Connect with us

News

Pope says Canada school discovery painful, but stops short of apology

Published

 on

Pope Francis said on Sunday that he was pained by the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former Catholic school for indigenous students in Canada and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples.

However, Francis stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded. Two days ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Catholic Church must take responsibility for its role in running many of the schools.

Indigenous leaders and school survivors said the Church needed to do much more.

“We’re all pained and saddened. Who isn’t?” said Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan.

Speaking to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly blessing, Francis urged Canadian political and Catholic religious leaders to “cooperate with determination” to shed light on the finding and to seek reconciliation and healing.

Francis said he felt close to “the Canadian people, who have been traumatized by the shocking news”.

The residential schools operated between 1831 and 1996 and were run by a number of Christian denominations on behalf of the government. Most were run by the Catholic Church.

The discovery last month of the remains of the children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, which closed in 1978, has reopened old wounds and is fuelling outrage in Canada about a lack of information and accountability.

“The sad discovery further increases the understanding of the pain and suffering of the past,” Francis said.

“These difficult moments represent a strong reminder for all of us to distance ourselves from the model of colonizer … and to walk side by side in dialogue and in mutual respect in the recognition of the rights and cultural values of all the sons and daughters of Canada,” he said.

The residential school system forcibly separated about 150,000 children from their homes. Many were subjected to abuse, rape and malnutrition in what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 called “cultural genocide”.

“Let us commend to the Lord the souls of all of the dead children in the residential schools of Canada and let us pray for the families and the native communities of Canada shattered by pain,” he said, before asking the crowd to join him in silent prayer.

Francis, who was elected pope 17 years after the last schools was closed, has already apologised for the Church’s role in colonialism in the Americas.

But he has mostly chosen to make direct apologies while visiting countries and talking to native peoples. No papal visit to Canada is scheduled.

Visiting Bolivia in 2015, Francis apologised for the “many grave sins (that) were committed against the native people of America in the name of God”.

 

(Additional reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Amran Abocar in Canada; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Raissa Kasolowsky and Jan Harvey)

News

U.S. fine Air Canada $25.5 milliom over delayed refunds

Published

 on

The U.S. Transportation Department said on Tuesday it was seeking a $25.5 million fine from Air Canada over the carrier’s failure to provide timely refunds requested by thousands of customers for flights to or from the United States.

The department said it filed a formal complaint with a U.S. administrative law judge over flights Air Canada canceled or significantly changed. The penalty is “intended to deter Air Canada and other carriers from committing similar violations in the future,” the department said, adding Air Canada continued its no-refund policy in violation of U.S. law for more than a year.

Air Canada said it believes the U.S. government’s position “has no merit.” It said it “will vigorously challenge the proceedings.”

Air Canada obtained a financial aid package this spring that gave the carrier access to up to C$5.9 billion ($4.84 billion) in funds through a loan program.

The carrier said it has been refunding nonrefundable tickets as part of the Canadian government’s financial package. Since April 13 eligible customers have been able to obtain refunds for previously issued nonrefundable tickets, it said.

The Transportation Department disclosed it is also “actively investigating the refund practices of other U.S. and foreign carriers flying to and from the United States” and said it will take “enforcement action” as appropriate.

The administration said the Air Canada penalty sought was over “extreme delays in providing the required refunds.”

Refund requests spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 2020, the Transportation Department has received over 6,000 complaints against Air Canada from consumers who said they were denied refunds for flights canceled or significantly changed. The department said the airline committed a minimum of 5,110 violations and passengers waited anywhere from five to 13 months to receive refunds.

Last month, a trade group told U.S. lawmakers that 11 U.S. airlines issued $12.84 billion in cash refunds to customers in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic upended the travel industry.

In May, Democratic Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal called on carriers to issue cash refunds whether flights were canceled by the airline or traveler.

($1 = 1.2195 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Shepardson in WashingtonAdditional reporting by Allison Lampert in MontrealEditing by Matthew Lewis)

Continue Reading

News

Egypt upholds death sentence for 12 senior Muslim Brotherhood figures

Published

 on

Egypt’s highest civilian court on Monday upheld death sentences for 12 senior Muslim Brotherhood figures over a 2013 sit-in which ended with security forces killing hundreds of protesters, judicial sources said.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, means the 12 men could face execution pending approval by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. They include Abdul Rahman Al-Bar, commonly described as the group’s mufti or top religious scholar, Mohamed El-Beltagi, a former member of parliament, and Osama Yassin, a former minister.

Many Muslim Brotherhood figures have been sentenced to death in other cases related to the unrest that followed the military’s ousting of Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi in 2013, but the Court of Cassation ordered retrials.

Rights groups have documented a sharp rise in the number of executions in Egypt, with at least 51 carried out so far this year according to Amnesty International.

“Instead of continuing to escalate their use of the death penalty by upholding death sentences following convictions in grossly unfair mass trials Egyptian authorities must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions,” Amnesty said in a statement.

Monday’s ruling relates to a mass trial of hundreds of suspects accused of murder and incitement of violence during pro-Brotherhood protests at Rabaa al-Adawiya square in Cairo in the weeks after Mursi’s overthrow.

In September 2018, an Egyptian criminal court sentenced 75 people to death and issued varying jail terms for more than 600 others. Many defendants were tried in absentia.

Forty-four of those sentenced to death appealed to the Court of Cassation. Thirty-one had their sentences changed to life in prison, while death sentences were upheld for 12 others.

A final defendant, the senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam el-Erian, died in prison in Cairo in August 2020. Mursi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, died in prison in 2019.

The court also upheld jail terms for many other defendants including a life sentence for Mohamed Badie, leader of the outlawed Brotherhood, and a 10-year jail term for Mursi’s son Osama, the judicial sources said.

 

(Reporting by Haitham Ahmed; writing by Mahmoud Mourad; editing by Aidan Lewis, William Maclean and Grant McCool)

Continue Reading

News

Trudeau says he discussed border with Biden, but no deal

Published

 on

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.

U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel in light of COVID-19 that was first imposed in March 2020 and renewed on a monthly basis since then. The border measures do not affect trade flows.

The border restrictions have choked off tourism between the two countries. Canadian businesses, especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying the Liberal government to relax the restrictions.

Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.

Trudeau, speaking after a Group of Seven summit in Britain, said he had talked to Biden “about coordinating measures at our borders as both our countries move ahead with mass vaccination.” Canada is resisting calls for the border measures to be relaxed, citing the need for more people to be vaccinated.

The United States is ahead of Canada in terms of vaccination totals.

“We will continue to work closely together on moving forward in the right way but each of us always will put at the forefront the interests and the safety of our own citizens,” Trudeau told a televised news conference when asked the Biden conversation.

“Many countries, like Canada, continue to say that now is not the time to travel,” Trudeau added, though he said it is important to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Will Dunham)

Continue Reading

Trending