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Trudeau says Canada backs Ukraine in seeking justice for Putin's 'heinous war crimes' – CBC News



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sunday, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, touring a blackened, bombed-out suburban community and pledging enduring support for the embattled country.

He also reopened the Canadian Embassy and welcomed the ambassador back to the capital, Kyiv. Trudeau was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and an armed security detachment.

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Trudeau visited the city of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, which was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in March as Russian forces attempted to storm the capital.

Ukrainian troops effectively halted the advance in the area and pushed back the invasion force.

At a news conference with Zelensky, Trudeau praised Ukraine’s president for his leadership and the courage of Ukrainians in defending their country, including those in Irpin.

“It was a true inspiration to see people step up to defend their lives, defend their community, defend a bright future for themselves and their families in the country they love,” the prime minister said.

During a surprise visit to Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, attends a news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, on Sunday. (Efrem Lukatsky/The Associated Press)

He joined a parade of other leaders, dignitaries and celebrities who’ve visited Ukraine to show their support. Rock musicians Bono and The Edge of U2 gave a surprise concert at a Kyiv subway station several blocks from the presidential palace on Sunday.

Trudeau’s visit came on the same day that Russian missiles pounded the southern port city of Odesa, and as rescuers combed the ruins of a school in the eastern Luhansk district, where more than 60 people are thought to have perished in a Russia strike. There was heavy fighting in other eastern portions of the country, including around Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine.

As Trudeau met with Zelensky on Sunday, air raid sirens sounded in the district near the presidential palace, an area of neatly trimmed hedges and gardens that are now cut with giant, jagged trenches and sandbagged barriers.

Trudeau said it was clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for “heinous war crimes” and that Canada would support Ukraine in seeking justice. At the news conference, he also announced military aid in the form of additional drone cameras, satellite imagery, small arms and more artillery shells for the M-777 howitzers Canada has provided.

“I don’t think it much matters what Putin says anymore,” Trudeau said in an exclusive interview with Reuters. “He has demonstrated that he does not have a clear understanding of what’s going on.

“He so profoundly miscalculated by not understanding the extent to which Ukrainians would fight like the heroes they are to defend their language, their identity, their territory. Nor did he understand the resolve with which Western countries would come together to stand up for our democracy and give Ukraine the tools needed to win this war against Putin.”

WATCH | Trudeau applauds resolve of Ukrainians: 

Putin ‘profoundly miscalculated’ Ukraine’s resolve, Trudeau says

1 hour ago

Duration 0:34

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who visited Ukraine on Sunday, said Russian President Vladimir Putin did not understand how intensely Ukrainians would fight to defend themselves from invasion. 0:34

‘Ukraine will prevail’

At the news conference, the prime minister also announced that all duties on Ukrainian imports to Canada would be removed for the next year and that the federal government would place sanctions on Russian individuals and entities.

Asked whether NATO countries were concerned about threats of Russian nuclear warfare, Trudeau said that “no amount of irresponsible sabre-rattling” will deter Ukraine’s supporters.

“Putin and his accomplices will fail. Ukraine will prevail,” Trudeau said at the end of his remarks.

WATCH | Trudeau visits Ukraine as Canada reopens its embassy: 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Ukraine

8 hours ago

Duration 2:37

CBC News breaks down Trudeau’s surprise visit to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. 2:37

During the news conference, Zelensky said he welcomed Canadian support, referring to Trudeau as the leader of a country from which Ukraine could not ask for more support.

Zelensky noted, however, that Canada could be influential in persuading other, more heavily armed NATO members to provide more advanced weaponry to Ukraine.

He also pressed Trudeau to support Ukraine’s call for a modern-day Marshall Plan — a reference to an Allied program to reconstruct the economies of western and southern Europe following the Second World War — for his war-shattered country.

G7 leaders pledge ‘full solidarity’ with Ukraine

Trudeau’s visit was carried out under a news blackout. However, photos of his visit to Irpin were posted on Twitter by the city’s mayor, who met with the prime minister. Trudeau’s visit came on the same day G7 leaders were set to discuss the war in Ukraine, meetings in which Trudeau and Zelensky took part.

In a communiqué issued after the talks, the leaders condemned Russia — which was kicked out of the group in 2014 — and promised “full solidarity and support for Ukraine’s courageous defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The G7 leaders began their statement by marking Victory in Europe Day, the anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, a day that is celebrated on May 9 in Russia and Ukraine.

Trudeau, second from right, speaks with Oleksandr Markushyn, centre, the mayor of Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday. Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in March as Russian forces attempted to storm the capital. (Irpin Mayor’s Office/The Associated Press)

Seventy-seven years after the end of the war, the G7 leaders said, “President Putin and his regime now chose to invade Ukraine in an unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign country. His actions bring shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people.”

There is concern that Russia will use its Victory Day event on Monday to mobilize its population in support of escalating the war in Ukraine.

The G7 leaders also promised on Sunday “further commitments to help Ukraine secure its free and democratic future,” including action on military aid, sanctions, cyber defence, financial support and human rights violation investigations.

