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Tour boats at Niagara Falls show contrast between U.S., Canadian approach to COVID-19 –



The two boats tell very different stories.

Aboard Maid of the Mist VII, passengers in blue ponchos appear to fill the top deck and wrap around the lower level as it sails on the American side of Niagara Falls. The passing Canadian-run Hornblower is all but empty with just a handful of people wrapped in red, huddled in pairs near the railing.

Images of the boats cruising past each other below the iconic landmark have caused discussion to swell on social media, with many suggesting the stark contrast in passengers is symbolic of the difference in the Canadian and American approaches to COVID-19.

It’s a contrast Hornblower Niagara Cruises vice-president Mory DiMaurizio said he’s noticed too.

“When you look at what’s happening in Ontario or Canada, there’s clearly a difference,” he said.

“That’s clearly evident in terms of what’s happening with respect to the number of infections and recoveries and deaths proportionate to the population base of our two countries.”

Although the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise across the United States, Canada has largely fared better, helped by strict physical distancing measures and mask requirements in several jurisdictions.

At the famous waterfalls on the U.S.-Canadian border, Canadian ferries are limited to just six passengers per boat, out of a 700-person capacity. But on the U.S. side, the ferries are operating at 50 per cent capacity, according to Maid of the Mist boat tours.

“We actually took a picture of the [American] boat,” said Julie Pronovost, visiting from Quebec with her family on Tuesday. “I don’t find that it’s very safe to be on a boat like that. It’s much better here.”

A spokesperson for the Maid of the Mist did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the company’s website said it was following the guidance of New York State public health officials.

The boats contain markers to keep visitors spaced out, and face coverings are compulsory, among other safety changes, it said.

DiMaurizio said his cruise line is also following health precautions, including temperature checks and mandatory masks for everyone on board.

They’re currently able to transport 10 people, but that number also includes four crew members needed to make the trip.

“The visuals are pretty ridiculous. You’ve got this giant vessel with six people on it, but that’s what’s permitted,” he explained.

“Of course, when we look across the way at our competitor, we would love to have the ability to carry 30 per cent or 50 per cent, but to do so in a safe way is equally important, or even more important.”

Slowly turning up the volume

Tourists at the falls on Tuesday said they felt much safer with the six-person per boat limit.

“I’m glad I’m in Canada,” said Amanda Barnes of Brampton, Ont. “You can see why the pandemic is raging in the United States and not in Canada when you look at the difference between the boats.”

Jose Mannucci, Mariah Wilson and Jasmine Demers ride the Canadian tourist boat Hornblower, on Tuesday. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

The United States reported 57,777 new COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, compared with Canada’s 786. Since the outbreak began, the U.S. has reported around 118 coronavirus cases per 10,000 residents, while Canada has around 30.

DiMaurizio compared Ontario’s approach to COVID-19 to “turning the volume up slowly.”

The latest increase in volume is set to happen Friday, when Niagara moves into Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan.

Under those guidelines, Hornblower will be able to boost its number of passengers to 100, DiMaurizio said, but he expects the visual comparison between the two cruise companies will still be stark.

Those 100 people will still be “on a vessel that holds 700 passengers so it’s still going to look really skinny … on that vessel,” he said, pointing out that space leaves ample room for physical distancing.

“It’s still going to look pretty empty. But we’ll take it.”

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Albanian man extradited to Canada in connection with deadly 2014 crash in Richmond, B.C. –



Richmond RCMP have announced the successful extradition of an Albanian man who left Canada in 2014 shortly after being involved in a crash that claimed the life of a 36-year-old cyclist.

In a statement, RCMP wrote that on the afternoon of July 30, 2014, 33-year-old Erjon Kashari was driving a red Pontiac Aztek northbound, approaching the intersection of Russ Baker Way and Gilbert Road. 

The statement said the vehicle was “approaching a red light at the intersection, when it suddenly veered right, drove over a concrete island at the intersection and struck a cyclist, before coming to rest in the grass off-road.”

The crash killed cyclist Christy Mahy of Richmond, who died in hospital.

Kashari was in Canada on a work permit at the time but left shortly afterwards. RCMP said charges were laid and a warrant was issued for his arrest in June 2018.

In July 2019, Kashari was taken into custody by Albanian police and held for extradition. The Richmond RCMP’s General Investigation Section then began the process to bring Kashari back to Canada to stand trial.

On Aug. 11, 2020, Richmond investigators travelled to Albania where Kashari was transferred to their custody and escorted back to Canada. He remains in custody facing one count of criminal negligence causing death.

Police say Interpol, Albanian authorities, the Department of Justice, the International Assistance Group, the Canada Border Services Agency, and RCMP liaison officers in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Albania all assisted with the successful extradition.


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Rola Dagher, president of Cisco Systems Canada, calls on Canadians to help rebuild Beirut –



When Rola Dagher first heard about the blast that rocked Beirut last week, she couldn’t move.

“Shocked, heartbroken, devastated and I froze. I don’t think I got out of my chair for four hours,” Dagher told CBC Toronto News at 6 host Dwight Drummond in an interview that aired on Wednesday.

Her nephew, a volunteer firefighter, was missing and her sister told her, crying, that she didn’t know if he was alive or not. After five hours and many phone calls, Dagher said her sister finally found out he had survived. 

The blast itself was unreal, she said.

“It was like watching a movie. We couldn’t believe that it was real. I couldn’t stop crying. But at the same time, I was absolutely determined to find my nephew and to make sure that everyone is safe first,” she said.

