Queen Elizabeth, Canada’s head of state and the longest-reigning British monarch, has died. She was 96.
She died peacefully on Thursday afternoon at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Buckingham Palace said in a short statement.
“The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow,” the palace said, in reference to the Queen’s son Charles, who automatically became king upon her death, and his wife, Camilla.
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.<br><br>The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow. <a href=”https://t.co/VfxpXro22W”>pic.twitter.com/VfxpXro22W</a>
In a separate statement, King Charles called his mother’s death “a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.”
“I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.”
Charles’ estate, Clarence House, confirmed his title was now King Charles III.
Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, at the relatively tender age of 25, and presided over the country and the Commonwealth, including Canada, for seven decades. Those 70 years as monarch were recognized during this year’s Platinum Jubilee events, which reached their height in London in early June.
In her time as monarch, Elizabeth bore witness to profound changes at home and abroad, including the decline of the British Empire and decolonization of many African and Caribbean countries, along with the end of hostilities with Irish republicans.
As one of the most famous women in the world, she was also under great public scrutiny during some of the most painful moments of her life, including the death of her father, King George VI, the marriage breakups of three of her four children and the death of her former daughter-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales.
But Elizabeth always had a keen sense of her role.
“I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice,” she said during her first televised Christmas address in 1957. “But I can do something else: I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.”
That sense of duty was central to her life, even before she ascended the throne. In a speech broadcast from Cape Town, South Africa, on her 21st birthday in 1947, she made that clear.
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,” she said.
The path to the throne
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born in London on April 21, 1926, the first child to Prince Albert and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Duke and Duchess of York. At the time of her birth, Elizabeth stood third in line of succession to the throne and was not expected to become monarch.
But that changed when her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth’s father became King George VI, making Elizabeth the presumptive heir.
It was around this time that Elizabeth met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.
Their wedding at London’s Westminster Abbey in 1947 was a grand event that helped lift the spirits of the British public at a time when it was still reeling from the destruction of the Second World War and the rationing that followed the end of the conflict.
Queen Elizabeth’s marriage to Prince Philip:
The couple’s first child, Prince Charles, was born in 1948 and the second, Princess Anne, arrived two years later. (Another two children, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, were born in 1960 and 1964, and the family has now grown to include eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.)
King George VI died in 1952, at which point Elizabeth became Queen as well as head of the Church of England and the Commonwealth.
Although her grandmother, Queen Mary, died in February 1953, Elizabeth’s coronation went ahead that June. It was a lavish spectacle, and in a significant first, was televised worldwide to an audience estimated at 277 million.
- Do you have a personal connection, story or memory to share about Queen Elizabeth II? Or a question about what happens next? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The role of a queen
Because Britain has a constitutional monarchy, the King or Queen is head of state but has no ability to make or pass legislation.
Throughout her reign, Elizabeth had a weekly audience with the British prime minister. While the substance of these discussions remains confidential, it is thought that it was an opportunity for the sitting prime minister to solicit her advice.
Elizabeth refused to be drawn into policy debates in public, but over the years, the British media sometimes alleged differences of opinion between her and the prime minister of the day.
For example, there were reports that Elizabeth was concerned about the anti-strike measures and reduction of social programs under Margaret Thatcher, who was prime minister from 1979 until 1990.
As much as Queen Elizabeth kept her distance from politics, there were times she let her views be known — or appeared to. For example, she favoured sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney has said.
And in the days leading to the Scottish referendum in 2014, there was much attention focused on her saying that she hoped people would think “very carefully about the future.” At the time, Buckingham Palace said the Queen “maintains her constitutional impartiality. As the Queen has always said, this is a matter for the people of Scotland.”
While Elizabeth remained largely apolitical, countless trips abroad made her something of a royal diplomat. In addition to more than 20 visits to Canada, Elizabeth spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. Congress and met several popes.
Queen Elizabeth’s many visits to Canada:
Arguably her most significant diplomatic mission was closer to home. In 2012, she visited Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she shook the hand of Martin McGuinness, a one-time commander with the Irish Republican Army and at the time the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland.
The meeting, although brief, was seen by many as a key moment of reconciliation between Britain and Irish republicans.
Elizabeth has “been astonishingly effective as a diplomat and as a statesperson,” Ninian Mellamphy, a professor emeritus at Western University in London, Ont., and a longtime royal watcher, said at the time.
Renowned as much for her composure as the colourful clothing she wore to make sure she could be seen in a crowd, Elizabeth rarely showed her true emotions in public. As a result, she was seen by many as a symbol of British resilience.
