US, Mexico, Canada To Sign Deal Finalising Trade Agreement

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (L), US President Donald Trump (C) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are pictured after signing a new free trade agreement in Buenos Aires, on November 30, 2018, on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit.  Martin BERNETTI / AFP

 

The United States, Mexico and Canada will sign an “initial deal” Tuesday finalizing the USMCA trade agreement, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

“There is an initial deal between the governments,” the leftist leader told his daily news conference, as negotiators from the three countries prepared to meet in Mexico City.

“Today it will be signed by… the three countries’ negotiators.”

Lopez Obrador was due to chair a meeting of top officials from the three countries at the presidential palace at 1800 GMT.

Initially signed in November 2018, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is meant to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which President Donald Trump complains has been “a disaster” for the US.

But Mexico is the only country to ratify it so far.

In Washington, opposition Democrats — acutely aware of the need to win back blue-collar voters they lost to Trump in 2016 — have insisted on greater oversight of Mexican labor reforms promised under the new deal, including wage hikes and increased power for unions.

AFP

Seven Dead In Small Plane Crash In Canada

TSB investigators search the site of the November 27 collision with the terrain in Kingston. Credit: @TSBCanada/Twitter.

 

Five Americans and two Canadians were killed when a light aircraft crashed in a wooded area on the north shore of Lake Ontario, Canada’s transport safety agency said Thursday.

The US-registered single-engine Piper PA-32 departed Toronto’s Buttonville Airport and was apparently headed to Quebec City when it crashed on approach to the Kingston, Ontario airport on Wednesday just after five pm (2200 GMT), Transportation Safety Board (TSB) investigator Ken Webster told a press conference.

Emergency services, including police on all-terrain vehicles and a military search and rescue helicopter, were dispatched to locate the downed plane, which was found in a thick rush.

READ ALSO: Updated: Plane Crash Kills 29 At DR Congo City

“Five Americans and two Canadians were aboard,” TSB spokeswoman Nora Vallee told reporters.

Canadian media reported that the pilot was from the state of Texas and the plane was carrying his spouse, three children aged three, 11 and 15 along with two Canadians.

The foreign ministry of Uzbekistan identified two of the victims — Otabek Oblokulov and Bobomurod Nabiev — as citizens of the ex-Soviet country in Central Asia.

It said Oblokulov had been piloting the plane and that the other victims included his wife and three children.

Canadian investigators were busy throughout the day “taking pictures of the wreckage, looking at the condition of the engines and the general condition of the aircraft,” TSB spokesman Alexandre Fournier told AFP.

He added that they would also try to recover the plane’s flight recorder and review radio communications with control towers.

37 Killed In Burkina Faso’s Deadliest Attack In Five Years

FILES) In this file photo taken on March 02, 2019 Burkinabe soldiers take part in a ceremony in Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso’s security forces are overwhelmed by the flare-up of attacks carried out almost every day by jihadist groups. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in Burkina Faso killed 37 people on Wednesday, the deadliest attack in nearly five years of jihadist violence in the West African country.

The impoverished and politically fragile Sahel country has been struggling to quell a rising jihadist revolt that has claimed hundreds of lives since early 2015.

On Wednesday morning “unidentified armed individuals” ambushed five buses carrying local employees, contractors and suppliers of the Samafo mining company, said Saidou Sanou, the governor of the country’s Est Region.

As well as the 37 civilians killed, 60 were wounded, he said.

Mine owner Semafo Inc. said the five buses escorted by the military were approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Boungou gold mine in the Tapoa province when they were ambushed.

A security source said “a military vehicle that was escorting the convoy hit an explosive device”.

“Two buses carrying workers were then fired upon,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Burkina Faso’s government said the gunmen had conducted a “complex attack”, adding that defence and security forces had launched a relief operation and were searching the area.

READ ALSO: Two Killed As Clashes Erupt At Guinea Funeral March

It was the third deadly attack on Canadian firm Semafo, which operates two mines in Burkina Faso, in 15 months.

“We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers,” Semafo said in a statement, offering condolences to the families of the victims.

The mine itself, it added, remains secure and its operations had not been affected.

Two separate attacks on convoys carrying Boungou mine employees in August and December last year killed 11 people.

