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Zelenskyy to virtually address Canadian university students on how to support Ukraine

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TORONTO — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to virtually address Canadian university students this morning.

Zelenskyy is scheduled to speak to an in-person audience at the University of Toronto about how Canadian universities can support Ukraine, nearly four months after Russia’s invasion of the country.

Students from 10 other universities across Canada will take part virtually, including the Université de Montréal, the University of Alberta, Western University and Dalhousie University.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is also expected to attend the event, which is being hosted by the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

University of Toronto President Meric Gertler says the institution has a “special connection” with the Ukrainian president and that his country has demonstrated “incredible bravery” fighting off the Russian aggression.

Last month, the institution announced a program to welcome more than 200 students whose studies were disrupted by the war in Ukraine, and a group of 20 students arrived to Toronto from Kyiv last month.

Zelenskyy visited the university’s campus in 2019 to attend an international summit on the future of Ukraine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Rodeo group in Alberta sorry for float that critics say was racist

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SUNDRE, Alta. — Organizers of a rodeo in southern Alberta are apologizing for a parade float with a turban-wearing man in a fake beard seated on a manure spreader with the words “The Liberal” painted on the side.

Photos of the float from Saturday’s event in Sundre, Alta., about 80 kilometres northwest of Calgary, circulated on social media. It drew condemnation from a Sikh group in Calgary, which said the float was racist, as well as from some Alberta MPs.

Sundre Pro Rodeo posted a statement from its parade committee on Facebook saying the float had not been approved and had joined the parade without passing through any registration.

The rodeo further offered its deepest apologies, noting the float had been entered as a tractor.

Some people who commented on the apology questioned the accusation of racism, noting the man in the turban and beard, who was not in blackface, was meant to depict federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh as a Liberal lapdog.

Sundre Pro Rodeo said in its posts that it “is committed to ensuring that entries will be reviewed in any future events” to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

“The Sundre Pro Rodeo does not approve the floats for the parade. That is entirely up to the parade committee! If we knew about that float, we would have NEVER approved it!” the organization’s Facebook post read.

“Nobody had a clue that it had such profanity. So we are sorry.”

George Chahal, a Liberal MP representing Calgary Skyview, condemned those responsible for what he called a “despicable display of racism.”

“The Sikh community in Canada, of which I am a proud member, has a wide diversity of political perspectives,” said a post on Chahal’s Twitter account.

“More importantly, Sikhs have been a steadfast force for good in Alberta and across the country.”

Jasraj Singh Hallan, a Conservative MP representing Calgary Forest Lawn, posted the float “should be condemned in strongest terms by all.”

“This is absolutely disgusting. These kinds of acts have no place in Canada,” he said in a Twitter post.

The Dashmesh Culture Centre, a Sikh community group in Calgary, said in a Twitter post that it welcomed representatives from the rodeo and parade committee to visit and learn about Sikhs.

“We need to have serious conversations and actions to stop these forms of racism,” the centre wrote in a social media post.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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G7 leaders hear from Ukrainian President, Russia-allied India at summit

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SCHLOSS ELMAU, GERMANY — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed G7 leaders virtually at their summit in Germany on Monday as they discussed the threat to global stability posed by Russia’s invasion of his country.

The leaders met in a bright and beautiful meeting room in Schloss Elmau, Germany, a veritable mountaintop castle surrounded by blooming meadows and stunning vistas.

Zelenskyy appeared on a small monitor looking down on the group, stone-faced, in front of a grey background.

The conflict has been a running theme through Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s meetings with world leaders in Germany, as well as last week at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda.

Trudeau spoke to Zelenskyy on the first day of the G7 summit to inquire what he needs from the leaders. According to Zelenskyy’s Twitter account, the two spoke about increasing defence support for the embattled country.

The heads of the world’s most developed economies dedicatedtheir first session of the day to discussing the war and listening to Zelenskyy’s pleas for more aid.

Before the meeting, Trudeau and summit host Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke during a walk from the manor building, or schloss in German, down to one of the meadows, nestled between the building and the mountain view.

“We are … cautious that we will help the Ukraine as much as is possible, but that we also avoid that there will be a big conflict between Russia and NATO,” Scholz told the media during a photo op with Trudeau.

The night before in Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv, weeks of general calm were shattered by Russian missile strikes. The missiles hit a kindergarten and a residential building, killing one man and injuring a woman and child, the city’s mayor said.

While G7 leaders have been united in their condemnation of Russia, they are also expected to meet with Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, who has been invited to the summit but who also tightened economic and diplomatic ties with Russia in recent months.