“We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine. We owe it to the memory of all those who fought for freedom in the Second World War, to continue fighting for it today, for the people of Ukraine, Europe and the global community.”

Trudeau walks with Markushyn, right, Irpin’s mayor, on Sunday. (Irpin Mayor’s Office/The Associated Press)

Earlier on Sunday, Trudeau took part in a low-key flag-raising at the reopened Canadian Embassy in Kyiv, a symbolic moment that went slightly awry when it was discovered the mechanism to raise the flag on the chosen pole was not working. The flag ended up getting raised on a pole at a metal stairwell on the side of the building.

“This flag came down on Feb. 13th, and we’re really glad to be raising it again above the Canadian embassy,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister made a point of thanking and shaking hands with Sergei Maier, the Ukrainian head of the security team that kept watch over the embassy while it was closed. Maier took the gesture in stride and said he was only doing his job.

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine’s capital also reopened on Sunday.

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A report on wildfire in Lytton, B.C., says more community fireproofing needed



VANCOUVER — A wildfire that destroyed the British Columbia village of Lytton couldn’t have been stopped, even with an area-wide emergency response, says a new report.

Published this month by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, the report says scientists found the root cause was “easily ignitable structures and homes, and not just a wildfire problem.”

Even the best possible fire response would have been “overwhelmed” because at least 20 buildings were fully engulfed within 80 minutes and would have required at least 60 fire trucks to contain, it says.

Alan Westhaver, a wildland urban fire consultant and co-author of the report, said there was nothing the firefighters could have done to prevent the spread once it had started.

“It’s an overwhelming amount of fire in a very short span of time,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

“Firefighting is important. It’s going to be critical, but we have to change the conditions around our homes so that fewer homes ignite.”

Westhaver said there needs to be more co-ordination between governments, agencies, homeowners, corporate landowners and private businesses to help prevent future disasters.

“Everyone in the community needs to work together and do their share and deal with issues on their property because fire does not stop at property lines.”

The report includes 33 specific recommendations for ways to mitigate wildfire risk, while reducing exposure and vulnerabilities within so-called home ignition zones.

They include mandatory mowing of tall grass and weeds around residential areas and evacuation routes, and development changes like minimum distances between buildings. Itwould mean at least an eight-metre distance between one-storey structures and 13 metres for two-storey buildings.

The report also says flammable objects such as firewood should be separated from main buildings.

Wildfire embers are often responsible for starting small spot fires within communities, so making homes more resistant to fires should be a priority, Westhaver added.

Two people were killed in the Lytton fire and most of the village burned to the ground on June 30 last year in the middle of a heat wave that marked the hottest day ever recorded in Canada at 49.6 C in Lytton.

Westhaver said the report findings should also be used to help other communities prepare for wildfires.

“Lytton was an extreme event, but it wasn’t exceptional. The disaster followed a very familiar pattern that we see at virtually all other major wildland urban fire disasters,” he said.

“Wildland fires are inevitable, but wildland urban fire disasters are not.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.


Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press

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Regular travel and public health measures can’t coexist: Canadian Airport Council



OTTAWA — International arrivals at Canadian airports are so backed up that people are being kept on planes for over an hour after they land because there isn’t physically enough space to hold the lineups of travellers, says the Canadian Airports Council.

The council blames COVID-19 protocols and has called on the federal government to do away with random tests and public health questions at customs to ease the serious delays passengers face when they arrive in Canada.

The extra steps mean it takes four times longer to process people as they arrive than it did before the pandemic, said the council’s interim president Monette Pasher. That was fine when people weren’t travelling, but now it’s become a serious problem.

“We’re seeing that we clearly cannot have these public health requirements and testing at our borders as we get back to regular travel,” she said.

The situation is particularly bad at Canada’s largest airport, Toronto Pearson International, where passengers on 120 flights were held in their planes Sunday waiting for their turn to get in line for customs.

Sometimes the wait is 20 minutes, other times it’s over an hour, Pasher said.

Airports are simply not designed for customs to be such a lengthy process, she said, and the space is not available to accommodate people. The airport is also not the right place for COVID-19 tests, she said, especially since tests are rarely required in the community.

“Getting back to regular travel with these health protocols and testing in place, the two can’t coexist without a significant pressure and strain on our system,” Pasher said.

The government is aware of the frustrating lineups at airports, a statement from the transport minister’s office said.

“Current health measures in place are based on the advice of public health experts to protect Canadians. We will continue to base our measures and adjustments on their expert advice,” the statement read.

The ministry is working with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to post more screening officers at checkpoints, the minister’s office said, and the agency is working on hiring even more.

The government will not ask airlines to cut back their flight schedules, the statement noted.

Between May 1 and May 7, about 1.3 per cent of 1,920 travellers tested at airports were COVID-19 positive.

For comparison, 3.46 per cent were positive between April 1 and April 9, though significantly more tests were performed during that time.