Dagher, a Lebanese Canadian businesswoman who now lives in Toronto, said she knew she had to help. Thirty-one years ago, she left Lebanon, where she was born. She is now president of Cisco Systems Canada.

She said called about 10 Lebanese-Canadian leaders she knew and convinced them they had to give back to the community.

“I said, ‘We can’t be sitting here and just watching the news.’ I said: ‘We’re blessed for being in a country like Canada that is safe but it’s our job and our duty to give back to our community,'” she said.

‘Life is an opportunity for us to make the best of it’

“And I said: ‘We need to start the conversation and we need to start something and we need to lobby the government and we need to go after every single Lebanese person in Canada to start a movement.'” 

Those calls led to the formation of the Lebanese Canadian Coalition that has pledged to raise $2.5 million for relief efforts in Beirut. It was up and running in three days.

Watch Rola Dagher talk to Dwight Drummond about the blast that rocked Beirut and the movement she has helped to start:

It has been just over a week since a massive explosion rocked Beirut. The Lebanese Canadian Coalition is trying to raise $2.5 M to donate toward recovery efforts. One of its leaders is Rola Dagher, the president of Cisco Canada. CBC Toronto News at 6 anchor Dwight Drummond sat down with her this week to talk about the movement she wants to help start. 7:44

The massive explosion of nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate in Beirut’s port on Aug. 4 killed at least 171 people, injured about 6,000 others and caused widespread damage.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government has agreed to match all donations made by Canadians to specific humanitarian organizations between the dates of Aug. 4 and Aug. 24, up to a maximum of $5 million.

Now, Dagher says, the fundraising begins.

“If every Canadian donates a dollar, we can make a difference,” she says.

“We definitely need more support because what Lebanon is going through right now, it’s surreal. It’s going to take Lebanon a long time to rebuild.”

Members of the Lebanese-Canadian community light candles at a weekend vigil in Toronto for those killed in the blast in Beirut. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Dagher acknowledged to Drummond that she is making a name for herself as a business leader who has been outspoken on such subjects as immigration and mental health.

Last year, she was named one of the 2019 WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant winners 2019 and the 2019 Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) Woman of the Year.

“My father taught me something that I would never forget: ‘Life owes you nothing. Life is an opportunity for us to make the best of it.’ And I learned everything that I know. I earned it because I worked hard. And the only way I could be blessed is to return it,” she says.

In an interview with Canadian Immigrant magazine this year, Dagher was asked to share her main piece of advice for people new to Canada. She said: “Learn it, earn it and return it.”

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Coronavirus deaths top 9,000 in Canada – National | – Global News



The novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 9,000 people in Canada since the virus was first confirmed in the country in late January.

The sobering milestone was reached on Aug. 12, after Quebec reported 12 more deaths attributed to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Read more:
Quebec reports 3rd consecutive day of fewer than 100 new coronavirus cases

To date, there have been a total of 120,554 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,004 deaths across the country. Just over 107,000 people infected with the virus — or approximately 89 per cent of all cases — have recovered.

Based on data from the most recent seven days, an average of 443 new coronavirus cases have been reported daily across the country, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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“Presently, our efforts indicate that we are keeping COVID-19 spread under manageable control — but the virus is still circulating in Canada and we must not let down our guard,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Fortunately, the number of new deaths reported daily has remained low following a steep decline from the peak in early May when close to 200 deaths were reported daily. Fewer than 10 deaths have been reported per day on average over the last four weeks.”

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Provincial breakdown

Quebec continues to be the province with the largest caseload and highest death toll, reporting a total of 60,813 cases and 5,709 deaths to date. Eleven of the 12 new deaths recorded in that province occurred earlier in the year but were only reported Wednesday.

Ontario — Canada’s most populous province — follows, with a total of 40,289 reported cases and 2,787 deaths.

Health officials in Ontario said 95 new cases of the novel coronavirus were identified on Wednesday, and said one more death related to the virus had occurred.

The large majority of confirmed cases in both Ontario and Quebec have recovered, according to public health data.

Read more:
Ontario reports 95 new coronavirus cases, 1 death; total cases at 40,289

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Nunavut, meanwhile, continues to be the only province or territory without a single confirmed case of the virus.

Of the western provinces, Alberta has the largest outbreak, reporting a total of 11,772 cases and 216 deaths to date. British Columbia has reported 4,068 cases and 195 deaths so far.

In Saskatchewan five new cases of the virus were reported on Wednesday, bringing the province’s total to 1,484. So far 20 have died.

Manitoba saw new 16 new cases of the virus. Since the pandemic began the province has seen 578 infections and 8 deaths.

Group testing key to early coronavirus detection in Saskatchewan schools, biochemist says

Group testing key to early coronavirus detection in Saskatchewan schools, biochemist says

The Yukon and the Northwest Territories have reported 15 and five cases, respectively; neither territory has reported a single death attributed to COVID-19.

To the east, there have been 1,071 cases and 64 deaths in Nova Scotia. New Brunswick has reported 178 cases and two fatalities.

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Read more:
No new cases of coronavirus in Nova Scotia on Wednesday

Prince Edward Island has reported the lowest number of cases and deaths in Atlantic Canada with 36 cases and no fatalities. Newfound and Labrador has confirmed 268 COVID-19 cases and three deaths.

The novel coronavirus was first detected in China at the end of December 2019. The outbreak of the virus was declared a global pandemic a few months later, on Mar. 11, 2020.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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