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Trudeau says Canadians ‘have to intervene’ somehow in Haiti, convenes incident group

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OTTAWA — Haiti’s ambassador to Canada faced stiff questioning Wednesday over his country’s controversial request for a foreign military intervention, as the Liberals argue Ottawa must respond to a cascade of humanitarian crises.

“The violence orchestrated by armed gangs is blocking the country and plunging millions of Haitians into an acute humanitarian crisis,” ambassador Wien-Weibert Arthus told the House foreign-affairs committee in French.

“It is a desperate situation for which there must be a solution.”

Rampaging gangs have cut off access to Haiti’s primary fuel terminal, leading to power outages and unclean water that has worsened a cholera outbreak.

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Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has called for a foreign military intervention to restore order.

Henry’s government has been in charge since the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, and has argued that the country cannot have an election during instability from COVID-19 outbreaks and now widespread organized crime.

Arthus noted children have been out of school since June, and urged Canada to help not only stabilize the country but provide aid for infrastructure, to stop a cycle of poverty.

He said his country has barely recovered from the 2010 earthquake, but putting Haitians to work could avoid future instability.

Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg challenged Arthus on rampant government corruption in Haiti, and asked whether the request for foreign intervention amounts to an admission of failure.

“Umm, next question,” Arthus responded in French.

“In the soul of any Haitian, a foreign force is never welcome in the country,” he said at another point in his testimony.

Dubourg, a Montreal MP who immigrated from Haiti, also asked whether Canada needs to hold accountable elements of Haiti’s current government that are contributing to the corruption and impunity for violence.

“Each person who finances gangs must be sanctioned,” Arthus said in French, noting he has lost some of his own relatives to violence.

Dubourg also argued there is “no credible plan” for getting Haiti out of its crises, and Arthus acknowledged a lack of political consensus in Haiti but said there is widespread support for Canada to help.

“I’m not a dreamer but I keep hope that we will end up finding an agreement between Haitians,” he said in French.

Bloc Québécois MP Stéphane Bergeron said in French that many in the Haitian diaspora have concerns about Canada working with “a government whose legitimacy is highly questioned” and barely controls its own territory.

Arthus responded that Henry has addressed international bodies and leaders such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Earlier Wednesday, Trudeau told reporters he’s aware that many Haitians are uncomfortable with a foreign military intervention.

“At the same time, we look at the crisis, rapes, the violence, the poverty and the cholera and health crisis. And then we say to ourselves, we have to intervene in one way or another,” he told reporters in French.

Trudeau also convened a meeting Wednesday of cabinet ministers known as the Incident Response Group, which meets only when something has “major implications for Canada,” to discuss Haiti.

The group had a similar meeting two weeks ago. Since then, Canada dispatched a team to assess the beleaguered Caribbean nation, and it has returned and briefed senior officials in Ottawa.

On Monday, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti said Canada will be expected to take a leading role in assisting the country, as it’s among the most respected nations in Port-au-Prince.

Canada and the U.S. have already sent armoured vehicles to Haiti. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Ottawa and Montreal, and hinted that Canada could play a key role in a military intervention.

The United Nations is currently contemplating a motion that would authorize a mission, which has been endorsed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

U.S. officials say the UN resolution is expected to pass by early November, and have mentioned Canada as a candidate to lead such a mission.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2022.

— With files from Emilie Bergeron

 

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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Canada commits $800 million to support Indigenous-led conservation projects

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Ottawa will spend up to $800 million to support four major Indigenous-led conservation projects across the country covering nearly one million square kilometres of land and water, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday.

Trudeau made the announcement at the Biosphere environment museum in Montreal accompanied by Indigenous leaders and federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault as a UN meeting on global biodiversity, known as COP15, takes place in the city.

Trudeau said the four projects — which will be located in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, northern Ontario and Nunavut — will be developed in partnership with the communities in question.

“Each of these projects is different because each of these projects is being designed by communities, for communities,” he said.

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Chief Jackson Lafferty, of the Tlicho government in the Northwest Territories, said Indigenous groups have long been working to protect their lands and water but have lacked the resources and tools to fully do so.

Lafferty, who attended the announcement, called the funding “a significant step forward on a path to reconciliation across Canada.”

Among the projects to be funded is a marine conservation and sustainability initiative in the Great Bear Sea along British Columbia’s north coast, championed by 17 First Nations in the area.

Another project includes protection for boreal forests, rivers and lands across the Northwest Territories, spearheaded by 30 Indigenous governments.

Funds will also go to an Inuit-led project involving waters and land in Nunavut’s Qikiqtani region and to a project in western James Bay to protect the world’s third largest wetland, led by the Omushkego Cree in Ontario.

Trudeau told reporters that the exact details of the agreements have yet to be worked out — including which portions of the lands will be shielded from resource extraction.

The Indigenous partners, he said, will be able to decide which lands need to be completely protected and where there can be “responsible, targeted development.”

“We know we need jobs, we know we need protected areas, we know we need economic development,” he said. “And nobody knows that, and the importance of that balance, better than Indigenous communities themselves that have been left out of this equation, not just in Canada but around the world, for too long.”

