Amid calls to present a comprehensive border reopening plan before thinking about calling a federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that it’s going to be “quite a while” yet before Canada is ready to welcome in any tourists who are unvaccinated.
In response to a question from CTV News about when the tourism sector could start accepting vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers from abroad, Trudeau said: “I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen for quite a while.”
“We need to continue to ensure that the safety of Canadians, of all the sacrifices that so many people have made over the past many, many months, are not for nothing,” Trudeau said Thursday during a press conference in British Columbia.
The prime minister said he doesn’t want to jeopardize the progress made in the fight against the pandemic by throwing open the border too quickly.
Earlier on Thursday, Ottawa business owners and the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable held a press conference imploring the federal government to put forward a plan that will allow the tourism sector to plan for what their summer travel season will look like.
“Business owners aren’t picky, what they ask for is a plan that they can rely on, a plan that allows for preparation, for rehiring and for retooling, a predictable path forward that creates confidence for the future. And they need lead time to prepare,” said Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Perrin Beatty. “Canadians need clarity and certainty, which today we don’t have, and the goalposts keep moving. It’s time to pick a goal, and to stick with it.”
Beatty said that because governments typically ease off of major decision making once an election is called, the industry is worried that if a border plan isn’t put in place soon, it may be months before one comes to fruition.
The industry stakeholders said that their sector has lost billions in revenue already, and the prospect of being closed for business for a second summer is hard to think about given the high vaccination rates among Canadians.
“What’s been frustrating and infuriating is being on the government regulated yo-yo, not knowing if you’re going to be open, when you’re going to be open,” said Joe Kowalski, founder of Wilderness Tours. “The people that are making these decisions do not have a clue how the real world works.”
Earlier on Thursday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that the Public Health Agency of Canada is currently looking at the data related to the updated policy that came into effect earlier this week, easing up on quarantine requirements for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and select others who are fully vaccinated.
“What is the test positive rate? And what are we finding in the actual travellers coming in right now in this in very initial precautionary phase?” Tam said. “That might then help us adjust the next phases moving forwards in terms of what’s the testing regime that’s appropriate for vaccinated travellers, for example.”
Trudeau was asked to, but did not commit to putting some goalposts in place for when even fully vaccinated foreign nationals could start visiting Canada, with the ongoing border restrictions continuing to limit non-essential travel for most.
The prime minister said that he understands the impatience to return to as much of pre-pandemic normalcy as possible but the government remains hesitant to put dates or timelines on the table for when the month-over-month extensions of the international and Canada-U.S. border restrictions could be lifted.
“Before we get to reflecting on what international travellers who are not fully vaccinated might be able to do… The next step will be looking at what measures we can allow for international travellers who are fully vaccinated. That will be our first focus, and we will have more to say in the coming weeks,” Trudeau said, promising continued aid for the tourism businesses.
“We will continue the reopening of our borders, but we will do it in a way that ensures the ongoing safety of all Canadians.”
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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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