U.S. should have warned Canada of plan to kill Iranian general, say government sources – CBC.ca
Canada should have been warned in advance by the Americans of U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to kill a high-ranking Iranian military general with a drone strike, say two senior government sources.
Ottawa also wants a more thorough explanation from the Trump administration of the thinking behind the attack, according to federal government sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
CBC News spoke with the sources on the condition of anonymity, as the individuals are not authorized to speak publicly.
It’s not clear exactly what the Trudeau government saw as unsatisfactory in Washington’s stated rationale for killing a senior military official in a foreign country.
One source said that it’s hard to work as part of a military coalition, like the one pursuing the remnants of ISIS in Iraq, without solid cooperation among members — and with the most powerful partner in that coalition pursuing a path its allies don’t fully grasp.
Searching for an explanation
Asked today by host Chris Hall of CBC Radio’s The House whether Canada had received any advance notice of the plan to kill Soleimani, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said he could not “go into the specifics of operations or intelligence.”
Champagne said that, “following the death of Gen. Soleimani, we had — and I think that’s what Canadians would expect from us — put our force (in Iraq) under what we call force protection … So despite the missiles that were fired by Iran, all the Canadians and coalition troops and Iraqis were safe.”
Trump administration officials have claimed Soleimani was actively planning attacks against Americans. President Trump himself claimed the infamous Iranian military leader was scheming to “blow up” an American embassy, but offered no evidence to back that up.
Members of the U.S. Congress on both sides of the aisle have complained bitterly about the lack of information about the attack coming from the administration.
Canada has about 500 troops in Iraq; some have been moved to Kuwait in recent weeks in response to the ongoing volatility on the ground. About half of those Canadians are with the NATO training mission, while the others — including up to 250 special forces members — are involved in the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.
The recent tensions in the region flared up on Dec. 27, when an Iranian-backed militia group killed an American contractor in Iraq.
Those tensions escalated to the brink of open warfare one week ago, when the U.S. retaliated by launching a drone strike that killed Iran’s top military general, Qassem Soleimani. He is said to be responsible for at least 600 American deaths.
In response to Soleimani’s killing, Iran launched 16 ballistic missiles early Wednesday at two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. military personnel. Some Canadian military personnel were also present at one of the bases at the time of the attack.
In the immediate aftermath of Soleimani’s death, Canada recognized the significance of the Americans’ action and security officials immediately began gathering information to brief Prime Minister Trudeau, the first source said. The PM was on vacation in Costa Rica at the time.
The first source said officials at the highest levels of the Canadian government feared that the act of killing Soleimani threatened to trigger dire consequences in the region.
That source stressed, however, that the event won’t fundamentally change the Canada-U.S. relationship. Canada remains fully committed to the principles of the NATO mission in Iraq and continues to share the overall security objectives of the U.S., the source said.
The stakes for Canada in the standoff in the Middle East ramped up Thursday when Trudeau announced that Canada has evidence indicating that Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down by Iran, possibly by accident.
The passenger jet crashed outside Tehran early Wednesday morning local time, hours after the Iranian missile attack, killing all 176 people on board — 57 of whom, the government now says, were Canadians.
The first source said that, at this stage in the investigation, Canada is not focusing on who’s to blame for the crash. Trudeau was asked multiple times during Thursday’s press conference whether he thinks the U.S. is partially responsible for the crash, given the sequence of events.
“I think it is too soon to be drawing conclusions or assigning blame or responsibility in whatever proportions,” Trudeau told reporters gathered at Ottawa’s National Press Theatre.
“Right now, our focus is on supporting the families that are grieving right across the country and providing what answers we can in a preliminary way, but recognizing that there is going to need to be a full and credible investigation into what exactly happened before we draw any conclusions.”
Due to the time difference with Iran, top government officials in Ottawa first learned of the crash late Tuesday night as they were wrapping up a top secret briefing on the Iran crisis.
The first source said some officials had gathered together in an office, while others joined the confidential meeting by a secure telephone line. As the meeting was coming to a close, David Morrison, the foreign and defence policy adviser to the prime minister, was told a plane had just gone down in Tehran.
Canadian authorities were ordered to gather information throughout the night. The source said it was clear from the start that there would have been Canadians on that flight.
The source added that Canada did not have credible information about the probable cause of the crash until late Wednesday, after Canadian officials had spent much of the preceding 24 hours gathering information.
Top officials, including Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and senior bureaucrats, gathered to discuss all of the available intelligence Thursday morning, the source said.
They came to the conclusion that the most probable cause of the crash was an Iranian missile strike, then briefed Trudeau and some members of his cabinet. Shortly afterward, Trudeau held his second press briefing in two days.
