money they have in their pocket. There is no greater expression of this than our universal public health-care system, which provides Canadians with the life-saving care they need without having to take out a credit card. A global pandemic has exposed underlying gaps and added additional strains. To ensure that strong public health care is there for future generations will require a renewed partnership between governments.

“As Canadians, we enjoy a vast landscape of natural beauty and resources, from mountains ranges and beautiful coastlines, to rich farmland and abundant forests. While a rapidly changing climate is putting these things we cherish most at risk, if we act now with the urgency required, we can reduce the most severe effects and become a global leader in the emerging clean energy economy.

“This is the country we celebrate today, a place that is special, not because we are perfect, but because we are always striving to make progress and life better for people.

“Over the past few years, we have shown how much we can accomplish if we reject division and work together in common purpose. That’s why I have never been more optimistic about our future than I am right now. Together, I know we will continue to build a stronger and more inclusive Canada – where everyone feels like they belong and no one gets left behind.”

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Canada Day enforcement in Ottawa sees 284 parking tickets issued as protesters return – CBC.ca

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Canada Day enforcement efforts in Ottawa have included bylaw officers handing out 284 parking tickets since 8 a.m. ET Thursday in the downtown area as well as the towing of 79 vehicles, as anti-mandate protesters returned to the capital with few issues Friday.

In a tweet, bylaw officials said the towing occurred inside the downtown vehicle exclusion zone.

We’re certainly better prepared and more police officers from different jurisdictions are coming to help this weekend.– Jim Watson, Ottawa mayor 

The zone is similar to what was set up in late April for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, and covers much of the downtown area. Within it, no street parking is permitted and no protest vehicles are allowed in until at least 6 a.m. on Monday.

The zone expanded west on Albert Street to Bayview station and east into the ByWard Market for Canada Day.

On Thursday evening, four people were arrested near the National War Memorial

The Ottawa Police Service said it’s investigating the incident, including reviewing video. 

Its initial investigations found an interaction with an officer became confrontational and an officer was choked, the service tweeted. Police haven’t clarified if the incident involved one or two officers.

Despite the arrests, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said enforcement efforts seem to be “working relatively well,” especially compared to the weeks-long occupation earlier this year of downtown streets. 

A vehicle with two parking tickets on its dash.
This vehicle was parked in Ottawa’s vehicle-exclusion zone on Wednesday ahead of the Canada Day events in the capital. Protesters who participated in the Freedom Convoy and Rolling Thunder rallies earlier this year returned to the city for July 1. (Buntola Nou/CBC)

“I think we’re certainly better prepared and more police officers from different jurisdictions are coming to help this weekend,” Watson said at a Canada Day event Friday morning.

“It’s always a big day in Ottawa if Canada Day is celebrated. We wanted to make sure that people come here and they have an enjoyable, safe, fun experience.”

‘Minimal’ police activity, says mayor

Later in the day, Watson said police told him there has been “minimal activity” requiring officers’ involvement. 

Organizers were scheduled to hold a “freedom music concert” featuring entertainers who became popular during the Freedom Convoy for performing on a stage that was set up in front of Parliament Hill on Wellington Street. 

Protesters had also been planning to march Friday to Parliament Hill and hold a dance party.

A man walks down a street while covered in Canadian flags.
A man decked out in dozens of Canadian flags walks down Sparks Street in Ottawa on July 1, 2022. (Catherine Morasse/Radio-Canada)

As was the case during the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally in April, many of the Canada Day events are being co-ordinated by Veterans 4 Freedom (V4F), a group formed by central figures involved in the Freedom Convoy’s weeks-long winter protests.

Organizers had also planned an “old-fashioned family picnic” in Strathcona Park on Friday morning, but the event was cancelled. 

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