Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled plans to create a special team focused on countering Russian disinformation and propaganda on Tuesday, as Ukrainians prepared to mark the six-month anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of their country.
The prime minister announced the new initiative as part of a package of new Canadian measures designed to support Ukraine and punish Russia for launching a war that has killed tens of thousands and whose impacts are being felt around the world.
Canada is also imposing sanctions against 62 more people, including those the government described as several Russian regional governors and their families, as well as a Russian company whose products include anti-drone equipment.
Ottawa is also planning to spend nearly $4 million on two projects to bolster Ukraine’s military and police services, including training to help Ukrainian police officers better handle cases involving sexual trauma as well as mental-health programs.
Trudeau revealed the package during a special meeting of leaders from countries that have been supporting Ukraine since Russian forces first crossed into the country on Feb. 24, launching Europe’s largest conflict since the Second World War.
Notionally intended to discuss Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the meeting also came as Ukrainians prepared to mark on Wednesday the anniversary of their country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Appearing via videolink from Toronto alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is in the midst of a three-day visit to Canada, Trudeau accused Russia of falsely blaming western sanctions for escalating food prices and shortages around the world.
While Russian officials have blamed the sanctions imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine for the food crisis, Canada and its allies say Moscow is responsible for having disrupted critical Ukrainian food production and exports.
“I want to repeat yet again, that there are no sanctions on food. When the Russian regime blames sanctions for the food crisis around the world, they’re engaging in disinformation,” Trudeau said.
“We need to continue fighting Russian disinformation. That’s why Canada will create a dedicated team to help increase our capacity to monitor and detect Russian and other state-sponsored disinformation.”
The prime minister did not provide further details in his short address to the meeting, whose attendees included Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and his office referred questions to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s office.
Joly’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The government has previously enlisted different federal departments and agencies, including the Defence Department and Communications Security Establishment, to publicly call out what it considers Russian disinformation and propaganda.
Scholz echoed Trudeau’s assertion that Russia’s invasion “was responsible for worsening food security, with grave implications for people worldwide,” even as the German leader reiterated his country’s continued support to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, a sense of dread deepened Tuesday in Ukraine because of warnings that Russia may try to spoil the country’s Independence Day holiday and mark the war’s six-month point with intensified attacks.
The U.S. reinforced the worry with a security alert citing “information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days.”
Kyiv authorities have banned mass gatherings in the capital through Thursday for fear of missile attacks around Independence Day, and Zelenskyy over the weekend warned Russia “may try to do something particularly nasty, something particularly cruel.”
On Tuesday, however, Zelenskyy stressed defiance rather than worry when he raised the national flag at a memorial one day ahead of Independence Day.
“The blue and yellow flag of Ukraine will again fly where it rightfully should be – in all temporarily occupied cities and villages of Ukraine,” he said, including the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.
He added: “It is necessary to liberate Crimea from occupation. It will end where it had started.”
At a separate event, Zelenskyy appeared to downplay the threats, indicating that at most, he expected increased intensity rather than new targets, and he added, “No one wants to die, but no one is afraid of Russia, and this is the most important signal.”
Some additional details of what PM pledged for Ukraine:
-Among the individuals sanctioned are high-ranking Russian gov’t & defence officials
-$ for Cda-Ukraine Police Development Project & Min of Defence
-Disinfo team to help understand, monitor, detect state-sponsored disinfo
— Rachel Aiello (@rachaiello) August 23, 2022
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2022.
Online news bill could revive local papers in Canada, MPs told – The Globe and Mail
Ottawa’s online news bill – which would force tech giants Google GOOGL-Q and Facebook META-Q to pay for reusing articles produced by Canadian news organizations – would help revive the flagging local news industry, spokesmen for papers across the country told a committee of MPs on Friday.
They said local papers, which have been closing across Canada, hemorrhaging staff and losing advertising revenue, could see a huge cash injection from tech giants and begin hiring again, if the bill becomes law.
“A weakened press, threatened with abandoning its mission and disappearing after decades of existence, is seriously endangering our democracy,” said Benoit Chartier, chair of the board of Hebdos Quebec, which represents the province’s independent local press. Mr. Chartier publishes a number of local papers, including Le Courrier de Saint-Hyacinthe, one of the oldest French language newspapers in North America.
