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Two new Arctic and offshore patrol ships named in honour of Canadian naval heroes

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HALIFAX — Two of Canada’s new Arctic and offshore patrol ships were formally named on Sunday in a move intended to preserve the stories of two of the country’s naval heroes during the Second World War.

Bottles of Nova Scotian wine were broken over the bows of the HMCS Margaret Brooke and HMCS Max Bernays during a ceremony on the Halifax waterfront, acknowledging their construction at the Halifax Shipyard.

“These have been built by Nova Scotians for Canadians,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston told the crowd.

The ritual of naming a ship dates back centuries and is believed to bring good luck and safe travel to the vessel and its crew.

Both ships are part of a fleet of six Arctic and offshore patrol ships, referred to as AOPS, being delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. The ice-capable ships are more than 100 metres long.

Kevin Mooney, president of Halifax Shipbuilding, said despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and global supply chain problems, crews at the Irving-owned yard have both persevered and improved.

“We delivered Margaret Brooke last July with 37 per cent fewer production hours than the first AOPS, Harry DeWolf,” he said. “We will deliver a new AOPS each year to the Canadian Navy until 2025, and then two more to the Coast Guard in the following years.”

Filomena Tassi, federal minister of Public Services and Procurement, said she was impressed by her tour of the shipyard.

“I’m in awe when I come down and stand before these ships and think that they are made by Canadian hands. The innovation, the dedication, the commitment to deliver this. It is truly awesome,” she said.

Margaret Brooke enrolled as a nursing sister dietician in 1942 and rose to the rank of lieutenant-commander during her 20-year naval career.

In October 1942 off the coast of Newfoundland, the ferry SS Caribou was sunk by a German submarine, and while fighting for her own survival, Brooke did everything possible to save the life of a colleague and friend.

Both women clung to ropes on a capsized lifeboat.

Despite Brooke’s heroic efforts, her friend succumbed to the frigid water.

Lt.-Cmdr Brooke was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Max Bernays was an acting chief petty officer in August 1942 and was the coxswain aboard HMCS Assiniboine.

During a fierce battle with a German submarine, the Assiniboine maneuvered in and out of fog attempting to ram and sink the enemy vessel.

Both vessels were firing high explosive shells at close range, resulting in a fire that engulfed the ship’s bridge and wheelhouse.

Bernays ordered two junior sailors to get clear, leaving him alone at the helm and trapped by the blaze.

Despite machine-gun and cannon fire, smoke and flames, Bernays executed the helm orders and dispatched over 130 telegraph orders to the engine room.

Bernays was able to ram the submarine and sink it.

He was awarded the distinguished Conspicuous Gallantry Medal by the British Admiralty, making him just one of two members of the Royal Canadian Navy to receive the honour during the Second World War.

The HMCS Margaret Brooke was delivered to the navy last summer, while the HMCS Max Bernays will be delivered this fall.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2022.

— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.

 

The Canadian Press

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Immigration Minister: Applicants can soon expect normal service standards – Canada Immigration News

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Published on June 25th, 2022 at 08:00am EDT
Updated on June 25th, 2022 at 08:29am EDT

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Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser believes meaningful steps are being taken to get the immigration system back on track.

Fraser acknowledged ongoing application processing and client experience challenges when he sat down with CIC News for an exclusive interview in Toronto earlier this week.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Minister expects things to return to normal by the end of 2022

“The COVID-19 pandemic hampered our immigration system in two main ways. It shut down a lot of our offices around the world…we lost a lot of our horsepower as a department.”

The second way, he explained, was Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) needed to pivot to transitioning those in Canada to permanent residence since travel restrictions limited the ability of those abroad to enter the country. This was happening as new applications continued to flow in, leading to an accumulation of inventory. Then in August 2021, Canada made the commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees following the Taliban reclaiming power of Afghanistan and since February 2022, Canada has been looking to assist those impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The good news is I see light at the end of the tunnel…we’re on track right now to restore our pre-pandemic service standard by the end of this calendar year for virtually every line of business.”

