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Trucker convoy: PM says protesters have to stop – CTV News

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling for an end to the trucker convoy protests that are now stretching into their second week in the nation’s capital.

“It has to stop,” Trudeau said during an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday night. “Everyone’s tired of COVID, but these protests are not the way to get through it.”

In his address Trudeau vowed his government will “be there” to meet the requests for assistance, as pressure ramps up for all levels of authorities to get on the same page to see control restored in the city as the anti-COVID-19 mandate demonstrators dig in.

“People of Ottawa don’t deserve to be harassed in their own neighbourhoods, don’t deserve to be confronted with the inherent violence of a swastika flying on a street corner, or a confederate flag, or the insults and jeers just because they’re wearing a mask. That’s not who Canadians are,” the prime minister said. “These pandemic restrictions are not forever.”

After a second weekend of protests and an uptick in tickets and arrests, the mayor of Ottawa declared a state of emergency on Sunday. As of Monday evening, hundreds of trucks continue to clog streets throughout the city and organizers show no signs of packing up.

The debate was called by the New Democratic Party. With worldwide attention fixated on Ottawa, the party said the situation had reached “a crisis point.”

In his address Trudeau vowed his government will “be there” to meet the requests for assistance, as pressure ramps up for all levels of authorities to get on the same page to see control restored in the city as the anti-COVID-19 mandate demonstrators dig in.

Trudeau, who tested positive for COVID-19 one week ago, was scheduled to be in “private meetings” throughout the day and his attendance in-person for the debate was a last-minute addition to his itinerary.

From the outset of the protests, Trudeau has taken the position that he has no plans to negotiate after expressing his disgust over the behaviour of some participants during the first weekend of protests, including those expressing hatred and displaying violent sentiments towards Trudeau. 

“I am here because Parliament is working,” said the prime minister, noting once again that Canadians had their say on vaccine mandates — democratically in the 2021 federal election.He applauded MPs who have also called for an end to the blockades, among all parties, saying that now is the time for partisanship to fall to the wayside.

PM ACCUSED OF BEING M.I.A. AMID CRISIS

His appearance in the Chamber comes after opposition parties had accused the prime minister of being “missing in action” on the second Monday of the demonstrations.

Conservative interim leader Candice Bergen came out swinging in question period Monday, suggesting Trudeau was “in hiding” over the trucker convoy, an issue that’s divided members of her party after Bergen took a strong stance in favour of the protesters’ self-proclaimed fight for freedom through the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

During the debate, Bergen and other Conservative MPs spoke about how they feel the prime minister has pushed the country to be more divided than ever before, questioning whether he regrets speaking disparagingly about unvaccinated Canadians or using “divisive” mandates to try to control the virus, and suggesting he listen to what those still on Wellington Street are asking for.

“We are in uncharted territory. We are at a crisis point, not only with what’s going on out the doors across the country, but the country overall, and so much of it is because of the things that he has said and done. Does he regret his words? And will he work with us so that we can find some resolution?” Bergen said.

In response, Trudeau said he doesn’t agree that the country is more divided after the pandemic, rather in his view Canadians have spent the last two years stepping up for each other, noting that 88 per cent of the eligible population has gotten vaccinated, with thousands week after week continue to roll up their sleeves to receive their shots.

“This pandemic has sucked for all Canadians, but Canadians know the way to get through it is to continue listening to science,” he said. “It’s not because Canadians love getting needles.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was the one to request the debate, and kicked off the night’s conversation highlighting the harassment local citizens, health-care workers, and journalists have faced in the last week from convoy supporters.

“This convoy protest is not a peaceful protest,” Singh said. “The honking, and the noise, and the fireworks… Most of that activity happens at night when there’s no one in Parliament, so they’re clearly not targeting Parliament. The convoy is certainly not about helping workers, or small businesses hurt by the lockdowns. The behavior and activity of this convoy has directly impacted workers.”

The NDP have suggested that the debate would also be used to discuss the “significant amount of funding coming from the U.S.”—an element the federal officials also fixated on in Monday’s update.

LATEST ON FEDERAL ASSISTANCE

Earlier on Monday, federal officials held a press conference calling for the trucker convoy protests to end, and pledging to plan next steps in coordination with provincial and municipal governments.

“These blockades and occupations need to end. Unlawful activities are not the way to offer meaningful involvement in government policy development,” said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra on Monday.

Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair said during the federal update—the first of its kind since the “Freedom Convoy” protests kicked off—that the federal government is willing to strike a “trilateral table” to better allow the various parties responsible for managing the standoff to respond efficiently to the “fluid and dynamic situation.”

Ottawa residents—a number of which have been subjected to continuous honking and street harassment for 11 days—are growing increasingly frustrated as the protesters dig in on their demand for politicians to end all COVID-19 mandates.