Trudeau will meet with Modi one-on-one in a private meeting as well.

On Sunday, the United Kingdom announced new sanctions against Russia which would ban the import of Russian gold, the country’s biggest non-energy export.

The U.K. government says the same will apply to Canada, the United States and Japan, which, as a combined effort, would shut Russia out of formal markets. The idea is to “ratchet up pressure on Russia’s war machine,” squeezing the country out of funds to finance the conflict.

Russia was poised to default on its foreign debt for the first time since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution on Sunday, further alienating the country from the global financial system.

Russia calls any default artificial because it has the money to pay its debts but says sanctions have frozen its foreign currency reserves held abroad.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.

 

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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How Canada handled COVID-19 compared to other countries – CTV News

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Canada handled key aspects of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic better in the first two years of the health emergency than most G10 countries, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Toronto and Unity Health Toronto compared COVID-19 infection, death, excess mortality and vaccination rates, social and public health restrictions and economic performance to determine how the G10 countries performed.

The countries — including Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States — were chosen due to similarities in their economic and political models, per-capita income levels and population size.

Dr. Fahad Razak, who co-authored the study, also serves as scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

“The pandemic had an enormous impact on all countries… and if we look at countries that are very similar to our own, we see that there were enormous challenges across the board,” Razak told CTVNews.ca.

“Given all of that, the burden of the pandemic we experienced in Canada was probably lower than many other countries, and it was probably related to the engagement we had with things like vaccination and the restrictions that were experienced here.”

While Canada was one of the slowest to introduce COVID-19 vaccines, it had the highest proportion of fully vaccinated people as of February, 2022.

Canada’s per-capita rate of COVID-19 cases per million — 82,700 — was the second lowest of all the countries included in the study, after Japan.

Canada’s rate of COVID-19 deaths was also second-lowest among countries included in the study, at 919 deaths per one million, as was its excess mortality rate, which incorporates the number of deaths during a period of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the expected number of deaths in nominal conditions. Only Japan’s COVID-19 death and excess mortality rates were lower, despite the country’s lower vaccination rates, less severe restrictions and older population.

ALTERNATE OUTCOMES

The study determined that if France’s rate of infection had occurred in Canada in the first two years of the pandemic, Canada would have seen about 8.75 million more infections. If America’s vaccination and COVID-19-related death rates had occurred in Canada, about 5.9 million fewer Canadians would have been vaccinated and about 68,800 more would have died from COVID-19.

“That number means that most of us probably would have a friend or a family member… who would have died in Canada in the last two years… and who’s alive today,” Razak said.

Canada’s public health restrictions were the most stringent after Italy’s, and it had the most weeks of school closures after the U.S. Canada’s economy experienced trends similar to to other countries in inflation and public debt, but Canadian GDP growth was weaker.

While it might be tempting to assume Canada’s weak GDP growth was the result of public health restrictions including retail closures and restrictions on public gatherings, Razak cautioned that GDP is affected by a complicated range of factors across many different sectors.

What’s important right now, Razak said, is that people understand the impact of their actions — including following public health guidelines and getting vaccinated — on Canada’s infection and death rates. Even a reduction in the number of non-fatal SARS-CoV-2 infections means a lower percentage of the population will suffer from the effects of long-term COVID-19 symptoms. While scientists are still learning about the condition, many COVID long-haulers have reported difficulty working and caring for their families.

“We achieved this over the last two years with real costs; with costs to individual freedom and restrictions on societal functions and potentially some economic costs as well,” Razak said. “Was it worth it? That’s the question people need to ask themselves.”

What people decide when considering this question could have implications for the way they handle potential future restrictions, should cases surge again in the fall. Canadians have already shown signs of growing fatigue around COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination recommendations. For example, while approximately 81.7 per cent of Canada’s total population is fully vaccinated, only 48.6 per cent of Canadians have received a booster dose as of May 22.

“That is a really important signal of the fact that the public’s engagement with the steps for pandemic control is starting to erode,” Razak said. “And there’s an important need for policy makers to re-engage the public and emphasize how well we’ve done, but also use that as a launching point to say, ‘Here are the next challenges.'”

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What questions do you have about travel rules amid COVID-19?

CTVNews.ca wants to hear from Canadians with any questions.

Tell us what you’d like to know when it comes to rules around entering or leaving Canada.

To submit your question, email us at dotcom@bellmedia.ca with your name, location and question. Your comments may be used in a CTVNews.ca story.

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