Canada has asked the United States not to sign any final trade agreement with China until two Canadians detained in China have been released, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a French-language TV network.
It has been more than a year since Beijing detained Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a top Chinese tech executive, Meng Wanzhou.
She was arrested last December at the request of U.S. authorities who want her on fraud charges. Just days later, Spavor and Kovrig were detained.
The two men were later charged with national security offences in what is widely believed to be an attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng, whose father is the founder of tech giant Huawei.
In an interview with TVA’s Salut Bonjour program aired Thursday, Trudeau outlined how Canada has asked the Trump administration to use ongoing trade talks with China as leverage in securing the release of the two Canadians.
“We’ve said that the United States should not sign a final and complete agreement with China that does not settle the question of Meng Wanzhou and the two Canadians,” Trudeau said in translated remarks.
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Earlier this month, China’s foreign ministry said the Kovrig and Spavor cases had been transferred to prosecutors for review and prosecution.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Canadian Press this week, Trudeau said he regretted that Kovrig and Spavor have been caught up in the diplomatic row, but didn’t regret that Canada lived up to its extradition treaty with the United States.
Over the past year, the case has impacted Canada-China relations at virtually every level, said Trudeau.
“This is an issue that we take very seriously, that is a priority and is at the top of Canada’s relations with China, whether we’re engaging at the diplomatic level or at the trade level or at the leaders’ level,” he said Wednesday.
Global Affairs Canada said Thursday that Canadian consular officials visited Spavor on Monday and Kovrig on Tuesday, but did not disclose what was said in their meetings, citing privacy laws.
A number of countries and legislative bodies, including the United States, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the G7 and NATO have spoken out in support of the detained Canadians, calling for their release and in support of the rule of law.
© 2019 The Canadian Press
U.N. seeks record $41 billion for aid to hotspots led by Afghanistan, Ethiopia
The United Nations appealed on Thursday for a record $41 billion to provide life-saving assistance next year to 183 million people worldwide caught up in conflict and poverty, led by a tripling of its programme in Afghanistan.
Famine remains a “terrifying prospect” for 45 million people living in 43 countries, as extreme weather caused by climate change shrinks food supplies, the U.N. said in the annual appeal, which reflected a 17% rise in annual funding needs.
“The drivers of needs are ones which are familiar to all of us. Tragically, it includes protracted conflicts, political instability, failing economies … the climate crisis, not a new crisis, but one which urges more attention and of course the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths told reporters.
In a report to donors, the world body said: “Without sustained and immediate action, 2022 could be catastrophic.”
Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and Sudan are the five major crises requiring the most funding, topped by $4.5 billion sought for Taliban-ruled Afghanistan where “needs are skyrocketing”, it said.
In Afghanistan, more than 24 million people require life-saving assistance, a dramatic increase driven by political tumult, repeated economic shocks, and severe food insecurity caused by the worst drought in 27 years.
“We are in the business in the U.N. of trying to urgently establish with support from the World Bank as well as the U.N. system, a currency swap initiative which will allow liquidity to go into the economy,” Griffiths said.
“The absence of cash in Afghanistan is a major impediment to any delivery of services,” he said. “I am hoping that we get it up and running before the end of this month.”
In Ethiopia, where a year-old conflict between government and Tigrayan forces has spread into the Amhara and Afar regions, thousands have been displaced, while fighting, drought and locusts push more to the brink, the U.N. said.
Nearly 26 million Ethiopians require aid, including more than 9 million who depend on food rations, including 5 million in Tigray, amid rising malnutrition rates, it said.
“Ethiopia is the most alarming probably almost certainly in terms of immediate emergency need,” Griffiths said, adding that 400,000 people had been deemed at risk of famine already in May.
Noting that heavy fighting continued, with government forces battling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front forces who have moved closer to the capital Addis Ababa, he added: “But capacity to respond to an imploded Ethiopia is almost impossible to imagine.”