The company blamed “armed bandits” for last year’s attacks, and subsequently reinforced its armed escorts.

The Burkina Faso government this year asked mining companies to make their own arrangements to transport their employees, according to sources close to the miners.

Nearly 700 dead in five years

Burkina Faso’s northern provinces have been battling a nearly five-year wave of jihadist violence that came from neighbouring Mali.

The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed nearly 700 lives across the country since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.

Almost 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.

The attacks have been claimed by a range of jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The country’s badly equipped, poorly trained and underfunded security forces have been unable to stem the violence, which has intensified throughout 2019 to become almost daily.

The Sahel region, including Burkina Faso’s neighbours Mali and Niger, has been afflicted by the violence despite the presence of the regional G5 Sahel force as well as French and US troops.

Burkina Faso’s previous deadliest attack was in January 2016, when jihadists raided the Splendid Hotel and a cafe in the capital Ouagadougou, killing 30 people, around half of them foreign nationals.

In August this year, the army suffered its worst attack with 24 soldiers killed in an assault on a base in Koutougou, near the Mali border.

On Monday, an attack on a base in northern Burkina Faso killed at least five gendarmes and five civilians.

China To Lift Ban On Canadian Beef, Pork

In this file photo taken on June 26, 2019, Pigs are seen at the Meloporc farm in Saint-Thomas de Joliette, Quebec, Canada.  Sebastien St-Jean / AFP

 

China has agreed to resume imports of Canadian beef and pork, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday, signalling a breakthrough in their tense relations.

“Good news for Canadian farmers today: Canadian pork and beef exports to China will resume,” Trudeau said in a tweet.

He thanked Canada’s new ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, who was appointed in September, and the country’s meat industry for working to reopen “this important market for our meat producers and their families.”

China had blocked beef and pork shipments from Canada in June, alleging contamination and bogus documents — claims disputed by Ottawa — amid an escalating diplomatic row.

China is Canada’s third-largest market for beef and its fifth-largest for pork, according to government data.

Trade and agriculture ministers Jim Carr and Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a statement that Canada’s foreign ministry and food inspection agency “engaged with China on this issue” over the past few months.

“We will continue to work closely with beef and pork producers and processors in the coming days and weeks to ensure successful resumption of trade,” the pair said in a joint statement.

China had asked Canada in June to investigate false veterinary health certificates attached to a batch of pork, while the official Xinhua news agency said customs officials in the eastern city of Nanjing had found ractopamine in pork shipments.

The feed additive, which boosts the growth of animals, is widely used in the United States but banned in the European Union and China.

The forgery allegations — which federal police were called in to investigate — came after relations between the two nations were strained by Canada’s arrest of a senior Chinese telecoms executive and China’s detention of two Canadian nationals in apparent retaliation.

Although no official link was made, the pork ban was seen as an escalation in response to Canada’s arrest in December of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition request related to alleged Iran sanctions violations.

Cattlemen at the time were said to have been puzzled why they were included in the ban.

“Our long-standing trade relationship with China is very important to both sides and this represents an important step for both countries,” commented Canadian Meat Council President, Chris White.

He noted that the decision comes on the eve of an industry-led mission to China to work through any lingering customs and shipping issues.

Trudeau Faces Divided Canada, New Challenges In Second Term

Liberal Leader and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his victory speech at his election night headquarters on October 21, 2019 in Montreal, Canada.  Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP

 

A controversial pipeline, reinvigorated Quebec nationalism and a growing rift with western prairie provinces: voters gave Justin Trudeau a second term in office but with a weakened minority government that will face immediate challenges.

Increased oil exports 

The Liberals’s nationalization last year of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to prevent its collapse under legal challenges and protests has been panned by the eco-friendly wing of the party that sees it as contrary to efforts to curb CO2 emissions.

Canada’s oil sector is the fourth largest in the world, but has struggled under low prices and a lack of oil conduits to new markets. And oil proponents say Trans Mountain, purchased by Ottawa for Can$4.5 billion, would greatly help ease transportation clots.

In order to stay in office, Trudeau will need to form alliances with smaller parties such as the New Democrats (NDP), but they have come out strongly opposed to the project, putting its future in doubt.

