As protests spurred by the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis continue across the United States, federal Canadian politicians delivered special take-note speeches in the House of Commons on Tuesday, calling out the ongoing inequalities in this country and imploring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to go beyond “pretty words.”
Trudeau led off the series of speeches with an acknowledgement of anti-black racism in Canada and his own past shortcomings, which included wearing blackface on more occasions than he could concretely say.
“When it comes to being an ally, I have made serious mistakes in the past, mistakes which I deeply regret and continue to learn from… I’m not perfect, but not being perfect is not a free pass to not do the right thing,” Trudeau said.
“I know that for so many people listening right now, the last thing you want to hear is another speech on racism from a white politician,” said the prime minister, adding that the reason he was delivering his speech was to make it clear that the government is listening.
Trudeau said that Canadians who are standing up in this moment and all those who have “felt the weight of oppression” deserve better, committing to working with the opposition parties on eradicating racism in Canada.
REPARATIONS, AN APOLOGY?
However, Trudeau faced questions over the course of the day about the government’s existing policies and whether he was prepared to go further than he’s previously committed to when it comes to addressing the existing inequalities within Canadian society.
Not long after taking a lengthy pause in responding to a question about U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls for military action against protesters, Trudeau was asked what his government intends on doing to improve the situation in Canada.
Specifically, he was asked about a 2017 UN Human Rights Council report on the experiences of African Canadians.
The report recommended that the federal government issue an apology and consider providing reparations for enslavement and other historical injustices. Asked if his government intended on doing either, the prime minister could not say.
His response went over the work his government has done and continues to do with the black community as well as the funding being put towards countering systemic and institutional racism and discrimination, but he did not commit to a national apology, something he’s done several times over his tenure as the prime minister for other injustices faced by Canadians.
“We will work with the black community across this country as we have to respond to their priorities. There is a lot to do in Canada and we will do it in partnership with them,” he said.
In the House of Commons, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh challenged Trudeau to use his position of power to “go beyond pretty words, and pretty speeches, and do something.”
Singh, who is the first person of colour to lead a major federal political party in Canada, said that if Trudeau believes that black lives matter, he should commit to ending racial profiling, and the over-incarceration of black people in Canada.
He also noted the ongoing racial inequalities faced by Indigenous people in Canada and called on Trudeau to stop the court proceedings challenging the federal government’s need to compensate First Nations kids affected by a discriminatory child welfare system; and to ensure access to clean water, housing, and education.
“Why do black people, why do Indigenous people need to keep on asking to be treated like a human? Why? You know, people are done with pretty speeches, particularly pretty speeches from people in power that could do something about it right now if they wanted to,” he said.
‘SET OUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER’
Demonstrations have been taking place in Canadian cities including Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, in solidarity with those decrying anti-black racism in the United States.
Asked why neither she nor Trudeau said Trump’s name or addressed his leadership decisions during their comments on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said her focus is on addressing “Canadian complacency.”
“I think that it’s really, really important for us to set our own house in order and for us to really be aware of the pain that anti-black racism causes here in our own country, of the reality that we do have systemic discrimination here in Canada,” Freeland said. “I think that we as Canadians, all of us, need to take this very traumatic moment for many people in the world as an opportunity to look at what we are doing in Canada and to work hard to do better.”
‘WE HAVE TO SPEAK UP’
During his address, outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that Canada “was a beacon of freedom to so many escaping slavery,” and that the country has benefitted as a result, offering examples of Canadians who “overcame” and went on to serve their communities. These include Lincoln Alexander, who was elected in 1968 and was the first black MP and eventually became the first black cabinet minister; and Viola Desmond who challenged segregation and is now pictured on Canadian $10 bills.
“While there are many things that we can point to in our history with pride, that is not to say that we have a perfect record, nor are immune to the threat of racism or that anti-black racism is just an American problem. Canada has had its own dark episodes of racism that cannot be ignored, and sadly not just in our past,” Scheer said.
“No one should be attacked in their community or targeted on the bus because of the colour of their skin,” he said, adding that the fight against any efforts to infringe upon freedoms needs to continue.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet echoed Singh’s calls for political leadership to go beyond words, and suggested the first concrete measure the federal government could take would be to accelerate the processing of asylum claims.
Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May concluded the series of special addresses with an emotional request to her MP colleagues: “We can look at our own conduct and our own behavior… When you see a bully, when you hear hate speech, we have to speak up. We have to speak out,” she said.
“Black lives matter. I want to just do nothing but chant it in this place until we stand together and say black lives matter,” May said.
Canadian drivers with U.S. licence plates harassed by fellow Canadians – CBC.ca
Some Canadians driving cars with U.S. licence plates say they’ve endured vandalism, harassment and even a minor assault from fellow Canadians convinced that they’re Americans illegally in Canada.
Lisa Watt said she was harassed twice in Calgary last month — she believes because of her Texas licence plates.
