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US groups need to stop interfering in Canada: US ex-envoy – Al Jazeera English

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A former American ambassador to Canada said groups in the US need to cease interfering in what many call an “occupation” in Ottawa as thousands protest vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions.

Protesters continued to hold loud rallies on Sunday in cities across the country in a show of solidarity with a week-long demonstration in the capital.

“Under no circumstances should any group in the USA fund disruptive activities in Canada. Period. Full stop,” Bruce Heyman, a former US ambassador under Barack Obama, tweeted late on Saturday.

After crowdfunding site GoFundMe said it would refund or redirect to charities the vast majority of millions raised by demonstrators protesting COVID-19 measures in the Canadian capital, prominent US Republicans such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis complained.

“It is a fraud for @gofundme to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing,” DeSantis tweeted.

He added he would investigate these deceptive practices and donors should be given a refund.

But GoFundMe had already changed its mind and said it would be issuing refunds to all. The company said it cut off funding for the organisers because it had determined the effort violated the site’s terms of service due to unlawful activity.

The so-called Freedom Convoy began as a movement against a vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers but has turned into a rallying point against public health measures.

Protesters have shut down downtown Ottawa for more than a week, with some participants waving Confederate or Nazi flags and some saying they want to dissolve Canada’s government.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the protests an occupation.

US Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has embraced conspiracy theories, also denounced GoFundMe for the move.

In Canada’s largest city, Toronto, police set up roadblocks throughout downtown, preventing any protesters in trucks or cars from getting near the provincial legislature, which is near five major hospitals. Police later moved in to clear a key intersection in the city.

Demonstrators stage a counter-protest at City Hall as truckers and supporters continue to protest the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 5, 2022Demonstrators stage a counter-protest at City Hall as truckers and supporters continue to protest coronavirus vaccine mandates in Ottawa [Blair Gable/Reuters]

Thousands descended on Ottawa again this weekend. Participants roasted hotdogs and doled out baked goods under tarps, while two men on horseback trotted through the city, one carrying a flag in support of former US President Donald Trump.

The former US president has spoken out in support of the truckers against “the harsh policies of far-left lunatic [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane COVID mandates”.

Residents of Ottawa are furious at the nonstop blaring of horns, traffic disruption and harassment, fearing no end is in sight.

In Toronto, a couple of hundred healthcare workers and supporters marched from the University of Toronto to the legislature against the truckers’ protests. They held placards reading, “free-dumb” and “N95 masks for all”.

Fringe minority

Trudeau, who has said the protesters represent only a “fringe minority”, earlier this week ruled out the use of troops against the truckers in the capital.

Demonstrators against COVID measures also gathered in Quebec City, Fredericton, and Winnipeg, with rallies planned for Regina, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria and the US border crossing in Coutts, Alberta province.

Police forces in those cities say they have learned lessons from Ottawa’s predicament and have developed strategies designed to protect key infrastructures, such as vital traffic corridors and hospitals, and also to prevent possible violence.

Some protesters set fireworks on the grounds of the National War Memorial late on Friday, drawing outrage from many Canadians.

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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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