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U.S.-Canada border crossing blocked by truckers fighting COVID restrictions

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The busiest land crossing from the United States to Canada remained shut on Tuesday after Canadian truckers blocked lanes on Monday to protest their government’s pandemic control measures.

While traffic in both directions was initially blocked, U.S.-bound lanes have since reopened, Windsor Police tweeted.

Drivers demanding an end to federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border traffic began blocking the streets of Canada’s capital, Ottawa, on Jan. 28. Since Sunday night, police have started slowly taking back control, seizing thousands of liters of fuel and removing an oil tanker truck.

Ottawa Deputy Police Chief Steve Bell told reporters on Tuesday that police have immobilized many of the heavy vehicles taking part in the blockade. He said about a quarter of the 418 protest trucks in the downtown have children in them, and police are concerned for their welfare in relation to cold, noise, carbon monoxide risks and access to sanitation.

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters that he had been in touch with the mayor of Windsor and local legislators about the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, connecting Detroit, Michigan, with Windsor, Ontario.

“We will continue to work…so that we can keep the supply chains moving across the Ambassador Bridge, as well as the wheels of our economy turning,” he said.

Canada sends 75% of its exports to the United States, and the bridge usually handles around 8,000 trucks a day.

The owner of the bridge, the Detroit International Bridge Co, said international commerce on the bridge needed to resume.

“We encourage the appropriate officials to take prompt action to alleviate the situation as quickly as possible in a manner that reflects mutual respect,” the company’s chairman, Matt Moroun, said in a statement

REOPENING PLANS

The president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association called for an immediate end to the blockade, saying “persistent delays at the Ambassador Bridge risk disrupting automotive production that employs tens of thousands of Canadians.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared in public on Monday for the first time in more than a week after being infected with COVID-19, saying the protest had to stop.

Trudeau was due to return to parliament on Tuesday to face opposition legislators demanding he do more to end what one aide called a “national humiliation.”

He has denounced the demonstrators’ tactics.

“Individuals are trying to blockade our economy, our democracy, and our fellow citizens’ daily lives,” he told an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday night. “It has to stop.”

But one of his Liberal Party colleagues has broken rank on the government’s hardline stance on vaccine mandates. Joel Lightbound called on the government to move away from divisive politics and present a clear roadmap for lifting of pandemic restrictions.

Meanwhile some provinces are beginning to lift the strict COVID-19 restrictions.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault on Tuesday announced a gradual reopening of the province’s offices, businesses, bars and social activities through March 14, while lifting restrictions on the number of visitors allowed in private homes.

Legault said a recent protest by truckers in Quebec City did not influence his plans, but acknowledged that some people in the French-language province were fed up with the restrictions.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the requirement to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for businesses, workplaces and other public venues will end on Feb. 14.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Ismail Shakil; Additional reporting by Anna Mehler-Paperny in Ottawa, Allison Lampert in Montreal and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Denny ThomasEditing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)

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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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