Several ministers expressed regret Monday about the amount of local disruption the ongoing demonstrations have caused, but continue to maintain that the city and the province have the tools and the jurisdiction to best respond.

One thing the government did commit to doing Monday, was to talk with Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney about enacting existing regulatory powers over the commercial trucking industry, including suspending commercial licenses and insurance for the owners of the equipment blockading streets for days on end.

“It’s clear, blockades of streets and bridges is against the law and should bring serious consequences for the owners,” the transport minister said, thanking the majority of truckers who remain on the road, upholding Canada’s supply chains.

Continuing to describe the city as under “siege,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson started the day reviving his suggestion that it’s time for the federal government to step in more fully, something both he and Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly have suggested will be needed to see an end to the demonstrations, as local police struggle to contain the situation.

During a press conference ahead of the federal update, Sloly said his officers are “stretched to the limit,” asking that all levels of government “bring whatever they can bring to bear” to help see a peaceful and sustainable end to the demonstration.

Watson sent letters Monday to both Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford asking for a dramatic increase to the city’s law enforcement capacity as soon as possible, including 1,800 officers to “quell the insurrection.” Watson said 600 of these officers would be focused on maintaining “public order,” while others would focus on a range of supports including social media and financial forensics.

During Monday night’s debate, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino indicated that additional resources will be provided.

“I can confirm that the RCMP has received, and approved a request for additional officers,” he said. “I have requested information throughout the day from the RCMP Commissioner and from other representatives to make sure that we are doing what we can to end this convoy and reestablish law and order in Ottawa.”

Federally, 275 RCMP officers have already been called in to assist. The Canadian Armed Forces has yet to indicate they have any plans to become involved, and calling in the military is a move that has rarely been taken in the history of civilian demonstrations in this country.

STANDING BY MANDATES

Amid the continued calls from protesters both in Ottawa and seen at similar demonstrations across the country over the weekend, federal officials are standing ardently by their support of vaccine mandates, saying the government cannot and will not let an “angry crowd” sway policymakers off a science-based path to putting the pandemic in the rearview mirror.

“No matter how much a small minority may hold themselves above public health measures, they are not above the law,” said the federal government in a statement outlining their next steps.

Mendicino said Monday that looking at the big picture, Ottawa residents have “effectively been held hostage,” in contrast to the relatively smooth experiences locals had in other cities.

Mendicino said that he’s been glad to see in the last 48 hours an increase in tickets and arrests, as convoy participants have “crossed the line.” However, going forward he hopes it’s clear to all involved that “we can’t find ourselves in a similar situation again.”

“It would be a terrible precedent to say that if you show up to the nation’s capital with heavy equipment and blockade the capital city that you can force reckless change in our public policy,” he said.

‘FIND SOME COMMON GROUND’

The suggestion was also made Monday by mayor Watson that Trudeau could appoint a mediator to be “an honest broker on both sides to try to find some common ground, if that’s possible,” to bring an end to the demonstrations in the city’s downtown.

“Someone of great stature in our community and the country who can actually open doors and bring some peace and calm to the situation,” Watson said. “Because right now we’re at a complete standoff.”

Singh said Monday that he doesn’t agree with Watson’s suggestion, because in his view, the organizers of the convoy have “made it clear their intention is to overthrow the government.”

Monday marked the second week of MPs returning to work in West Block directly in front of where a large concentration of trucks has now been parked for 11 days. Throughout the protests MPs have been cautioned about security risks associated with the convoy.

Over the weekend, Ottawa police said they were “actively working with Canadian, U.S. and international security agencies authorities to investigate email-based threats to public officials.”

On Monday MPs were alerted that three constituency offices not located outside of Ottawa reported receiving large brown manila envelopes that were deemed “suspicious.” There has been no confirmation that these packages are connected to the convoy protests.

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Canada first to sign off on Finland, Sweden joining NATO – CTV News

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Canada became the first country to ratify Finland and Sweden’s accession protocols to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday.

The move follows NATO leaders officially inviting the two nations to join the alliance during a summit in Madrid last week, and brings the two countries a step closer to becoming full NATO members.

“Canada has full confidence in Finland and Sweden’s ability to integrate quickly and effectively into NATO and contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“Their membership will make NATO stronger and we call on all NATO members to move swiftly to complete their ratification processes to limit opportunities for interference by adversaries.”

According to The Associated Press, all 30 NATO allies signed off on the accession protocols on Tuesday, sending the membership bids to each nation for legislative approval. Both Canada and Denmark were quick to turn around their ratification documents.

“Thank You Canada! Canada is the first country to deliver its instrument of ratification to the United States Department of State, the depository of the North Atlantic Treaty!” tweeted Sweden’s Ambassador to Canada Urban Ahlin.

