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Police arrest man, 19, after lockdown at Quebec junior college south of Montreal

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MONTREAL — A 19-year-old man wearing a bulletproof vest was arrested at gunpoint outside a Quebec junior college on Friday in an incident that led to an hours-long lockdown of the school.

St-Jean-sur-Richelieu municipal police said in a statement the man will remain detained until his arraignment on charges that will include uttering threats. Police spokesman Sgt. Jérémie Levesque told reporters there were no injuries or gunshots reported at the college, located about 40 kilometres southeast of Montreal.

Students inside the school when a suspicious male was reported outside were instructed to barricade themselves inside classrooms and were confined for hours before police conducted a controlled evacuation, searching bags and vehicles as students left the campus.

Levesque said police arrested a man wearing a “bulletproof vest” but would not confirm whether the suspect was enrolled at the college.

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A female under the age of 18 was also detained outside the college, but investigators determined she had nothing to do with the incident.

“Apart from the bulletproof vest, I don’t have any information on explosives or weapons,” Levesque said. Quebec provincial police helped local police complete a sweep of the school, which has 3,000 students.

The junior college — Cégep Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu — said later on Friday that the lengthy process of allowing students and staff out of the building went smoothly. Though nobody was injured, two people, including a pregnant woman, were transported to hospital as a precautionary measure, Levesque said.

Police said they received several 911 calls Friday shortly after 9 a.m. about a man acting suspiciously on campus, and the arrest was made at around 10 a.m.

Levesque said it was the man’s clothing that was particularly alarming. Videos circulating online showed that the arrests occurred outside the college in what looked like a parking lot.

College officials ordered students and staff to barricade themselves in closed rooms and to keep the lights off at the behest of the police department. Police established a security perimeter around the college and restricted access to the school.

Earlier Friday, Annie Métivier, an interior design technician at the college, said that she and four others — a colleague and three students — barricaded themselves in her darkened office at about 9:15 a.m.

“I’m still barricaded, and we don’t know anything … We’re following the information on social media and from our friends outside,” Métivier said in an exchange through Facebook Messenger before noon. “We are five in my office at the moment, and we turned off the lights because that was what we were instructed to do.”

Métivier said she wanted the police operation to be over.

“We’re fine yes … stressed but it’s fine. We just can’t wait for all of this to end,” she said. “I saw the police with their guns next to my office because I had to go back and lock a door that a teacher had unlocked adjacent to my office. They told me to ‘hurry, hurry up and lock yourself in’ … seeing the police with their weapons ready to shoot … it increases the stress.”

Nearly six hours after her ordeal began, at 3:12 p.m., she reported that she had made it home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2022.

— With files from Marisela Amador in Montreal.

 

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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Inflation in Canada: Finance ministers meet

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TORONTO – The two big spending pressures on the federal government right now are health care and the global transition to a clean economy, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday.
After hosting an in-person meeting with the provincial and territorial finance ministers, Freeland said U.S. President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which includes electric-vehicle incentives that favour manufacturers in Canada and Mexico as well as the U.S., has changed the playing field when it comes to the global competition for capital.

“I cannot emphasize too strongly how much I believe that we need to seize the moment and build the clean economy of the 21st century,” Freeland said during a news conference held at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

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“This is a huge economic opportunity.”

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Canada needs to invest in the transition in order to potentially have an outsized share in the economy of the future, she said, or it risks being left behind.

This year in particular will be an important year for attracting capital to Canada, she said, calling for the provinces and territories to chip in.

“This is a truly historic, once-in-a-generation economic moment and it will take a team Canada effort to seize it.”

At the same time, Freeland spoke of the need for fiscal restraint amid economic uncertainty.

“We know that one of the most important things the federal government can do to help Canadians today is to be mindful of our responsibility not to pour fuel on the fire of inflation,” she said.

Freeland said these two major spending pressures, which were among the topics prioritized at Friday’s meeting, come at a time of a global economic slowdown which poses restraint on government spending.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to meet with the premiers Feb. 7 to discuss a long-awaited deal on health-care spending. The provinces have been asking for increases to the health transfer to the tune of billions of dollars.

Freeland said it’s clear that the federal government needs to invest in health care and reiterated the government’s commitment to doing so but would not say whether she thinks the amount the provinces are asking for in increased health transfers is feasible.

“It’s time to see the numbers,” Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard said Friday afternoon, in anticipation of the Feb. 7 meeting.

The meeting of the finance ministers comes at a tense time for many Canadian consumers, with inflation still running hot and interest rates much higher than they were a year ago.

The ministers also spoke with Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem Friday and discussed the economic outlook for Canada and the world, said Freeland.

“We’re very aware of the uncertainty in the global economy right now,” said Freeland. “Inflation is high and interest rates are high.”

“Things are tough for a lot of Canadians and a lot of Canadian families today and at the federal level, this is a time of real fiscal constraint.”

The Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate again last week, bringing it to 4.5 per cent, but signalled it’s taking a pause to let the impact of its aggressive hiking cycle sink in.

The economy is showing signs of slowing, but inflation was still high at 6.3 per cent in December, with food prices in particular remaining elevated year over year.

Interest rates have put a damper on the housing market, sending prices and sales downward for months on end even as the cost of renting went up in 2022.

Meanwhile, the labour market has remained strong, with the unemployment rate nearing record lows in December at five per cent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.

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Federal government is in a tight fiscal environment, Freeland says ahead of health talks – CBC.ca

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Federal government is in a tight fiscal environment, Freeland says ahead of health talks  CBC.ca

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Suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over Canadian airspace: sources – CTV News

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  1. Suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over Canadian airspace: sources  CTV News
  2. Canadian pilots were warned of ‘untethered balloon’ amid China surveillance concerns  Global News
  3. U.S. military shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon off Carolina coast  CBC.ca

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