Even so, she had her dark years, particularly 1992, which she called her own “annus horribilis.” That year, among other events, the marriages of three of her four children crumbled, a tell-all book about Diana was published and a fire devastated part of Windsor Castle, a royal residence she particularly favoured.
Diana divorced Prince Charles in 1996, and a year later, she died after a car crash in Paris. Elizabeth was heavily criticized for not responding publicly immediately following Diana’s death, but days later she delivered a heartfelt speech on TV in which she expressed admiration for her former daughter-in-law.
As recognizable and high-profile as Elizabeth was, however, she remained in many ways an elusive personality. She was known for her sense of humour and dry wit, but didn’t do interviews and her personal views never got a public airing.
Certain interests seemed apparent — whether it was her love of horses or devotion to the corgis that would run up airplane steps with her.
There was also the sense she was a frugal Queen who ran a tight ship, one who reportedly kept her cereal in Tupperware containers and made sure lights were turned off in the regal palaces she called home.
In her later years, she became an object of fascination for screenwriters and playwrights, most notably Peter Morgan, who tried to capture the inner life of Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
Celebrated actor Helen Mirren won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Elizabeth in the 2006 film The Queen, and also starred in the stage play The Audience, about her weekly meetings with the prime minister.
Netflix is also producing The Crown, a series created by Morgan that explores her reign.
Despite public debates about the necessity and future of the monarchy, Elizabeth remained a highly popular figure among Britons until her death.
In 2020, she was praised for offering a sense of calm strength and reassurance as the coronavirus pandemic continued. Her strong sense of duty was on display particularly as she urged resilience early in the pandemic through a rare televised address. She also found herself carrying out her role in new ways as she took part in virtual events.
Philip, who was the longest-serving consort to a monarch, died on April 9, 2021. At Philip’s funeral on April 17, 2021, Elizabeth led a small group of family members as pandemic restrictions at the time meant the funeral service was limited to 30 people. She sat alone, wearing a mask, at the front of St. George’s Chapel before his casket was lowered into the royal vault.
Health concerns arose after she was in hospital overnight for what were described as “preliminary investigations” in October 2021. Following advice from doctors to rest for at least two weeks, she continued to undertake light duties from her home at Windsor Castle.
She also carried out several engagements virtually, but missed high-profile public events such as Remembrance Sunday.
In early February 2022, Elizabeth marked 70 years on the throne, an unprecedented milestone for a British monarch and the official beginning of her Platinum Jubilee.
Later that month, Buckingham Palace announced she had tested positive for COVID-19. She recovered and continued to carry out virtual engagements, along with a few in-person meetings, including with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon at Windsor Castle.
While Platinum Jubilee events continued largely without her public presence, she did appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the beginning and end of the celebrations in early June.
Queen appears at Jubilee event:
“While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family,” she said in a message as the Jubilee events concluded.
“I have been inspired by the kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days, and I hope the renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come.”
Danielle Smith: Facts about Alberta’s new premier, United Conservative Party leader
CALGARY — Former journalist and business owner Danielle Smith won the United Conservative Party’s leadership race on Thursday and, in doing so, becomes Alberta’s next premier. Here are some facts about Smith:
Born: April 1, 1971 in Calgary.
Family: She is married to David Moretta and has a stepson.
Before politics: Smith graduated with degrees in economics and English from the University of Calgary. She was a trustee for the Calgary Board of Education. She wrote editorials with the Calgary Herald and hosted a current affairs TV show called “Global Sunday.” She was a provincial director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. She and her husband now own and operate The Dining Car restaurant in High River.
Politics: In 2009, she won the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance, later to become the Wildrose Party. In the 2012 provincial election, Smith won a seat in the constituency of Highwood and the party took over official Opposition status from the Liberals, In 2014, she led eight Wildrose members across the floor to join the governing Progressive Conservatives. After much backlash, she lost in the 2015 election.
Quote: “After everything I’ve done in the past to divide the movement, then try to bring it together the wrong way, I feel like I owe it to the conservative movement to do what I can to be a force of unity.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Iran flight relatives say Canada a haven for regime officials
OTTAWA — Relatives of those killed when Iran’s military shot down Flight PS752 in January 2020 say Canada has become a safe haven for regime officials.
“Canada has become a safe haven for the criminals of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Hamed Esmaeilion testified Thursday afternoon to the House justice committee.