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Richard Pullin)
Doug Ford applauds new COVID-19 travel restrictions, says more discussions with feds to be held – Globalnews.ca
Ontario Premier Doug Ford thanked the federal government for implementing new travel restrictions in a bid to stop the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant and said more discussions will be held about possibly expanding new testing rules to travellers from the United States.
Ford made the remarks at an unrelated press conference in Mississauga Wednesday morning.
Several Omicron variant cases have already been confirmed in Ontario, and Ford said while it is a “cause for concern” it is “not cause for panic.”
“Every day we hold off more cases entering our country, the more time we have to learn and prepare,” Ford said.
“So the best thing we can do right now is fortify our borders. Our best defence is keeping the variant out of our country. We welcome the actions from the federal government and I want to thank the feds for taking action to date.
“We implored them last week to act quickly and be decisive on the borders and they did.”
In a statement last Friday, Ford called on the federal government to enact travel bans on “countries of concern” and the feds followed through just hours later.
On Tuesday, they expanded that ban to three additional countries.
Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said foreign nationals from Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt who have been to those countries over the past two weeks will not be able to enter Canada. This added to the seven other African countries barred by Canada on Friday: South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.
Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria added to Canada‘s travel ban amid more restrictions
Canadians and permanent residents, as well as all those who have the right to return to Canada, who have transited through these countries over the past two weeks, will have to quarantine, be tested at the airport, and await their test results before exiting quarantine, Duclos said.
It was also announced that all air travellers entering Canada — excluding those coming from the United States — would have to get tested when they arrive and isolate until they receive a negative result. That measure applies to all travellers, regardless of vaccination status.
Duclos said Wednesday that it will take time to implement the new measure.
In his statement last week, Ford also called for point-of-arrival testing to be put in place.
He also said he advised the province’s chief medical officer and Public Health Ontario to “immediately implement expanded surveillance” and update planning to “ensure we are ready for any outcome.”
The Omicron variant has now been detected in many countries around the world, including, as of Wednesday, the United States.
Ford was asked if he would support expanding the new testing rules to those arriving from the States.
“I would always support anything that can be cautious to prevent this variant coming into our country. So, again we’ll have a discussion with the federal government. That’s their jurisdiction, it’s not ours,” Ford said.
“They work collaboratively with all the provinces and territories and I’m always for going the cautious route as I think people have seen over the last 20 months.”
The premier added that “it doesn’t take much to get a test at the airport.”
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Wednesday that it’s too early to say whether Canada’s latest requirement to test arriving air travellers will be extended to include those coming from the United States.
“We need to be prepared and ready if we need to adjust that decision to include travellers from the U.S. We haven’t made that decision yet,” he said.
When asked what provincial measures are being considered in response to the Omicron variant, Ford said they will make sure there is expanded testing capacity and contact tracing.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said there is still much that isn’t known about the variant, including how effective vaccines are against it.
She said the province is “continuing with all of our precautions” and said it’s important to keep border restrictions in place until more is known about the variant.
Elliott also said more information will be released in the coming days “with respect to age categories” on booster shots.
— With files from Saba Aziz and The Canadian Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Omicron ‘blaming’ shows persistence of racism in healthcare -advocate
The persistence of racism is evident once again with the “blaming and shaming” of African nations for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, health advocate Dr. Joia Crear-Perry said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a Reuters Next panel on racial disparities in Black maternal healthcare, Crear-Perry said the medical profession in the United States needed to stop resorting to racist tropes and start truth-telling.
“Even if you look at the latest blaming and shaming that’s happening around the latest Omicron variant you see the same history, the same racist trope of blaming certain places, assuming white nations and nations that have majority-white populations are going to need to be protected from places who are not,” she said.
“That’s the same legacy and history that shows up in health and same legacy and history that we have to have truth-telling around in order for us to stop that behavior of blaming and shaming and harming people.”
More than 50 countries have reportedly implemented travel measures to guard against Omicron, many of them banning travelers from southern African countries.
In guidance issued this week as reports of the Omicron variant spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) said: “Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”
To watch the Reuters Next conference please register here https://reutersevents.com/events/next/
(Reporting by Donna Bryson in Denver; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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