Canada helps U.S. search Lake Huron for latest object debris
A Canadian Coast Guard vessel churned across the Great Lakes to join the search for answers Monday after U.S. fighter jets shot down yet another mysterious object — the third such spectacle in as many days in the skies over North America.
The CCGS Griffon is also carrying RCMP investigators, as well as a drone team, to help locate debris that the White House confirmed is believed to be in the Canadian waters of Lake Huron, said Fisheries and Oceans Minister Joyce Murray.
Like the two preceding it, little is known about the object, which a senior Canadian military official confirmed was first detected over southern Alberta before moving over Wisconsin on Sunday, when an American missile took it down in U.S. airspace.
“We will do our very best to secure this material so that we can understand better what the purpose and the operations are about,” said Murray. Two Coast Guard helicopters are also standing by to assist if necessary, she added.
At the same time, Canadian Armed Forces personnel and RCMP investigators are also in a remote stretch of central Yukon as they search for the remnants of the object that was downed in that part of the world Saturday, again by a U.S. fighter pilot.
The Royal Canadian Air Force has deployed a CC-130H Hercules, two CC-138 Twin Otters, a CH-148 Cyclone, and a CH-149 Cormorant aircraft to support efforts to recover the debris over what officials described as a 3,000-square-kilometre area.
“It is unfortunately very rugged and mountainous terrain,” said Sean McGillis, executive director of federal policing strategic management at the RCMP, which is leading the two searches.
“The weather conditions are not great,” he said during a technical briefing. “There’s a very high level of snowpack in the region. So our efforts are going to be difficult, they will be challenging, they will take us some time.”
McGillis later added that there was no guarantee that either of the searches, which include personnel experienced in dealing with explosives, biological and radiological hazards as a precaution, would be successful.
Exactly what was shot down over Yukon and Lake Huron remains unclear, though when asked if the object shot down over Yukon was a balloon, Maj.-Gen. Paul Prevost of the strategic joint staff said: “I think the best word I can use here is ‘suspected.'”
“It’s clearly objects that are lighter in the air,” he added. “We cannot see any propulsion system at this time. … They might be balloons. Finding these objects will help us find a bit more on what they are and how they move around.”
Defence Minister Anita Anand previously said the object shot down over Yukon was “potentially similar” to a suspected Chinese spy balloon downed off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.
The object brought down over Lake Huron was the third shot down over North American airspace in as many days.
The first came Friday over the frozen waters of the Arctic Ocean, north of the Alaska coast and just 160 kilometres from the Canada-U.S. border. The second was downed Saturday over Yukon, with both Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau consulting on the plan of action.
Norad commander U.S. Gen. Glen VanHerck confirmed in a briefing that part of the escalation for all of the sudden sightings is that Norad — a system originally designed to spot foreign aircraft and missiles — has recalibrated to better detect smaller, slower-moving objects
“If you have radars on all the time that were looking at anything from zero speed up to, say, (160 kilometres per hour), you would see a lot more information,” VanHerck said.
“So, with some adjustments we’ve been able to get a better a categorization of radar tracks now. And that’s why I think you’re seeing these overall.”
At the same time, the smaller and slower an object is, the harder it is to get a bead on, said John Kirby, the White House co-ordinator of the National Security Council.
“Slow-moving objects at high altitude with a small radar cross-section are difficult to detect on radar,” he told the White House briefing.
The U.S. is convinced the original balloon was a Chinese surveillance device, but they know far less about the other three devices and their provenance, Kirby said. Academic, scientific or corporate research by privately owned or state-owned equipment remains a possibility.
“That said, because we have not yet been able to definitively assess what these most recent objects are, we acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our security, our interests and flight safety.”
Trudeau, who happened to be in Yukon on Monday for a previously scheduled visit, waved off the suggestion that Norad should have detected all four of the incursions more quickly than it actually did, even after the recalibration.
“Actually, we are ensuring that we’re monitoring together the airspace … we’re working very, very closely together,” Trudeau said, describing Norad as one of the only jointly commanded territorial defence systems in the world.
But he also acknowledged that the ongoing effort to upgrade and modernize Norad, a system that political and military leaders in both countries acknowledge is badly outdated, will be a top priority when he meets with Biden in person next month in Canada.
“This is a very serious situation that we are taking incredibly seriously,” Trudeau said. “The importance of defending our territorial integrity, our sovereignty, has rarely been as important as it is now.”
That didn’t stop White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre from opening Monday’s briefing with a public statement confronting the notion that the origins of the objects could be even further afield than first believed.
“There is no — again — no indication of aliens or extra-terrestrial activity with these recent takedowns,” she said from the podium.
“It was important for us to say that from here, because we’ve been hearing a lot about it.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2023.
— With files from Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa.