Paul Deegan, president and CEO of News Media Canada, which represents big and small news organizations, said there is now a “significant imbalance of power between tech giants and Canadian news outlets.”
He said the bill would enable small papers to join together to negotiate deals with Google and Facebook, which has been renamed Meta, for using their content.
Facebook, Google and Apple have already signed some partnerships with news organizations in Canada, including The Globe and Mail.
The architect of a similar law in Australia, which Canada’s Bill C-18 is based on, told MPs that there has been a $200-million (Australian) annual injection into Australia’s news industry, since the law was introduced.
Rod Sims, who was chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission when it implemented its news media bargaining code, said the law had prompted Google and Facebook to do deals with almost all news outlets in Australia, including small newspaper groups.
The law has also led the Guardian, a British news outlet, to expand its Australian operations and hire many more journalists, he said.
Mr. Sims, a professor at the Australian National University, said the code’s aim had been to address a massive imbalance in bargaining power between tech giants and media outlets that meant fair commercial deals could not be struck.
Like its Australian model, Canada’s bill would force the tech giants to do deals with news outlets and pay for posting news or links to articles, if they have not already done so voluntarily.
David Skok, founder & CEO of The Logic, an independent news outlet focusing on business and technology, said the bill is “a backstop forcing publishers and platforms to come to the table for fair, equitable, and transparent agreements that don’t privilege only those with negotiating power.”
But Prof. Michael Geist, an expert in internet law at the University of Ottawa’s law school, warned that the wording of Bill C-18 is flawed and likely to prompt legal challenges.
He said the bill contravenes several treaties, such as the Berne Convention, which aims to protect the rights of authors but allows the use of quotations, including those of newspaper articles.
“There is no question that this will be challenged on a number of different levels,” he told the Commons heritage committee.
Jen Gerson, an independent journalist and co-founder of the Line, an online newsletter, expressed fear that the bill would “backfire spectacularly.”
She said news publishers, rather than the platforms, benefit if Google or Facebook posts links to news articles. Ms. Gerson warned that Facebook and Google could respond to the law by “restricting access to mainstream news articles.”
Australia’s law led to a fierce backlash from the tech giants. Facebook protested by temporarily blocking news on its platform across Australia.
Google has written to each MP and senator saying there are multiple flaws in Bill C-18 as well as “misconceptions” about how an online-news law would work in practice.
The proposed law would prevent tech giants penalizing or giving preference to news organizations it has done deals with.
Google has said this could affect the way it ranks news on its search engine and moderates content. Currently the search engine elevates information from “trusted sources.”
Fiona smashes into Atlantic Canada, washing away homes and knocking out power – CBC.ca
Hundreds of thousands of customers in Eastern Canada are without power as post-tropical storm Fiona brings intense, hurricane-strength winds and torrential rains to swaths of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Quebec’s Magdalen Islands.
Part of the town of Port aux Basques, N.L., has been placed under an evacuation order after storm surge swept away multiple homes and structures to sea. It’s unclear if there are any casualties. The town has also declared a state of emergency.
Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia shortly after 4 a.m. AT between Canso and Guysborough.
The Canso Causeway, which links Cape Breton to mainland Nova Scotia, is closed to high-sided vehicles.
As of 10:45 a.m. AT, more than 405,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were without electricity. The company says it has more than 525,000 customers. It said people can go the utility’s outage map for estimated restoration times.
- CBC Radio is providing live updates on Hurricane Fiona around the clock. Listeners are invited to call in to share their storm experiences and any emergency updates from their communities at 1-800-565-5550. Listen online via CBC Lite, which uses less data, or over the air (90.5 FM in Halifax, 92.1 FM in Sydney, 96.1 FM in Charlottetown or check your local frequency here).
P.E.I.’s Maritime Electric said more than 82,000 out of a possible 86,000 customers were without power.
N.B. Power was reporting more than 55,000 outages, concentrated in the province’s southeast. The outages are mostly in areas the company groups as “Shediac Cap Pelé,” “Moncton Riverview Dieppe” and “Sackville Port Elgin.”
