Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today condemned the wave of vandalism and arson attacks targeting Catholic churches across Canada, saying it’s not the solution to the trauma caused by residential schools.
Speaking to reporters after touring an Ottawa vaccination clinic, Trudeau said there has been “a rise of intolerance and racism and hatred that we’re seeing across the country.”
“It is unacceptable and wrong that acts of vandalism and arson are being seen across the country, including against Catholic churches,” he told reporters.
Trudeau said he understands the anger felt by many across the country since several First Nations reported finding unmarked graves at former residential school sites — but setting fire to churches is wrong.
“I can’t help but think that burning down churches is actually depriving people who are in need of grieving and healing and mourning (of) places where they can actually grieve and reflect and look for support,” Trudeau said.
“We shouldn’t be lashing out at buildings that can provide solace to some of our fellow citizens. But we should be, every day, committing ourselves, each and every one of us, to the hard work that we need to do to actually rebuild a path forward that reflects the terrible intergenerational trauma and present day realities of suffering that we are all collectively responsible for.”
Trudeau’s comments come after churches in different parts of the country have been burned or spray painted with messages related to the recent discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools.
‘The anger … is real’
The federal government recently renewed funding for the Security Infrastructure Program, which works with religious institutions to upgrade security. In the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the government announced plans to spend $13 million on the program over the next five years.
Trudeau said he understands the anger in Canada’s Indigenous communities.
“The anger … is real,” he said. “People have gone decades and even generations living with intergenerational trauma, with outcomes and institutional racism that has created extreme difficulties for Indigenous peoples across this country that are also the legacy of residential schools.
“I certainly wish we could have finished with reconciliation in five or six years,” he said. “We have done an awful lot as a government to set down that path of reconciliation but there is an incredible amount still to do.
“What took generations and centuries to break in terms of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, it will take more than just a few years to fix it all.”
Trudeau held his news conference today as several towns in British Columbia are being threatened by wildfires.
The prime minister said the federal government is working with British Columbia and First Nations to provide help to those communities.
“We’re going to be there to support people getting through this incredibly difficult time of loss, of devastation,” he said. “We’re going to be there to help rebuild.”
Trudeau warned that Canada is experiencing more extreme weather events, like floods and forest fires, and those threats will persist unless the country addresses climate change.
Asked about the risk that new rules going into effect next week — which will relieve fully vaccinated travellers returning to Canada of the requirement to quarantine — could result in a rise in COVID-19 cases, Trudeau said he’s confident border officials can handle the situation.
He refused to give any hints of when he is prepared to open Canada’s border to Americans, however.
Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at email@example.com
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All three levels of government, police, organizers granted full standing on inquiry
OTTAWA — The commissioner of the inquiry examining Ottawa’s use of the Emergencies Act to bring an end to the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protest in February has granted standing to the organizers, police and representatives of all three levels of government.
The decision by Paul Rouleau means those granted standing will be given advance notice on information submitted into evidence before the inquiry, and also gives them certain privileges, such as the opportunity to suggest or cross-examine witnesses.
Those granted full standing in the public inquiry include the federal, Alberta and Saskatchewan governments, the cities of Ottawa and Windsor, Ont., the Ottawa Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police and the organizers of the convoy, including Tamara Lich, Tom Marazzo and Chris Barber.
Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly will be allowed to produce documents, make submissions on factual, evidentiary and policy-related issues and examine witnesses, and the Manitoba government has been granted permission to provide written submissions.
However, Rouleau denied standing to the Conservative Party of Canada and several participants of the protests, some of whom had their bank accounts frozen under the Act.
Rouleau said it is important that the inquiry remain an independent, non-partisan process, noting there is also the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the Declaration of Emergency reviewing the use of the Act’s powers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Ottawa police say they're ready to shut down Canada Day occupation attempts – CBC.ca
Ottawa city officials say they are prepared for a “unique” Canada Day, with plans to keep anti-government protests from turning into another occupation.
The traditional nationally broadcast shows are returning for the first time since 2019, this time from the plaza in front of the Canadian War Museum because of ongoing construction on Parliament Hill.
Ottawa police say they expect more protests and larger crowds than usual during Canada Day celebrations as groups related to the Freedom Convoy continue to plan demonstrations. Some in those groups have indicated they’d like to protest through July and August.
“This is expected to be a unique Canada Day, with larger crowds and a larger event footprint,” interim Ottawa police Chief Steve Bell said during a Monday news conference.
“We’ve developed our plans in the shadow of the unlawful protests and Rolling Thunder event. We’ve been speaking with community members and businesses and we’re very aware of the lingering trauma and concern about what they’re hearing after those events.”
Bell said officers will allow legal protests while shutting down illegal activities, including setting up structures or speakers without a permit and the threat of occupation, like on downtown streets in the winter.
He said police have been following online commentary and trying to talk to people who’ve said they’re coming to protest.
“[We’ve] planned, we’re prepared and we have the resources,” Bell replied when answering a question about whether police were ready to step in again like they did in late April, when attempts to gather near the Rideau Centre mall were shut down by officers.
Provincial police and the RCMP have offered help to shut down occupation attempts as long as there’s a risk, he said.
The Ottawa Police Services Board received an update on plans for Canada Day when it met Monday evening.
Bell spoke about the toll recent months have taken on officers, noting the demand is not “sustainable” and describing police as “fatigued” ahead of the long weekend.
“For this event we’ve actually had to cancel days off, we’ve cancelled discretionary time off, called people back from annual leave,” said the chief. “This is an all hands on deck event, but that has a cost on the health and wellbeing of our members.”
At least 5 days of traffic control
Last week, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told people thinking of coming to the capital “not to be intimidated by individuals who may be coming to Ottawa to cause trouble.”
He said Monday he wants this to be a safe, festive event for children and families and that people who “come to disrupt” will be dealt with, without a warning.
Bell told the police board that the force has been clear with its expectations for demonstrators, and that harassment won’t be tolerated.
“If there is a hate or bias crime incidents, if there’s intimidation or threats, we will actively investigate those,” he said, adding police know residents have “scars” from the occupation.
“I want to reassure you that those feelings, that trauma that our community has felt is front and centre in all of our planning efforts and will be front and centre in our response efforts.”
Overall, Bell said police are expecting hundreds of thousands of people downtown. For comparison, an estimated 56,000 people went to the shows on Parliament Hill in 2019 and that doesn’t count everyone celebrating nearby.
There will be the traditional Canada Day road closures Friday July 1 and early Saturday, though there are more closures near LeBreton Flats because of that change in show location.
But Ottawa police are establishing another “vehicle exclusion zone” — similar to what was set up in late April for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally — with no street parking at all and no protest vehicles allowed in from 8 a.m. this Wednesday until at least 6 a.m. on Monday, July 4.
Those plans may change if needed, officials said Monday. People are asked to plan ahead, expect delays and check city pages and local media for updates.
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