Here are 5 ways Budget 2023 will impact your wallet
Much of the federal Liberal government’s 2023 budget is geared towards helping Canadian households make ends meet — or at the very least, for example, shaving a few dollars off the cost of a concert ticket.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland teed up the 2023 spending plans as providing support for vulnerable Canadians who are feeling stressed about their own budgets after a year of high inflation and rapidly rising interest rates.
Some proposed measures will make a direct impact on households, while others will change the kinds of charges and interest rates businesses can levy at Canadians.
Here are five big takeaways from the federal budget you’ll want to know about.
Tax rebate aimed at grocery affordability
One highly touted measure in the 2023 budget is a one-time tax rebate aimed at helping Canadians cope with rampant food inflation.
The so-called “grocery rebate,” as reported by Global News and others ahead of the budget’s release on Tuesday, would be aimed at lower-income households. It would be delivered through the existing GST tax credit mechanism, with an estimated 11 million Canadians and families expected to qualify to receive the support.
The rebate is expected to deliver $467 directly to a family of four, $234 to a single Canadian without kids and $225 to the average senior.
Despite the name, the government won’t be checking that the rebate is spent directly on groceries.
But given that prices for food from the grocery store clocked in at 10.6 per cent annual inflation in February and has remained in double-digits since the summer, groceries continue to be major stressors on household budgets.
The timeline for the rollout of this rebate is uncertain and depends on when and if the 2023 budget is passed in Parliament.
Cracking down on ‘junk fees’
In the 2023 budget, the Liberal government is declaring war on “junk fees” — defined as “unexpected, hidden and additional fees” that crop up on everything from concert tickets to airfare, from telecom services to excessive shipping costs.
Details were sparse on how and when the government would tackle these fees, but the budget said Ottawa would work with regulatory agencies, provinces and territories to reduce unfair and excessive costs on some common expenses.
The United States government recently announced a similar crackdown on fees as consumers have swiftly complained online in the past few years about the exorbitant amounts charged for tickets to popular concerts, for example.
While some measures in the 2023 budget might reduce what you pay on airfare, others could see those costs rise.
The air travellers security charge (ATSC), which is typically paid by passengers on their tickets and helps to fund security screening and baggage protection services in Canada, is set to rise under the 2023 budget proposals.
The ATSC rate for a round-trip domestic flight would rise almost $5 to $19.87 under the new regime, while an international flight will see the charge hiked by nearly $9 to $34.42 on a flight out of Canada.
Help on loans
The federal government also announced its plans to help Canadians dealing with high interest rates on some loans.
Debt-servicing payments have grown rapidly over the past year as the Bank of Canada raised interest rates in an effort to cool spending and take some stream out of inflation. A rise in the central bank’s benchmark policy rate affects multiple kinds of debt, including mortgages, lines of credit and credit cards.
For Canadians struggling with mortgage payments after a year of rate hikes, Ottawa proposed a new mortgage code of conduct in the 2023 budget.
Through the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, the document would direct financial institutions to provide Canadians struggling to make mortgage payments with “fair and equitable access to relief measures.”
This could include adjusting payment schedules, extending amortizations on the loan or authorizing lump-sum payments, strategies some lenders already offer to clients who are in danger of defaulting on their mortgage.
Beyond mortgages, Ottawa is also planning to crack down on payday loans and predatory lenders.
The budget notes that these loans often target low-income and other vulnerable Canadians with a promise of quick relief at the cost of “very high interest rate loans” that can end up trapping consumers in a cycle of debt.
The Liberals are proposing to amend the Criminal Code to lower the threshold at which a rate of interest would be considered criminal from today’s annual rate of 47 per cent federally to 35 per cent, in line with the current rate in Quebec.
Payday lenders would also be able to charge Canadians no more than $14 per $100 borrowed under the new regime, bringing it down to the cap currently in place in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Standardizing chargers for devices
The federal government is also planning to cut down on the number of charging cables Canadians have lying around their kitchen drawers by standardizing the charging port for smartphones and other devices.
Following the lead of the European Union, which signalled it would mandate USB-C charging ports for small handheld devices and laptops by the end of 2024, Ottawa will also work with international partners to “explore implementing a standard charging port in Canada,” according to the budget.
The document said standardizing the charging port on phones and other devices could lower costs for Canadians and cut down on electronic waste.
Also in the vein of cutting down on waste, the Liberals are proposing a new “right to repair” framework for existing devices.
Currently, fixing broken appliances or devices can come with high fees or face delays when specific parts aren’t available.
The government is looking to roll out a framework in 2024 to make electronics easier to repair with spare parts expected to be readily accessible.
“By cutting down on the number of devices and appliances that are thrown out, we will be able to make life more affordable for Canadians and protect our environment,” the budget read.
Automatic tax filing to help low-income Canadians
Ottawa is also looking to help the estimated 12 per cent of Canadians who don’t currently file tax returns take advantage of benefits they might currently be missing out on.