Esmaeilion leads a group representing grieving families, many of whom are aware of numerous people who have worked for the regime, or are related to senior officials, moving freely in Canada.
“This is a big concern for Iranian people,” he said.
Amid a brutal crackdown on women’s and human rights protesters across Iran, the federal Liberals are facing mounting pressure to deem a section of Iran’s army as a terrorist group.
That has coincided with the 1,000-day anniversary of the downing of Flight PS752 near Tehran, which killed 176 people, most of whom were headed through Ukraine to Canada.
No one has been held accountable.
Esmaeilion chalked that up to a naive bureaucracy that sees Iran as a normal country.
“It’s mainly the legal teams or the advisers; they still believe in negotiation with Iran because they don’t see Iran, or the Iranian regime, as a Mafia group,” he said.
“If you change your mindset, that you’re not negotiating with Switzerland or a democratic country, then it would solve the problem.”
He said he’s told officials that Canadians would never play a hockey game with North Korea, and yet Canada’s national men’s soccer team was scheduled to play with Iran back in June, before Canada Soccer cancelled amid political pushback.
Esmaeilion said he’s certain people affiliated with Tehran have been responsible for slashing his tires and making phone calls he found threatening.
The RCMP has previously said it is “aware of reports relating to victims experiencing threats, harassment and intimidation.”
And while the Liberals have said they updated their sanctions list Monday based on impact from Esmaeilion’s group, he said there were many more officials that relatives suggested months ago.
“I’m shocked that I don’t see (Supreme Leader) Ali Khamenei on the list,” he said, adding that President Ebrahim Raisi and former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif should be listed.
He also called out Iran’s delegate for the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization, saying Farhad Parvaresh should be kicked out of Canada.
This week, a crowd of Iranian Canadians took to Parliament Hill, demanding Ottawa deem the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group.
Experts have said that such a change would be hard to enforce, given that Iran has conscripted millions into the force’s non-combat roles. A terror listing compels Ottawa to freeze assets held inside Canada and deny entry into the country.
Esmaeilion said that is a serious concern, and there may be as many as 15,000 people already living in Canada in that situation. But he said their military documents clearly state whether they had a senior rank and if they had joined the IRGC by choice.
“We can exempt those people. We have talked to several lawyers, and this is a simple solution for putting the IRGC on the list.”
He also reiterated calls to hold responsible those in charge of the downing of the flight that killed his wife and daughter. Esmaeilion’s group wants Canada to refer the case to the ICAO and the International Criminal Court.
“So far, after 1,000 days, we have no road map; we have no time frame,” he said.
In a Wednesday interview, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Canada wants to see justice for the victims of Flight PS752, but must exhaust all avenues with Iran before any international tribunal will take on the case.
“The process is painful, it’s long, it’s cumbersome, it’s complicated,” he said.
“These international bodies are flawed, they’re imperfect, but they are our best way to hold Iran accountable.”
Alghabra said Canada has been helping lead reforms that aim to prevent another catastrophe, such as the Safer Skies initiative. The idea is to have a global body assess when conflict makes it unsafe for civilian flights, and advise companies and states to not take off.
The flight Iran shot down took off hours into a military operation in response to the U.S. assassination of senior Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani.
“PS752 should not have been flying when there was a conflict nearby,” Alghabra said.
– With files from Caitlin Yardley in Montreal.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2022.
Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press
Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, explained – CTV News
The Supreme Court of Canada will take time to weigh arguments about the constitutionality of an 18-year refugee agreement between Ottawa and Washington after hearing a challenge Thursday from claimants and human rights advocates.
The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) allows Canada to turn away asylum seekers seeking entry from the U.S. at official land border crossings.
However, human rights groups say the U.S. is not a “safe country” for asylum seekers and the pact allows Canada to skirt its international obligations for refugee claimants.
CTVNews.ca breaks down what the agreement entails.
WHAT DOES THE STCA DO?
The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement was signed in 2002 and came into effect in 2004. Under the agreement, those seeking refugee status in either Canada or the U.S. must make their claim in the first country they enter.
That means most asylum seekers who attempt to cross into Canada at an official crossing are turned away and are told they need to make their asylum claim in the U.S., and vice versa. The only exemptions apply to unaccompanied minors and those with close family members living in Canada.
“If one of those narrow exemptions does not apply, you’re not able to make a claim for refugee protection in Canada. And so what that means is that you’re ordered to be removed or deported, and they contact U.S. authorities,” Amnesty International’s Julia Sande told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday.