CBC News reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office but received no comment on the record by publication time.
Air Canada issues: Passengers to be compensated – CTV News
Air Canada says it made a mistake in rejecting some compensation claims from the thousands of travellers affected by delayed flights due to computer malfunctions.
In messages to some customers, the airline initially said the information technology fumble was out of its hands, relieving it of obligations to pay them compensation.
“In this instance, the compensation you are requesting does not apply because the disruption was caused by an event outside of our control. This flight is delayed due to an unforeseen technology issue, impacting one of our suppliers, which is impacting our operations,” the airline said Thursday in an email to passenger Douglas Judson.
Judson said he arrived more than three hours late after his June 1 flight from Winnipeg to Toronto was delayed due to the IT defect.
“I find the dishonesty and disrespect of it the most galling,” he said in a phone interview. “Some really interesting logic puzzles at Air Canada as to when something is actually their fault.”
While denying his compensation request, Air Canada offered him a 15 per cent fare discount on any upcoming flight as a “goodwill gesture.”
When contacted by The Canadian Press on Friday, the Montreal-based airline said the response stemmed from an error.
“Air Canada is offering compensation in line with APPR (Air Passenger Protection Regulations) compensation levels for flights which were affected by the IT outage. Some passengers had received erroneous responses from us, and we are in the process of re-contacting them with the correct responses,” spokeswoman Angela Mah stated.
The country’s largest carrier has struggled with intermittent computer problems over the past few weeks.
On May 25 it delayed more than half its flights due to a “technical issue” with the system that the airline uses to communicate with aircraft and monitor their performance. On June 1 it delayed or cancelled more than 500 flights — over three-quarters of its trips that day, according to tracking service FlightAware — due to “IT issues.”
That same day, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra stressed the carrier’s compensation responsibilities to its guests.
“Air Canada has obligations to passengers who are impacted because it is caused by things that the airline has control over,” he told reporters June 1, hours after the IT issues resurfaced.
Alghabra spokeswoman Nadine Ramadan said in an email Friday the minister’s office had been in touch with the company, which assured them it will compensate the affected passengers.
Gabor Lukacs, president of the Air Passenger Rights advocacy group, said the airline’s response “rings hollow.”
“We are hearing about too many of these ‘errors’ to believe that it was a genuine error,” he said in an email.
Lukacs suggested Air Canada’s response — including the discounted fare offer — marked “an attempt to make passengers go away and not pursue their rights.”
It was not clear whether the thousands of passengers whose flights were delayed or cancelled the day after the June 1 computer problem — Judson’s included — due to what the airline deemed “rollover effects” would receive compensation.
“They said in their official communications to passengers that it was maintenance. I do not believe it was maintenance. I think it was a direct consequence of their IP issues,” Judson said, noting that his return flight to Winnipeg landed more than three hours behind schedule.
Air Canada’s Mah said the airline would “investigate to determine the root cause of the cancellation and handle accordingly.”
At least 144 of its flights, or 27 per cent of the airline’s scheduled load, had been delayed as of late afternoon on June 2, along with 33 cancellations, according FlightAware.
In April, Alghabra laid out measures to toughen penalties and tighten loopholes around traveller compensation as part of a proposed overhaul of Canada’s passenger rights charter.
If passed as part of the budget bill, the reforms will put the onus on airlines to show a flight disruption is caused by safety concerns or reasons outside their control, with specific examples to be drawn up by the Canadian Transportation Agency as a list of exceptions around compensation.
“It will no longer be the passenger who will have to prove that he or she is entitled to compensation. It will now be the airline that will need to prove that it does not have to pay for it,” Alghabra said on April 24.
Currently, a passenger is entitled to between $125 and $1,000 in compensation for a three-hour-plus delay or a cancellation made within 14 days of the scheduled departure — unless the disruption stems from events outside the airline’s control, such as weather or a safety issue including mechanical problems. The amount varies depending on the size of the carrier and length of the delay.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.
What started Canada’s wildfires and are they under control?
Canada is seeing its worst-ever start to wildfire season, with blazes ravaging much of the country and creating hazardous smoky conditions across the continent and beyond.
After reaching New York earlier this week, on Thursday it blanketed Washington, DC, in an unhealthy haze, prompting many residents to stay indoors.
Here is what we know about the wildfires, their trajectory and climate change.
What started the Canadian wildfires?
Atlantic Canada received low snowfall this winter, followed by an exceptionally dry spring.
Nova Scotia’s capital Halifax received just 120mm of rain between March and May, roughly a third of the average, according to The Weather Network meteorologist Michael Carter.