Starting in 2023, the Canada Revenue Agency is expected to pilot a new “automatic filing system” to help vulnerable Canadians who don’t regularly file taxes receive the benefits they’re entitled to receive.
The government also intends to expand its existing auto-file program, File My Return, which sees low-income Canadians file returns by answering a few questions over the phone.
Ottawa plans to nearly triple the number of Canadians eligible for the auto-file program to two million by 2025.
PLAY to offer flights to Amsterdam from Hamilton airport
Amsterdam will be available to Canadian travellers on June 22
Hamilton, ON, March 28, 2023 – PLAY, a low-cost airline operating flights between Iceland and Europe, has added Amsterdam to its summer schedule. Tickets for the new route are now available for purchase, and the destination will be available for Canadian travellers when PLAY launches its inaugural flight out of Hamilton on June 22.
As a transatlantic carrier between Europe and North America, PLAY operates from its hub at Keflavik Airport in Iceland, perfectly positioned between the two continents.
From John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, Canadian passengers can fly to Amsterdam for as low as $169. Travel for this new route will be facilitated through Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
Since its first flight in June 2021, PLAY has expanded its fleet from three Airbus A320neo aircraft to six in 2022 and will operate 10 Airbus A320/321neo aircraft in 2023. The average age of PLAY’s aircraft is just 2.3 years, making the passengers’ journey comfortable, safe and reliable. With a network of nearly 40 destinations and over a million passengers flown since its launch, PLAY has a solid track record of an impressive 87 per cent on-time performance in 2023.
In Iceland, PLAY is a listed company in the Icelandic stock market with around 4.000 shareholders.
“We are thrilled to launch our services to Amsterdam and connect more customers to our affordable travel options,” said Birgir Jónsson, CEO, PLAY. “Amsterdam is one of Europe’s biggest hubs and a vital destination for our VIA operations between Canada and Europe. At PLAY, our mission is clear: to provide low-cost flights and offer our customers more value for their money. We aim to give the competition a run for their money with our low prices, providing people in Canada the opportunity to save money on their flights and enjoy more experiences in their destination. As we like to say at PLAY: Pay less, PLAY more.”
Learn more or book a flight at flyplay.com. See media assets here.
PLAY is a low-cost airline operating flights between Iceland and Europe, and North America as of 2022. Founded in Reykjavík in 2019 by a management team with significant experience in the aviation industry, the company operates flights on new Airbus A321NEO and A320NEO aircraft, offering streamlined, no-frills service that allows travelers to pay less and “play more.” Safety comes first for PLAY. On-time performance, simplicity, happiness and low prices are the airline’s core principles. The airline seeks to enable passengers to see the world, but not without considering its environmental impact. PLAY is being developed with sustainability initiatives and benchmarks in place to track and reduce fuel consumption, offset carbon emissions, and limit waste. Learn more or book a flight at flyplay.com or follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @PLAYairlines. For media resources, visit PLAY’s online newsroom, flyplay.com/media.
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The Recipee Band Brings Back The LIIVE Reunion
THE “LIIVE REUNION”
“Are you ready?”
Toronto, ON – The Recipee Band’s live music experience that ran for 7 years returns!! April 6th at the Black Pearl Restaurant, 184 Pearl Street Toronto. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite with limited tickets at the door. The event is 80% sold. Don’t miss out on the iconic sound of Canada’s “The Recipee” band and their special guests, Mike Ferfolia, Jarelle, Oh! The Artist, Yosvanii, and more. The group are known for the passion of their music, combining R&B, Gospel, Reggae, Pop, Rock, and Soul. Their first single, “Edges Laid (Tonight)” is an example of the strength of the combined talent each of the band members brings every time they step into the studio or live on stage. 2023 will bring two highly anticipated singles from “The Recipee” followed by an album in 2024.
“The Recipee” band members, Jason Larmond, Otis Williams, Juwayon Clarke, Jonathan Kerr and Omar Lunan, continue to perform at major events with Juno and Grammy winning artists. Their soulful sound and ability to connect with sold out audiences everywhere is respected both nationally and internationally. “The Recipee” has performed with Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Deborah Cox, Andy Kim, Ray Robinson, Daniel Caesar, Brandy, Foxy Brown, Ginuwine, Usher, 98 Degrees, Jordan Knight & Carvin Winans as well as Canada’s very own Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, Divine Brown, Shawn Desman & Shawn Hook. With a Canadian Urban Music Award, and drumming championships, the group is constantly evolving… securing their set at the table. Get your tickets now to The April 6th “Live Reunion” Music Event. “The Recipee” will bring the house down!!!
DATE: April 6, 2023
TIME: DOORS OPEN: 8PM DINNER: 9PM SHOW: 10PM
Follow the Recipee Band:
Media RSVP & Inquiries:
Sasha Stoltz Publicity:
Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804
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