“On Trans Mountain, perhaps both sides will have to put water in their wine,” said McGill University politics professor Daniel Beland.

Trudeau must navigate how to “get along with the NDP without taking his centrist party too far to the left.”

Beland noted that the Liberals have governed for much of the past 152 years since Confederation “because it is a party that is pragmatic, flexible.”

A nation deeply divided 

Monday night, the Liberal’s small beachhead in the western prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan was completely wiped out, with Conservatives claiming all 48 seats but one in Edmonton that went to the NDP.

The Conservative premiers of these two provinces are openly hostile to Trudeau and his climate policies, and his win Monday has led to talk of landlocked Alberta splitting from the rest of Canada to go it alone.

“It will be difficult to put together a cabinet without any representation from Alberta,” an oil-rich province that’s the fourth most-populous in the nation, Beland said.

“The Liberals are going to have to work with the NDP, which means they will have to track to the left” and take an even tougher stance on the oil sector to accommodate the NDP, he said. “That’s not good news for Albertans and people in Saskatchewan who are already unhappy with Trudeau’s carbon tax.”

Cancelling the Trans Mountain expansion to appease the NDP “would create a huge backlash in these two provinces” and exacerbate regional tensions, he said.

At the same time, moving ahead with the project could make an alliance with the NDP tricky.

 Quebec nationalism 

The down-and-out separatist Bloc Quebec, led by charismatic Yves-Francois Blanchet, scored a big comeback on Monday, tripling its seat count in parliament to 32. It went from having previously lost official party status in parliament to being the nation’s third-largest party, despite having only fielded candidates in Quebec province.

The Bloc and Trudeau’s Liberals are at odds over a new secularism law in Quebec that prohibits some public servants from wearing religious symbols such as veils or turbans.

It is hugely popular in Quebec, but seen in the rest of Canada as an affront to individual rights and freedoms.

Trudeau is a strong proponent of multiculturalism and has said he would consider fighting the law, depending on the outcome of court challenges brought by individuals and groups in Quebec. The bloc has urged against federal intervention.

AFP

Canadian PM Trudeau Wears Bulletproof Vest At Election Rally

In this file photo taken on October 7, 2019 Canadian Prime Minister and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau listens to questions during a press conference after the Federal Leaders Debate at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. Dave Chan / AFP

 

 

Canadian leader Justin Trudeau wore a bulletproof vest and was surrounded by heavy security during an election campaign rally after receiving a security threat, sources told the national broadcaster.

Trudeau had body armor under his shirt and jacket, photos from the event showed, when he appeared an hour and a half late at the 2,000-strong meeting in a suburb of the capital Toronto on Saturday.

He doesn’t normally wear a jacket while campaigning.

As Trudeau left the stage to greet supporters he was surrounded by security officers, some with large backpacks on, footage showed.

READ ALSO: Turkey Assault Could Displace 400,000 In Syria, Says UN

AFP

Canadian PM Trudeau To Participate In Climate Change March

 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he will take part in a climate action march led by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg — as the environment emerges as a key election issue.

His main rival Conservative leader Andrew Scheer will be campaigning in Vancouver, but Friday’s rally in Montreal is expected to draw local Tory candidates as well as Trudeau.

Trudeau, who faces elections October 21, paddled up in a canoe Thursday in Sudbury, Ontario to make announce he would be marching in Montreal with thousands of other Canadians to “fight for the environment.”

“There has been an extraordinary amount of mobilization by young people and by Canadians across this country and indeed around the world calling for real action on climate change,” he said.

The Montreal event coincides with similar so-called “climate strikes” around the globe.

Schools, colleges and universities have suspended classes for the day, and the city government has encouraged staff to take the day off.

Thunberg, 16, on Monday accused world leaders in a rousing “How Dare You?” speech at the UN climate summit of betraying her generation.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she thundered, visibly angry and close to tears.

The teen has spurred millions of youths to protest, drawn by her steely determination despite her years.

Organizers said Thunberg also will take aim at airlines’ skyrocketing CO2 emissions in a speech outside the UN aviation agency in Montreal, which is holding its annual conference.

The International Civil Aviation Organization’s 193 member states this week are taking stock of the implementation of a climate plan unveiled at its last general assembly in 2016.