In Canada, the federal government made moves domestically to move through the ratification quickly, Trudeau said. This included issuing orders-in-council authorizing Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly to “take the actions necessary to ratify, on behalf of Canada.”

Ahead of Parliament adjourning for the summer, the House of Commons debated and voted on a motion signalling their support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

In May, the House Public Safety and National Security Committee adopted a motion expressing “strong support” for the two Scandanavian countries’ membership in the alliance. The motion also called on all NATO members to approve their applications as quickly as possible.

A debate was held on this motion on June 1, and it passed unanimously when put to a vote the following day.

“Russia’s war in Ukraine has actualized something that was once only theoretical. An authoritarian state led by an autocrat has attacked a democracy: It has demonstrated that it is willing and able to attack a democracy. It has made clear that democracies that stand alone and are not part of military alliances are most vulnerable,” said Conservative MP and foreign affairs critic Michael Chong during the House debate. “That is why it has become necessary to bring both Sweden and Finland into the NATO alliance. This is an urgent matter.”

Also taking part in the debate, NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said she supports Finland and Sweden doing all they can to prevent their countries from being threatened further by Russia.

“Prior to the further invasion of Ukraine, support for NATO membership was around 20 to 30 per cent in Sweden and Finland. Now, 76 per cent of Finnish people support joining NATO. Very simply, Vladimir Putin and the aggression of the Russian Federation are responsible for escalating tensions in the region and leading Sweden and Finland to seek NATO membership,” McPherson said.

With NATO member countries having different processes for completing ratification, it could be some time still before the two nations formally become a part of the longstanding intergovernmental military alliance.

With files from Senior Political Correspondent for CTV News Channel Mike Le Couteur

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Canada Day Ottawa: 12 arrested, 50 charges laid – CTV News Ottawa

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Ottawa police say 50 criminal charges were laid over the Canada Day long weekend and 12 people were arrested.

Last Friday marked the first Canada Day in Ottawa with major in-person events since 2019. Thousands of tourists and residents came downtown to celebrate the holiday. In the mix were several hundred protesters associated with the “Freedom Convoy” movement that paralyzed downtown Ottawa in February.

Ottawa police were out in force starting June 29 with the implementation of the downtown vehicle control zone, which was meant to prevent another vehicle-based occupation of the city.

Police said they arrested a dozen people in downtown Ottawa between June 29 and July 3, including people who were not involved in Canada Day events or protests. On top of the 50 criminal charges, four charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act were also laid.

One man was arrested on Parliament Hill June 29 for causing a disturbance. He was taken back to Toronto on an outstanding warrant.

On June 30, police charged one person with breach of release orders and Highway Traffic Act offences after a traffic stop on Highway 417 at Anderson Road.

Later that day, three people were arrested following an incident at the National War Memorial in which a police officer was allegedly choked. Charges include assaulting police, resisting arrest, causing a disturbance, and assault by choking. This incident came shortly after Canadian soldier James Topp, who is facing a court martial for criticizing the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rules in uniform, completed his cross-country walk protesting vaccine mandates. Hundreds of people had gathered at the War Memorial to hear Topp speak.

On Canada Day, one man was arrested and charged for allegedly pulling a knife on RCMP officers near LeBreton Flats after officers broke up a fight. Two more people were arrested and face several assault charges after an attack in the ByWard Market.

On July 2, police arrested two people in a vehicle and seized a handgun. Several gun and drug charges were laid. Patrol officers also seized a gun in Sandy Hill that afternoon and charged a man with drug and gun offences.

On July 3, police arrested a woman for public intoxication who allegedly spit in an officer’s face. She now also faces an assault charge.

Ottawa police did not name any of the accused.

Police are also investigating paint on public property in Strathcona Park and on Wellington Street. Protesters painted messages about convoy organizers Pat King and Tamara Lich on Wellington Street on Canada Day. Police also said earlier they laid 19 impaired driving charges over the long weekend.

Ottawa Bylaw towed 121 vehicles from the vehicle control zone between June 29 and July 3 and issued 513 parking tickets. 

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Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly to take part in G20 despite Russia’s presence

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OTTAWA — Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly will take part in a G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, this week, even though Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is also expected to attend.

In March, Joly joined many others in walking out of a United Nations meeting in Geneva when Lavrov, whom Canada had brought sanctions against days earlier, began speaking.

In April, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland joined a walkout of a G20 meeting for finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In May, International Trade Minister Mary Ng joined her counterparts from the United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand in leaving an APEC meeting in Bangkok when the Russian representative began to speak.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would take part in the G20 leaders’ meeting in November, even if President Vladimir Putin goes too, saying it is important to counteract the voice that Russia will have at that table.

Joly, who recently said it was unacceptable for a Canadian official to attend a reception hosted by the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, is expected to join other foreign ministers at the G20 meeting in opposing the ongoing war in Ukraine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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