A scorching late May heatwave pushed temperatures in Halifax to 33C (91.4 F) on Thursday, about 10 degrees Celsius above normal for this time of year.
The wildfires are believed to have been caused either by lightning, as in the case of Quebec, or accidentally by human activity.
Ellen Whitman, a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, said there is also speculation that trees felled during Hurricane Fiona, which hit Atlantic Canada in September 2022, or killed by an infestation of forest pests may be providing more fuel than usual for wildfires, but that theory requires further investigation.
While the focus has been on the smoke in eastern North America, fires continue to rage in western Canada.
This view from yesterday in British Columbia. pic.twitter.com/3jUXxYPpwu
— CIRA (@CIRA_CSU) June 8, 2023
Are the wildfires under control?
As of early Friday, there were 427 active wildfires, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center; of those, 232 were out of control.
In the West Coast province of British Columbia, authorities reported 81 active wildfires – 28 out of control – while in the province of Alberta, authorities reported 72 active wildfires.
Quebec, on the country’s eastern side, has 128 active fires.
The fires have spread across about 4.3 million hectares (10.6 million acres), roughly 15 times the annual average of the past decade.
Where are the Canadian wildfires?
The forest fires started in late April in British Columbia and Alberta, displacing more than 30,000 people at their peak, and shutting down oil and gas production.
They have now opened new fronts, spreading to the eastern provinces of Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario.
Currently, Canada is receiving international help to battle the wildfires. Help has come from the United States, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In Europe, France, Portugal and Spain were also sending more than 280 firefighters to Canada.
How are the fires affecting air quality?
On Thursday, authorities in Washington, DC, issued a “Code Purple” air quality alert, warning of “very unhealthy air conditions for the entire public, not just those with respiratory illnesses”.
New York again had the worst air quality on Thursday morning, with an unhealthy Air Quality Index reading of 185, according to a website operated by IQAir.
Readings over 100 are classified as “unhealthy”, and those exceeding 300 are “hazardous”.
On Wednesday, authorities in Canada said Ottawa’s air quality was among the worst.
Experts have noted that acrid clouds of smoke and ash could continue to affect daily life for people in the US and Canada for the next several days.
Why is the smoke reaching so far away?
Strong winds high in the atmosphere can transport smoke long distances, and it is common for large, violent fires to create unhealthy conditions hundreds of kilometres away from where forests are burning.
In Canada, air is circulating counterclockwise around a low-pressure system near Nova Scotia. That sends air south over the fires in Quebec. There the air picks up smoke, and then turns east over New York state, carrying smoke to the eastern seaboard.
The smoke has now also been detected thousands of kilometres away in Norway, the Scandinavian country’s Climate and Environmental Research Institute NILU said on Friday.
“Very weak” concentrations of smoke particles have been detected since Monday, in particular at the Birkenes Observatory in southern Norway, researcher Nikolaos Evangeliou told AFP news agency.
What is the outlook?
Warm, dry conditions are forecast to persist for months across Canada though occasional rains and cooler temperatures are expected to bring short-term relief.
The Weather Network’s longer-term forecast expects Nova Scotia temperatures to be slightly warmer than normal for the rest of the summer.
What role is climate change playing?
Whitman of the Canadian Forest Service, said it is difficult to determine the effect of climate change on a single fire season. Atlantic Canada has been much hotter than usual and scientists expect temperatures in the region to continue to rise in the coming years.
For coastal regions, climate change is expected to bring more rain, which should reduce the risk of wildfires, but a warmer atmosphere is more efficient at pulling moisture out of soils, a factor that increases fire risk.
Widespread spring fires across the whole of Canada are also unusual, and research shows fire seasons across North America are getting longer.
A warming planet will produce hotter and longer heatwaves, making for bigger, smokier fires, according to Joel Thornton, professor and chair of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.
I have never seen a vertical wall of smoke like this one near Fox Creek, Alberta on Sunday.
And the strangest thing about this moment was I couldn’t smell any smoke. #ABfire #ABfires pic.twitter.com/I6vmJvUay4
— Kyle Brittain (@KyleBrittainWX) May 17, 2023
1 arrested after stabbing at Olive Garden restaurant in Winnipeg
Police officers went to the Olive Garden at the corner of Reenders Drive and Lagimodiere Boulevard in the Transcona neighbourhood to investigate a stabbing around 7 p.m. Thursday night.
A person has been arrested after a stabbing at an Olive Garden restaurant in Winnipeg Thursday night.
Police officers went to the Olive Garden at the corner of Reenders Drive and Lagimodiere Boulevard in the Transcona neighbourhood around 7 p.m.
One person was arrested but police would not provide any additional information.
They provided no information about injuries.
More details are expected to be released later in the day, police said.
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