Aviation accounts for about two percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the ICAO.

Under its so-called Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), participating airlines are expected to stabilize their CO2 emissions by 2020, and buy offsetting credits thereafter if they exceed set limits.

Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic for the UN climate summit in New York specifically to avoid flying.

AFP

Celine Dion Returns To Canada To Kick Off World Tour

 

After living and crooning for years in Las Vegas, French-Canadian superstar Celine Dion has returned home to Quebec to kick off her first world tour in a decade on Wednesday.

At 51, the Grammy winner also recently announced the release of a new album entitled “Courage,” which will be her 12th in English and is due out on November 15.

The first single “Flying On My Own,” featuring her powerful vocals backed by techno beats, has already received airplay, while three more dropped Wednesday: “Courage,” “Lying Down” and “Imperfections.”

Known for her blockbuster ballads, Dion said in April that she felt motivated to create new music and hit the road after the 2016 death of her husband and manager Rene Angelil.

READ ALSO: ‘The Cars’ Lead Singer, Ric Ocasek Dies At 75

“When I lost Rene, he wanted me back on stage. He wanted to make sure I was still practicing my passion,” she said. “I wanted to prove to him that I’m fine, we’re fine, we’re going to be OK. I’ve got this.”

So, after more than 1,140 concerts for 4.5 million fans over 16 years in Sin City, she bid adieu to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace with a final two-hour show.

“Courage is exactly the way I feel,” she told public broadcaster CBC at the time, talking up the upcoming tour of the same name.

“In the past three years, it has been difficult for me to talk to my children, to raise them, to lose my husband, wondering am I going to sing again… so much has happened, but at the same time I feel that I’m in control of my life.”

Carrying on with ‘Courage’

Some 60 dates in North American have been confirmed so far, her label said, with two arena shows in Quebec City on Wednesday and Saturday kicking off the tour, which will run through April 2020. Dates elsewhere in the world are still being firmed up.

During her Las Vegas residency, the diva went on a few short regional tours, mostly in Europe and Asia, but her last worldwide tour was in 2008-2009.

“Courage” marks the first album and tour in Dion’s long career without Angelil, who steered her success beginning in 1981 when he mortgaged his house to finance the young teen’s debut album.

The pair began a personal relationship in 1988 when she was only 19 years old, and married in a lavish ceremony in 1994. Angelil died of throat cancer at age 73.

In an interview with NBC’s Today show, Dion revealed that she longs for the hugs and laughs that come with a relationship, but added, “I’m not ready to date.”

The youngest of a family of 14 children raised in the suburbs of Montreal, Dion has sold 250 million copies of 23 studio albums in English and French, including collaborations with French singer-songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder.

Back in Canada, she told the Montreal Gazette that the tour schedule was “a little crazy,” but that she had found time in advance to take in life’s small pleasures.

“Even though it’s raining today here, it’s wonderful to see some rain because I live in (dry) Vegas so rain is beautiful,” she commented. “And the trees are just about to change colour. We’ve had two corn-on-the-cob parties with the family.”

At a press junket last Friday, Dion was described as jocular, flamboyant, effervescent, and as always, speaking her mind.

She told Radio-Canada she hoped for “a good show and a great album that will please everyone.”

“There are good wines that age well, and there are good wines that age badly. I hope to be a good bottle of wine. I would like that, age well. I would like that,” she said.

“I’m not a new Celine,” Dion added. “I’m a continuity of myself.”

‘Angel Has Fallen’ Rises To Top Of N.American Box Office

 

 

Lionsgate’s new action-packed political thriller “Angel Has Fallen” debuted atop the North American box office with an estimated $21.3 million in ticket sales, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

“Angel,” which stars Gerard Butler playing a Secret Service agent wrongly accused of trying to kill the president (Morgan Freeman), is the third film in the franchise. It also stars Nick Nolte, Piper Perabo and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Last weekend’s leader, Universal’s raunchy tween comedy “Good Boys,” slipped to $11 million but managed to hold onto second spot on a sleepy late-summer weekend.

In third place was another new release, Sony’s “Overcomer,” a Christian-themed movie about a former basketball coach (Alex Kendrick) who agrees half-heartedly to help prepare a young asthmatic orphan girl (Aryn Wright-Thompson) for a huge cross-country meet.