Minister Fraser added the caveat that the service standard for Canadian citizenship applications may continue to lag a bit due to the inventory growing significantly at the start of the pandemic when in-person citizenship ceremonies were not an option.

Fraser: Three solutions to improve client experience and address backlogs

The minister believes the three solutions to improve the immigration system are “resources, policy, and tech.”

“On the resources side, we’ve added 500 more staff.” He also pointed out the additional $85 million and another $385 million allocated in recent federal budget announcements that will go towards improving application processing.

Meanwhile, Fraser believes Canada will need even higher levels of immigration to meet growing demand to gain Canadian permanent residence.

“The number one policy is our Immigration Levels Plan. We’re not going to chip away at the number of cases in the inventory if we don’t expand the numbers.”

In February, Fraser announced Canada would welcome over 430,000 immigrants annually beginning this year, by far the highest levels in Canadian history. He is set to announce the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 by November 1st of this year, which may result in another increase in Canada’s targets.

With respect to the third solution, technology, the minister said that “digital platform modernization is going to greatly increase the reliability and pace of our system.”

“These measures are starting to have an impact…a couple of weeks ago we passed 200,000 permanent residents landed in Canada.” The minister noted this has broken the previous record by 1.5 months.

Work permits have almost 250% increased compared to last year.”

IRCC’s backlog has surged to 2.4 million persons during the pandemic and the department has struggled to achieve its own targets on the length of time it aims to process applications. Since the start of this year, it has made major announcements and changes as it seeks to reduce the backlog, processing times, and give its clients more certainty. In late January, minister Fraser held a press conference summarizing IRCC’s processing goals including the steps it was taking to increase staff capacity and modernize its processes and technology.

One of the benefits has been the reduction in the Express Entry backlog. The minister told CIC News that all-program Express Entry draws are tentatively set to resume on July 6. In addition, IRCC aims to get back to its pre-pandemic service standard of processing Express Entry applications within six months beginning in July.

Another benefit is that IRCC has introduced and is in the process of introducing more case trackers to allow applicants to review the status of their files. The minister says 17 lines of business will have case trackers by the end of this summer allowing applicants to digitally monitor their status.

While challenges remain, the minister expressed great optimism to CIC News.

“My sense is by the end of this calendar year, new applications coming in will have the kind of certainty that we’ll be able to meet our service standard and people will be dealing with 60 days or 6 months or 12 months, not an undetermined period of time.”

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Special interview series with Minister Fraser

CIC News sat down with the minister on June 21, 2022 to discuss the future of Canadian immigration.

Over the coming weeks, CIC News is releasing a special series of articles elaborating on the interview with Minister Fraser on topics including:

Minister Fraser was in Toronto to speak at Collision, one of the world’s largest technology conferences.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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Rwanda to Germany: Canada to elevate small Commonwealth nations’ concerns at the G7

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KIGALI, Rwanda — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Canada will be bringing the concerns of smaller Commonwealth nations to the G7 leaders in Germany Sunday, particularly the growing threat of famine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Joly arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been dominated by the concerns of nations that are suffering from food scarcity.

She said Canada is in “listening mode” at the Commonwealth, where leaders of smaller nations are able to speak without the dominating presence of the United States, Russia and China.

Canadian officials have been trying to reinforce that the cause of the shortage is Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“What is clear to us is that Russia is weaponizing food and putting a toll on many countries around the world, and putting 50 million lives at risk,” Joly told reporters Friday evening in Rwanda.

She said Russia has been targeting Ukrainian ports and grain silos and systematically preventing grain from reaching countries that need it.

Trudeau had attempted to meet with the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for several days during the Commonwealth summit but the sit-down was repeatedly postponed and eventually cancelled.

Shortly after Trudeau arrived in Rwanda the government announced Canada would dedicate a new ambassador to the African Union, which has suffered from the food shortages inflicted on the continent as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met with representatives of the African Union, with Russia blaming Russian sanctions for stopping up the flow of grain.