But the agreement has one key loophole: it only applies to official land border crossings. That means that asylum seekers who manage to make a refugee claim within Canada while bypassing an official border crossing won’t be sent back to the U.S.
This has prompted tens of thousands of asylum seekers to enter Canada at irregular crossings, such as Roxham Road, a rural road that goes through the border between Quebec and New York State.
HOW MANY ASYLUM SEEKERS HAVE CROSSED IRREGULARLY?
Since February 2017, Canada has seen 67,805 irregular crossers enter the country. Of these, 28,332 (41 per cent) have had their refugee claims approved. In addition, 19,646 refugee claims have been rejected, 13,369 are still pending and the rest have either been withdrawn or abandoned, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB).
Irregular crossings into Canada surged after Donald Trump became president of the United States in 2017, as concerns grew over his anti-immigration rhetoric and executive orders limiting the number of refugees admitted.
According to data from the IRB, the number of irregular crossings peaked between July and September 2017. During this time period, 8,558 asylum seekers irregularly crossed into Canada, corresponding to an average of 2,853 per month.
The average number of irregular crossers per month dipped after that and hovered between 1,200 and 1,400 from late 2018 to early 2020. However, irregular crossings came to a near screeching halt after COVID-19 restrictions at the border were put in place in March 2020 and asylum seekers were sent back to the U.S. unless they met one of the exemptions.
In November 2021, as Canada continued lifting COVID-19 measures at the border, irregular crossers were once again allowed to enter the country and make a claim. Between April and June 2022, 4,512 irregular crossers entered Canada — the most seen since 2019, according to the IRB.
WHAT DO OPPONENTS OF THE STCA SAY?
In 2017, Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and the Canadian Council of Churches launched a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Safe Third Country Agreement.
The organizations say the legislation underpinning the STCA violates Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees life, liberty and security of the person, in addition to Section 15, which guarantees equal protection and benefit under the law.
Sande says asylum seekers who are turned back from Canada often face immigration detention in the U.S.
“When people are in detention, they’re subjected to solitary confinement, staggering rates of sexual violence, really inhumane conditions, not given religiously appropriate food,” she said. “The detention in itself is problematic and harmful. But in addition, when you’re in detention, it’s a lot more difficult to access counsel.”
Sande says the increased difficulty accessing legal counsel means asylum seekers have a higher chance of being deported. On top of that, she said crossing the border at irregular crossings can come with serious risks.
Many of these crossers use Roxham Road, where the RCMP have set up a presence to handle the high volume of asylum seekers. But at other parts of the border, some asylum seekers have made long journeys on foot through empty farm fields in the winter, risking frostbite.
“We’ve heard of people losing fingers from frostbite and really putting themselves at risk. And so I would say it’s neither compassionate nor orderly,” Sande said.
Canada is also subject to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which stipulates that states cannot return refugees to dangerous countries. The human rights groups argue the pact lets Canada “contract out” its international obligations to refugee claimants without proper followup the U.S. is doing the job.
In July 2020, the Federal Court agreed, and ruled the Safe Third Country Agreement was unconstitutional. The federal government appealed the ruling and last December, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear the case.
WHAT HAVE FEDERAL PARTIES SAID?
The NDP and the Bloc Quebecois have long called on the federal government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, and allow asylum seekers to cross into Canada at official crossings so they won’t have to make potentially dangerous journeys through irregular crossings.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives say the STCA should be strengthened to allow Canada to send irregular crossers back to the U.S.
The three opposition parties recently signed a letter calling for an inquiry looking at how public funds were used to build intake facilities at the border near Roxham Road.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada “works with the U.S. government every day to improve the Safe Third Country Agreement.” Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told CTV’s Your Morning the agreement “has served Canada well” and is necessary to ensure that the border “remains well-managed.”
“Canada believes that the STCA remains a comprehensive means for the compassionate, fair and orderly handling of asylum claims in our two countries,” IRCC said in an email statement.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault has also called on the feds to close the unofficial Roxham Road crossing and said his government does not have the capacity to deal with the influx of people. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said on Thursday the government is working “very carefully with Quebec” to manage the flow of asylum seekers.
“We transfer significant federal funds to that province every year to help with ensuring that there is due process, that there… is a baseline of support for people who are filing claims,” he told reporters before a cabinet meeting in Ottawa.
“We have to reach agreements, with partnerships with the United States, with Quebec, and that’s exactly what the federal government will do,” he added in French.
With files from The Canadian Press
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