Conditions are like nothing we’ve ever seen. We are logging reports of downed trees and wires but will only be responding to emergency calls. -Dispatcher Kelly ☎️ <a href=”https://t.co/gX7YPTPDSN”>pic.twitter.com/gX7YPTPDSN</a>
Newfoundland Power was reporting 1,133 customers without power, and Hydro Quebec reported 4,232 without power in the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region and1,684 in the Magdalen Islands.
Hurricane or tropical storm warnings are in place throughout most of Atlantic Canada and southern Quebec.
State of emergency declared in Cape Breton
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality and neighbouring Victoria County have declared a local state of emergency and are asking residents to stay at home.
The Canadian Red Cross has opened a shelter at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S., however it was without power on Saturday morning. The municipality is planning to open additional comfort centres when local travel is safe.
North Sydney fire Chief Lloyd MacIntosh spoke with CBC News as he was transporting a woman from her home to a safe location after the roof blew off her house.
“We pulled up, well, literally half of the roof was gone,” MacIntosh said. “It’s been an adventurous night to say the least.”
MacIntosh said there’s been a lot of damage in North Sydney.
“Every intersection, every block of North Sydney is filled with trees. Trees have come down on homes, trees have come down on cars, there’s buildings that have collapsed and there’s quite a bit of damages,” he said.
“The daylight will bring quite a few surprises for a few people.”
Part of a steeple came down from St. Joseph Church in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, a building that’s more than 100 years old.
Cellular networks spotty
Cellular networks were spotty across Nova Scotia and P.E.I. Saturday. Many were unable to get a cell signal to make calls or access internet.
Bell Aliant acknowledged the outages in a tweet posted Saturday morning. The telecom company they were working with utility companies to restore full power to their cellular sites as soon as possible.
“Numerous wireline and cell sites in Atlantic are impacted by power outages across the provinces. As battery back up power will begin to deplete, our teams will be activating generators to keep sites up and running,” the company tweeted.
Rogers also tweeted they are aware of the outages and their local crews will work to get services up and running.
CBC News has contacted Bell Aliant and Rogers for an update on restoration times.
Tree fell on fire truck with crew inside
Erica Fleck, the assistant chief of Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, said a tree fell on a fire truck that had a crew inside. There were live wires.
She said the fire crew stayed in the truck as Nova Scotia Power technicians worked to get the crew out safely.
“The power lines are down everywhere,” she said. “It’s not safe to be on the roads.”
Fleck cautioned that response times will be longer because fire crews will have to remove downed trees that are in their way.
In a tweet, Environment and Climate Change Canada said the highest wind gust reported in Nova Scotia has been 179 km/h in Arisaig, north of Antigonish on Nova Scotia’s coast.
CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said wind gusts of 100 km/h were recorded in Moncton, N.B., shortly after 6 a.m.
Wind gusts of up to 100 km/h are expected in some areas of the province over the next 24 hours, with sustained winds clocking in at 65 km/h.
‘Like nothing we’ve ever seen’: Charlottetown police
In a tweet, Charlottetown police said they are logging reports of downed trees and wires but are only responding to emergency calls.
“Conditions are like nothing we’ve ever seen,” the force said in a post on Twitter.
CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said the storm approached Nova Scotia at 64 km/h but slowed significantly as it arrived in the province. This will be a long-duration event for P.E.I. and eastern Nova Scotia, he said.
By 9 a.m., the centre of the storm will be moving to the western side of Cape Breton and it will slowly depart Nova Scotia.
Winds will ease in mid-to-late morning for central Nova Scotia and late afternoon or evening for eastern Nova Scotia, he said.
Nova Scotia Power’s efforts to restore electricity are being hampered by strong winds.
“We’re still seeing significant wind gusts, specifically Cape Breton,” said Peter Gregg, company president and CEO. “Until those wind gusts come down, we won’t be able to get crews out there. But we’re making progress in Halifax.”
Environment Canada said Fiona will reach the Quebec Lower North Shore and southeastern Labrador by late Saturday night.
The agency said severe winds and rainfall, large waves and storm surges were all occurring.