Trudeau travels to the Bavarian Alps in Germany for the G7 Summit Saturday night, where the conflict with Ukraine will be top of mind.

Joly said she spoke to her G7 counterparts Friday, and expects famine and safe passage for Ukrainian refugees to be the top concern.

Some of the other voices the prime minister has promised to centre at his international meetings belong to youth leaders who spoke at a dialogue event Saturday, focused on issues facing young people around the world.

Some of the delegates spoke about the devastating effects of climate change, particularly around remote island nations where infrastructure cannot withstand natural disasters and rebuilding efforts take years. The onslaught takes a toll on education and health services, one delegate told the forum.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

 

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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RCMP reform would prevent political interference, criminologists say

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OTTAWA — An Ottawa criminologist says questions about whether political pressure was placed on the RCMP commissioner in the Nova Scotia shooting investigation illustrate why Brenda Lucki should not report to the public safety minister.

A parliamentary committee has called Lucki, former public safety minister Bill Blair, and several other RCMP witnesses to explain what happened during an April 28, 2020, phone call, during which Lucki allegedly said she had promised federal officials to release information about the type of weapons used in the shooting.

According to handwritten notes from Supt. Darren Campbell, who was in charge of the investigation into the shooting spree that left 22 people dead, Lucki said that was tied to upcoming Liberal gun control legislation.

Campbell chose not to release anything about the weapons, stating that may jeopardize the ongoing investigation.

To date, no one has been charged with weapons-related offences in the case, and it was revealed early on that the gunman obtained all the weapons illegally, smuggling most from the United States.

Lucki, the Prime Minister’s Office and Blair have all denied there was any political interference in the RCMP’s investigation.

Criminologist Darryl Davies said if the commissioner reported to Parliament, rather than the public safety minister, this wouldn’t be an issue.

“It makes crystal clear that the RCMP are an autonomous, independent organization and that decision-making will be taken without undue influence from politicians,” he said.

The RCMP Act states that the commissioner is appointed by the minister and “under the direction of the minister, has the control and management of the force and all matters connected with the force.”

Another criminologist disagrees that parliamentary accountability is the answer.

Rob Gordon, who teaches at Simon Fraser University, said what the force needs is proper non-political civilian oversight, but for that to be effective, he said a review of its mandate is needed first.

“It’s trying to be too many things to too many people,” he said, noting that federal police forces in the United States and United Kingdom, for example, are not also tasked with contract policing in rural and remote areas.

Reports have called for this type of structural reform over the years but no government has acted upon them, Gordon said.

“We have been, unfortunately, cursed with a Canadian icon and nobody wants to break it up,” he said.

Facing repeated opposition questions Thursday about whether he believed Campbell’s version of events in the April 28, 2020, meeting, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said, “I have never and will not criticize a serving member of the RCMP.”

Gordon called that statement “irresponsible and disappointing flim-flam” while Davies said it shows that governments continue to defend the RCMP rather than try to fix it.

“It’s an institution that has been in crisis and has been dysfunctional for many years,” he said.

Recent evidence at the public inquiry into the killings has focused on how the RCMP withheld information during and after the killings.

While Lucki and national headquarters were prepared to release a list of the victims’ names, the Nova Scotia RCMP didn’t release that information.

In its initial news conference, when reporters asked for the number of victims, Chief Supt. Chris Leather said it was “in excess of 10.” Documents released through the inquiry show that Leather knew there were at least 17 dead.

Hours later, Lucki gave two separate media interviews in which she said the death toll was 13, and then 17.

By 11 p.m. on April 19, 2020, the RCMP had concluded that up to 22 people had been killed, but it didn’t reveal the final number until two days later.

Davies said that shows the need for better policies, training and operational procedures, which “either don’t exist or fell apart.”

“We know that some of the officers on the ground who are responding to both media requests for information, and from families and so on, some of them had absolutely zero training in this area,” he said.

The inquiry will resume hearings Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

 

Sarah Ritchie, The Canadian Press

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