It took in $8.2 million despite tepid reviews.

Just behind in fourth place was Disney’s updated version of “The Lion King,” which pulled in $8.15 million, bringing its domestic total over six weeks in release to $510.6 million and its global total to more than $1.5 billion.

Universal’s action film “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham came in fifth, taking in $8.1 million.

Rounding out the weekend’s top 10 were:

“Ready or Not” ($7.6 million)

“The Angry Birds Movie 2” ($6.4 million)

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” ($6 million)

“Dora & the Lost City of Gold” ($5.2 million)

“Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood” ($5 million)

Just In: Injured Serena Retires From Toronto WTA Final, Andreescu Claims

 

Serena Williams fought back tears as back pain forced her out of the WTA Toronto final after just four games on Sunday, handing the title to home hope Bianca Andreescu.

Andreescu, 19, was up 3-1 with a break of serve when 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams found she couldn’t continue.

Canada Beat New Zealand To Reach Women’s World Cup Second Round

Canada’s forward Nichelle Prince (L) celebrates after scoring a goal during the France 2019 Women’s World Cup Group E football match between Canada and New Zealand, on June 15, 2019, at the Alpes Stadium in Grenoble, central-eastern France. Jean-Pierre Clatot / AFP

 

Canada beat New Zealand 2-0 in a women’s World Cup Group E game in Grenoble on Saturday to cement a place in the second round and leave the Kiwis on the brink of elimination.

Earlier in Valenciennes, the Netherlands saw off a spirited Cameroon 3-1 to also move to six points in the group and secure their place in the last 16.

Canada had beaten Cameroon 1-0 in their opening game while New Zealand had battled hard before losing to an injury-time Dutch goal.

On Saturday, Canada again dominated andbombarded the New Zealand goal with 22 total strikes, 11 of them on target.

The Canadians took the lead after 48 minutes.

Nichelle Prince raced down the left wing, where the New Zealand defence had struggled even before right back C.J. Bott went off injured in the 17th minute.

Prince cut in along the goal line and then pulled a precise pass back to Jessie Fleming who side-footed the ball inside the far post.

Prince added a second after 78 minutes, poking home a rebound from close range after Christine Sinclair’s powerful downward header hit the inside of the post.

Despite the assist, it was another frustrating evening for 36-year-old Sinclair who is chasing retired American Abby Wambach’s record of 184 international goals.

Sinclair remained on 181 goals for Canada after nodding the ball against the bar in the first half, skying a shot from a precise low cross by the outstanding Janine Beckie early in the second and hitting the post before Prince’s goal.

Canada and the Netherlands meet in Reims on June 20 to decide who will top the group.

At the same time, New Zealand will play Cameroon in Montpellier. As things stand, a win could be enough to take either team through to the second round as one of the four best third-place teams, although that could change by kick off.

AFP

Canada Shuts Down Zoo, Charges Owner With Cruelty

Canada’s flag

 

Canadian authorities on Tuesday raided a zoo, arrested its owner, and seized more than 100 animals including lions, zebras, kangaroos and bears — after finding two dead tigers on the property.

Norman Trahan, owner of the Saint-Edouard Zoo in Saint-Edouard-de-Maskinonge, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Montreal, faces charges of animal cruelty and neglect.

If convicted he faces up to five years in prison and a lifetime ban on owning animals.

The local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which has policing powers in the province, and a team of veterinarians spent the morning cataloguing and checking on the health of each of the animals.

“Given the magnitude and the complexity of the endeavour, the operation will take place over a number of weeks and will be conducted in partnership with Humane Society International, an organization specialized in mass animal rescue operations,” Sophie Gaillard, who is in charge of the operation, told a press conference.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time in Canada that a zoo owner has been charged with criminal animal cruelty,” she said.

The seized exotic and wild animals will be moved to sanctuaries and specialized care facilities elsewhere in North America.

In a statement, the SPCA said it started investigating the zoo after receiving a tip about mistreatment of the animals from a visitor in August 2018.

Animal protection officers began documenting “significant problems” with the animals’ health and living conditions, and initially seized two alpacas in very poor condition while also finding the remains of four other animals, including the tigers, on the property.