Environment Canada said rainfall will be significant, particularly north and west of Fiona’s track, where it could lead to flooding. Some areas could see as much as 200 millimetres of rain. About 120 millimetres had already been reported in some weather stations in eastern Nova Scotia by 3 a.m.
Some waves along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore could build to be more than 10 metres, with waves along southern Newfoundland on Saturday morning reaching higher heights.
“Waves over eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Cabot Strait could be higher than 12 metres,” Environment Canada said.
While we wait for the NHC’s official call, it looks like <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Fiona?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Fiona</a> has recently made landfall between Canso and Guysborough. With an unofficial recorded pressure at Hart Island of 931.6 mb, this makes Fiona the lowest pressured land falling storm on record in Canada. <a href=”https://t.co/TYo9G05sUz”>pic.twitter.com/TYo9G05sUz</a>
It said the western Gulf will see waves from the north up to eight metres in some places, “which will probably cause significant erosion for north-facing beaches of Prince Edward Island.”
The forecaster said the Magdalen Islands will also see some coastal erosion from waves.
Coastal flooding is a big concern for Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Magdalen Islands, eastern New Brunswick and southwest Newfoundland.
“The highest risk for coastal flooding will be a combination of storm surge with large waves moving onshore,” Environment Canada said.
“This is is definitely going to be one of, if not the most powerful tropical cyclones to affect our part of the country,” said Ian Hubbard, meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, N.S. “It’s going to be definitely as severe and as bad as any I’ve seen.”
Canada has picked a new ambassador to China – CTV News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tapped Jennifer May to be Canada’s new ambassador to China, filling a nearly year-long vacancy in the key diplomatic post.
The government announced May’s appointment on Friday, after sources told CTV News and other outlets on Thursday that May—who speaks Mandarin— had been selected to take on the position and that China had signed off on Canada’s pick.
“I am deeply honoured to take up this important post on behalf of Canada and Canadians,” May tweeted on Friday.
In taking on this new role, she’ll become Canada’s lead on stickhandling a fraught relationship with China and will be responsible for advancing business and economic ties between the two countries, as well as “standing up for democratic values, human rights, and the rule of law,” according to the release from Trudeau’s office.
May, who until August was Canada’s ambassador to Brazil, joined Canada’s foreign affairs department more than 30 years ago. Over her career, May has held a series of positions, including executive director of defence and security relations, director of Eastern Europe and Eurasia relations, and has she served in Bonn, Hong Kong, Beijing, Vienna, Bangkok and Berlin.
“A dedicated public servant, Ms. May’s many years of diverse experience on international missions, and her deep understanding of Asia, will serve to manage this important bilateral relationship and advance Canadian interests in China,” Trudeau said in the statement.
Canada has been without an ambassador to China since the end of 2021, when Dominic Barton moved out of the Beijing offices.
Canada has an embassy in Beijing, as well as consulates general in Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
Asked by CTV News a few months back what the holdup was when Canada hit the six-month mark without an ambassador, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s office had pledged a representative would be named in “due course,” saying officials continued to engage with China at the “highest levels.”
At the time, former ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques said that the notable absence was an indication that the federal government “does not understand” the value of a strong diplomatic presence on the ground.
“Having an ambassador gives you intelligence… because here’s a person who can have access to high-level [information] that other people at the embassy can’t,” he said. “You are depriving yourself from all that useful information.”
Barton publicly announced his resignation on Dec. 6, 2021, just months after helping to secure the release of former diplomat and entrepreneur Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
The two men were arbitrarily detained and held in a Chinese jail for more than 1,000 days. Their arrests are widely seen as retaliation for the Vancouver arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request.
Those events launched what would become nearly three years of icy relations between Canada and China.
May’s appointment comes just ahead of Canada marking the one-year anniversary of the two Michael’s release.
It was late on the night of Sept. 24, 2021 when Trudeau made a national address, announcing that Kovrig and Spavor had boarded a plane in China with Barton, and “they’re on the way home.”
With files from CTV National News Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier, CTV National News Producer Mackenzie Gray and CTVNews.ca Producer Sarah Turnbull
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