In one incident, she said a driver stopped right behind her car in a parking lot and glared at her, and in another situation, a driver tailgated her car for several kilometres before pulling up beside her and flipping her the finger.
“It made me angry,” said Watt, a Canadian citizen who moved to Houston in 2000 for work. She drove to Calgary in June to visit her 84-year-old mother, who was feeling isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m here to help my mother. I have every right to be here.”
To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to non-essential traffic. As a result, some Canadians are alarmed when they spot cars with U.S. licence plates, especially as COVID-19 cases south of the border escalate.
There is reason for concern. Alberta RCMP said that since mid-June, they have fined 10 Americans $1,200 each after they sneaked in to Banff National Park.
Americans are allowed to drive straight through Canada to Alaska for work or to return home, but they can’t stop in Banff — or anywhere else — to see the sights.
However, not all drivers of cars with U.S. plates in Canada are breaking the rules.
Watt wants Albertans to know she’s a patriotic Canadian who’s taking every precaution while in the country. She self-quarantined for 14 days when arriving in Calgary and wears a face mask in stores.
She said both incidents of harassment happened on June 21, the day she finished her quarantine and headed to town to run errands.
‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’
As a result of her experiences, Watt started driving her mother’s car — which has Alberta plates.
“I’m a little afraid to leave my car parked anywhere for fear somebody does something to it,” she said. “I’d like people to understand that people with U.S. licence plates have legitimate reasons for being here.”
Mayor Phil Harding of the Township of Muskoka Lakes also wants to spread that message.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover,” said Harding, whose township is part of the Muskoka region, a vacation hot spot in Ontario.
The mayor said he recently heard from several Canadians with U.S.-plated cars in the region, who claimed they were accused of being Americans unlawfully in Canada.
“‘You shouldn’t be here. Americans aren’t allowed. How did you get across the border?'” said Harding, about the types of accusations the drivers have fielded from local residents.
Car keyed at marina
In one case, a woman reported that her husband’s car — which has Michigan plates — was scratched with a key, said the mayor.
CBC News confirmed the incident with the woman who said the approximately metre-long scratch appeared after the car had been parked at a marina on June 6.
The woman said she and her husband are Canadian but that her husband works for an American company and drives a company car with U.S. plates. The woman asked that their names be kept confidential because her husband doesn’t want his workplace associated with this story.
“We think it’s terrible and are really aware that we are a target with our U.S.-plated company vehicle,” said the woman about the incident in an email. “This makes you aware that the cross-border tension is building.”
WATCH | COVID-19 could close Canada-U.S. border for a year, expert says:
In another incident in Huntsville, also in the Muskoka region, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said a Canadian filed a police report after he was allegedly accosted by two men upset over the Florida plates on his car.
OPP spokesperson Jason Folz said the incident happened on June 12 at a car wash.
“They harassed him, and the assault was they poked him in the chest, demanding to know why he was in Canada.”
Folz said the man is a snowbird who spends winters in Florida and owns a car with Florida plates.
“People are stressed [about COVID-19], and it comes out in strange ways. This is perhaps one of those ways,” said Folz about the incident.
Lawyer avoids crossing border
U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders said several of his clients — who are dual Canadian-U.S. citizens or essential workers crossing the border — have complained of mean looks when driving their U.S.-plated car in Canada.
As a result, Saunders said he avoids crossing the border, even though he can as an essential worker and a dual citizen.
“I’m concerned about being socially shamed up there in B.C., driving a U.S.-plated car because I’ve heard from multiple clients, stories of dirty looks,” said Saunders, whose office sits close to the British Columbia border in Blaine, Wash.
He said he can understand why some Canadians get upset when spotting U.S. licence plates in the country, considering COVID-19 cases are spiking in some U.S. states.
But they must remember that many people driving U.S.-plated cars in Canada are there for a valid reason, Saunders said.
“They really have to look at the big picture before they pass judgment.”
Canadian Armed Forces member arrested after gaining access to Rideau Hall grounds – CBC.ca
Police have arrested a Canadian Armed Forces member who they say was armed and had gained access to the grounds at Rideau Hall early Thursday morning.
The man “breached the main pedestrian entrance” at 1 Sussex Drive at around 6:30 a.m. ET with his vehicle, the RCMP said in a statement.
When the impact disabled his vehicle, the man headed to the Rideau Hall greenhouse, where he was “rapidly contained” by RCMP members on patrol, the force said. He was apprehended shortly before 8:30 a.m. without incident and taken into custody for questioning.
CBC News has confirmed the man in custody is Corey Hurren, an active member of the military who serves as a Canadian Ranger.
The Rangers are a component of the Canadian Army Reserve that serves in the remote and coastal regions, typically offering help with national security and public safety operations.
Someone who answered the phone at the Hurren household in Manitoba on Thursday evening confirmed he’d been arrested but said she didn’t want to speak further about the day’s events.