Public health measures have scaled up and down over the course of the pandemic as waves of the virus have come and gone. Right now, they are the least restrictive they have been in months, with vaccinated travellers tested only on a random basis.

The requirements are out of step with peer countries, said Conservative transport critic Melissa Lantsman. She said she wants to know why the Canadian government is acting on advice that is different to that of other countries.

“We’re effectively taking the government at their word that they are receiving advice and that they are acting on it, but they haven’t shared any of that with the Canadian public,” she said.

The lengthy delays at the airports send a negative message to travellers and she worries about the impact it will have on Canadian tourism as the industry struggles to get on its feet this season after the pandemic lull.

“It tells you to go elsewhere, that we’re not open for business,” she said.

On Monday, several industry groups, including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, pleaded their case for fewer COVID-19 restrictions at the House of Commons transport committee.

“These are costing our economy deeply and are hurting our international reputation as a top destination for tourism, international conferences and sporting events,” Robin Guy, the chamber’s senior director for transportation policy, told the committee.

The witnesses urged the government to review their COVID-19 regulations at the border and do away with those that are no longer necessary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.


Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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Prince Charles and Camilla kick off Canadian tour – CTV News



St. JOHN’S –

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived Tuesday in St. John’s, N.L., to begin a three-day Canadian tour that will largely focus on reconciliation with Indigenous people.

Under partly cloudy skies, the couple landed at St. John’s International Airport aboard a Canadian government jet. They then headed by motorcade to a welcome ceremony at the provincial legislature with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon.

The couple were met by an honour guard and various dignitaries before shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with people in the crowd. On the steps leading to the legislature, about 100 schoolchildren waved small Canadian and provincial flags.

Grade 6 student Anna Jeans said she was thrilled at the possibility she might get a high-five from Charles or Camilla. “I’m very excited,” she said, bouncing on her toes. “It’s a big opportunity for me.”

Nearby, Tara Kelly — wearing a homemade fascinator with a tall plume of green feathers — said she’s long been a fan of the Royal Family. “It’s a fantasy,” she said.

Inside the Confederation Building’s purple-lit foyer, the prince and the duchess looked on as Innu elder Elizabeth Penashue offered a blessing and Inuk soprano Deantha Edmunds sang.

The event began with a land acknowledgment honouring the province’s five Indigenous groups as well as the Beothuk people, who were among the first inhabitants of Newfoundland, their history stretching back 9,000 years.

Simon welcomed Charles and Camilla to Canada in Inuktitut. She asked Charles and Camilla to listen to the Indigenous groups they will meet in Canada and to learn their stories.

“I encourage you to learn the truth of our history — the good and the bad,” she said. “In this way, we will promote healing, understanding and respect. And in this way, we will also promote reconciliation.”

The prince started his speech by noting that the land that became Canada has been cared for by Indigenous people — First Nations, Metis and Inuit — for thousands of years.

“We must find new ways to come to terms with the darker and more difficult aspects of the past, acknowledging, reconciling and striving to do better,” he said. “It is a process that starts with listening.”

The prince said he had spoken with the Governor General about the “vital process” of reconciliation.

“(It’s) not a one-off act, of course, but an ongoing commitment to healing, respect and understanding,” he said. “I know that our visit this week comes at an important moment with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across Canada, committing to reflect honestly and openly on the past.”

Charles and Camilla then moved on to Government House, the official residence of Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote, the Queen’s representative in the province.

Outside the residence, they will take part in a reconciliation prayer with Indigenous leaders at the Heart Garden, which was built to honour Indigenous children who attended the province’s residential schools.

Earlier in the day, Trudeau said reconciliation will form part of the discussions Charles and Camilla engage in during their visit. But the prime minister avoided answering when asked if he thinks the Queen should apologize for the legacy of residential schools.

“Reconciliation has been a fundamental priority for this government ever since we got elected, and there are many, many things that we all have to work on together,” he said. “But we know it’s not just about government and Indigenous people. It’s about everyone doing their part, and that’s certainly a reflection that everyone’s going to be having.”

Metis National Council President Cassidy Caron has said she intends to make a request for an apology to the prince and duchess during a reception Wednesday at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Caron has said residential school survivors have told her an apology from the Queen is important as she is Canada’s head of state and the leader of the Anglican Church. “The Royals have a moral responsibility to participate and contribute and advance reconciliation,” Caron said in Ottawa on Monday.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools when Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors visited the Vatican. He will travel to Canada to deliver the apology this summer.

Leaders from four of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Indigenous groups were expected to attend the prayer ceremony at the lieutenant-governor’s residence in St. John’s. Elders and residential school survivors were also invited to take part in a smudging ceremony, musical performances, a land acknowledgment and a moment of silence.

Charles and Camilla will then tour Quidi Vidi, a former fishing community in the east end of St. John’s.

The couple are expected to arrive in Ottawa tonight. Their tour will also take them to the Northwest Territories.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.

— With files from Michael MacDonald in Halifax and Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg

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