Dallas Smith, president of Nanwakolas Council, said the B.C. funding to help protect the Great Bear Sea would allow Indigenous groups to build on previous agreements to protect the terrestrial lands of Great Bear Rainforest, which were announced about 15 years ago.

“I did media all over the world, and I got home and my elder said, ‘Don’t sprain your arm patting yourself on the back, because until you do the marine component, it doesn’t mean anything,'” he said.

Grand Chief Alison Linklater of the Mushkegowuk Council, which represents seven Cree communities in northern Ontario, said their traditional territory includes ancient peatlands that store “billions of tons” of carbon, as well as wetlands that are home to many migratory birds and fish, and 1,200 kilometres of coastline.

She said caring for the lands is one of her sacred duties as grand chief and one of the main concerns of the people she represents.

“Without our lands and waters we do not exist,” she told the news conference.

In a statement, the federal government said the program would employ a “unique funding model” bringing together government, Indigenous Peoples, philanthropic partners and other investors to secure long-term financing for community-led conservation projects.

The government did not specify how much of the funding would be allocated for each project.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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B.C. Premier David Eby unveils his new cabinet

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B.C. Premier David Eby to reveal new cabinet with health, safety, housing priorities

Here is a list of British Columbia Premier David Eby‘s ministers following his first major cabinet shuffle since taking over as leader:

Agriculture and Food — Pam Alexis (new to cabinet)

Attorney General — Niki Sharma (new to cabinet)

Children and Family Development — Mitzi Dean (unchanged)

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Citizens’ Services — Lisa Beare

Education and Child Care — Rachna Singh (new to cabinet)

Minister of state for child care — Grace Lore (new to cabinet)

Emergency Management and Climate Readiness — Bowinn Ma

Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation — Josie Osborne

Environment and Climate Change Strategy — George Heyman (unchanged)

Finance (includes Columbia River Treaty) — Katrine Conroy

Forests and minister responsible for consular corps. — Bruce Ralston

Health and minister responsible for Francophone affairs — Adrian Dix (unchanged)

Housing and government house leader — Ravi Kahlon

Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation — Murray Rankin

Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation — Brenda Bailey (new to cabinet)

Minister of state for trade — Jagrup Brar (new to cabinet)

Labour — Harry Bains (unchanged)

Mental Health and Addictions — Jennifer Whiteside

Municipal Affairs — Anne Kang

Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills (includes immigration/foreign credentials) — Selina Robinson

Minister of state for workforce development — Andrew Mercier (new to cabinet)

Public Safety and Solicitor General (ICBC) — Mike Farnworth (unchanged)

Social Development and Poverty Reduction — Sheila Malcolmson

Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport — Lana Popham

Transportation and Infrastructure (BC Transit and Translink) — Rob Fleming (unchanged)

Minister of state for infrastructure and transit — Dan Coulter (new to cabinet)

Water, Land and Resource Stewardship — Nathan Cullen

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022

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Tick-borne germs increasingly widespread in Canada: study

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Researchers from Quebec and Ontario are calling for better testing to track the spread of tick-borne germs as disease-causing bacteria gain new ground in Canada.

Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids that can carry pathogens – bacteria, viruses and parasites – like those that cause Lyme disease. Now, McGill University PhD candidate Kirsten Crandall says pathogens that are local to other regions are beginning to show up across central Canada.

“While the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne pathogen in Canada, other tick-borne pathogens are moving in,” she said in a media release published on Nov. 17.

In a study published in the medical journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases on Nov. 9, Crandall and her co-authors from McGill and the University of Ottawa warned that two pathogens, Babesia odocoilei and Rickettsia rickettsii, had been detected in Canada outside of their historic geographic range.

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Babesia odocoilei causes a malaria-like parasitic disease called babesiosis. Babesiosis can be asymptomatic or it can cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue.

Rickettsia rickettsii causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and anaplasmosis, and is normally found in the United States, Western Canada, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.

Both bacteria can infect animals and humans, and both were found in ticks and small mammals in Quebec. According to the study, climate change, habitat fragmentation and changes in the abundance of tick populations and their hosts are all driving the spread of emerging tick-borne pathogens like these across Canada.

“The presence of these pathogens changes the risk of disease for Canadians and animals in some densely populated areas of Canada,” Crandall said.

Crandall and her team made the detections using methods that went beyond those normally used in tick monitoring studies. By testing ticks at all life cycle stages, they discovered that female ticks can actually pass pathogens to their larval young. They also tested for pathogens not already listed as nationally notifiable diseases in Canada.

She said the findings demonstrate the need for better testing and tracking to detect the spread and potential risk of tick-borne pathogens to humans and animals throughout the country.

“Only two tick-borne pathogens are listed as nationally notifiable diseases in Canada: Lyme disease and tularemia,” she said. “However, we are seeing increased cases of diseases like anaplasmosis and babesiosis in humans in Canada.”

Jeremy Kerr, a professor and research chair at the University of Ottawa’s department of biology, said the study highlights the importance of funding more research into tick-borne diseases that haven’t historically been common in Canada.

“If we don’t know that pathogens are present, we can’t equip Canadians with the information they need to protect themselves,” he said in a statement released on Nov. 17. “COVID has diverted public health resources away from challenges like this one, and we need to remember that these tick-borne diseases are on the move too.”

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