Hurren ran a business called GrindHouse Fine Foods, which makes meat products. In promotional material for his business, Hurren is described as a Royal Canadian Artillery veteran who recently rejoined the military as a Canadian Ranger.
He is also a past president of his local Lion’s Club, an active volunteer in his community of Bowsman, north-west of Winnipeg, and his group of Rangers were on call to be part of the military’s assistance with the COVID-19 response.
WATCH | Canadian Armed Forces member armed with long gun arrested at Rideau Hall:
But in his posts on Facebook, he also revealed that the pandemic had taken a toll on his business.
“I’m not sure what will be left of our economy, industries and businesses when this all ends,” he wrote May 26.
Both the RCMP and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office previously confirmed the man arrested is in the military.
A source told CBC News the man had driven from Manitoba and had a long gun and a note with him. The source — who spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the case — did not know the details of the note nor what kind of long gun it was.
Rideau Hall is the Governor General’s official residence, and the greenhouse is attached to the residence at the back. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family also live on the property at Rideau Cottage, not far from the greenhouse.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the prime minister and his family were not at Rideau Cottage Wednesday night or Thursday morning. RCMP said the Governor General wasn’t present either.
In a statement to CBC, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette’s office said she had been living on the grounds prior to the pandemic and that all staff were safe.
One of the wrought-iron gates leading to the property was left visibly damaged after the incident and debris could be seen on the ground earlier today.
A robot could be seen examining a black pickup truck just inside the gates at Rideau Hall earlier today. The truck’s airbags also appeared to have been deployed.
The inside of the truck’s cab appeared to have been packed with boxes and other items.
The robot opened the door and removed several items from the truck, including an orange cooler and boxes.
There were also officers inspecting the underside of the truck with mirrors, while others had dogs and were inspecting both the inside of the truck and its contents.
The RCMP said late Thursday afternoon that charges are pending against the man, although they have not yet publicly confirmed his identity.
“Through our members’ vigilance, quick action and successful de-escalation techniques, this highly volatile incident was resolved swiftly and peacefully. I am very proud of all our people and our partners who moved fast and acted decisively to contain this threat,” RCMP deputy commissioner Mike Duheme said in a statement.
Peter Lewis lives near Rideau Hall and was cycling along the Vanier Parkway just before 7 a.m. ET when he saw “a stream” of RCMP vehicles heading toward downtown.
WATCH | Police use a robot to investigate truck:
He then saw what he described as an armoured police vehicle.
“It’s a little concerning,” he said. “I hope everybody’s all right.”
The grounds at Rideau Hall, as well as the house itself, are normally major tourist attractions in the nation’s capital, where people enjoy picnics on the grass or wander the gardens.
Both have been closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
As of 6:15 p.m. ET, roads outside Rideau Hall were still closed for the investigation.
Canada adds 302 coronavirus cases on Thursday
Canada’s daily coronavirus death toll rose by more than two dozen on Thursday, while 302 new cases were diagnosed across the country.
Though the number of cases and deaths is declining, Thursday’s data brings the national death toll to 8,642. More than 104,000 people have tested positive for the virus, and though more than 63,000 have recovered.
The number of tests administered across the country stood at over 2.9 million, with Ontario leading the country in overall tests completed.
Ontario added the highest number of cases on Thursday at 153, plus an additional 149 cases from Wednesday that were not previously announced due to the Canada Day holiday.
Eight people have died since figures were last released, for a total of 2,680. The province also announced the rollout of its coronavirus contact tracing app would be delayed though no new launch date was provided.
Quebec, the hardest-hit province in the country, added 69 new cases for a total of 55,593. An additional 14 deaths were announced, bringing the province’s total to 5,541.
Alberta, which was also reporting a two-day total, added one death along with 94 cases.
An additional three deaths occurred in B.C. since the province’s last update on Tuesday. The province has also added 24 new COVID-19 cases, including 15 that were not previously announced due to the holiday.
Saskatchewan added 10 cases, four of which were from July 1, along with one additional fatality. Fourteen people have died due to the coronavirus in that province.
Nova Scotia, which is poised to enter a travel “bubble” with the other Atlantic provinces on Friday, counted one new case.
Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and P.E.I, along with Yukon and the Northwest Territories, added no additional cases on Thursday.
Nunavut, which remains the only province or territory where the virus has not been formally diagnosed, announced its first presumptive case of the virus.
Nunavut’s chief public health officer said in a statement that an individual at the Mary River Mine, who had travelled to the territory for work, is in isolation and “doing well.”
A case announced in the territory in April was later determined to be a false positive.
Meanwhile, the U.S. added more than 50,000 coronavirus cases, the highest daily total since the pandemic began.
Around the world, 10.9 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus, and nearly 520,000 have succumbed to COVID-19, according to a tally kept by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
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