Canadian Ministers Describe China’s Treatment Of Uighurs As ‘Genocide’

In this file photo the Canadian flag flies above the Canadian embassy in Beijing on January 15, 2019. GREG BAKER / AFP
In this file photo the Canadian flag flies above the Canadian embassy in Beijing on January 15, 2019. GREG BAKER / AFP

 

Canadian MPs voted Monday to label Beijing’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang as genocide, a move angrily slammed by China as a “malicious provocation.”

Rights groups believe at least one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps in the northwestern region, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilizing women and imposing forced labor.

The motion “Uighurs in China have been and are being subject to genocide” passed unanimously in the Canadian House of Commons, and ministers called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to officially label it as such.

The motion also called for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to be moved if the “genocide” continues.

The United States has already used the label, with the administration of former president Donald Trump slamming China in January for a “systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs.”

Trudeau had said Friday that there were significant reports of abuses coming out of Xinjiang. And following a G7 meeting, he said Canada was consulting with its international allies on the use of the term “genocide” for the treatment of Uighurs.

Beijing hit back Tuesday, calling the motion a “shameful act” and “malicious provocation against the 1.4 billion people of China.”

“Canada’s attempt to contain China’s development through passing the Xinjiang-related motion will not succeed,” the Chinese embassy in Ottawa said in a statement.

The embassy accused “hypocritical and shameless” Canadian lawmakers of “using the excuse of human rights to engage in political manipulation on Xinjiang.”

Deteriorating ties

The growing calls for action in Canada echo complaints about China’s human rights record in other Western nations, including the United States where President Joe Biden is seeking to rebuild alliances to maintain pressure on Beijing.

The new president has already criticized Beijing on its human rights situation, especially the abuses in Xinjiang, including in a marathon two-hour call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

After initially denying the existence of the camps in Xinjiang, China later defended them as vocational training centers aimed at reducing the appeal of Islamic extremism.

Beijing had said Monday that its treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet has “stood out as shining examples of China’s human rights progress.”

And Foreign Minister Wang Yi later told the UN Human Rights Council via videolink that “there has never been so-called genocide, forced labor or religious oppression in Xinjiang.”

Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated in recent years.

Ties soured in late 2018 over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant, and China’s detention of two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — in what Ottawa has called retaliation.

The two men have had virtually no contact with the outside world since being detained on spying charges.

 

AFP

Canada To Provide COVID-19 Swab Tests At US Border

File photo: A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London, on December 8, 2020. Britain on December 8 hailed a turning point in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, as it begins the biggest vaccination programme in the country’s history with a new Covid-19 jab. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Canada will provide mandatory swab tests at over a hundred land crossings on its border with the US from Monday, Ottawa said, as concerns over the spread of new coronavirus variants grow.

“Travellers entering Canada at land borders, unless exempt, will be required to take a test using a self-swab kit,” a statement from Canada’s Public Health Agency said Saturday.

“This test can be taken either at the traveller’s quarantine location or at a border testing site.”

The border is currently closed to all but essential travel, a policy which is due to last until 21 March after it was extended on Friday.

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Travellers entering Canada, unless exempt, must undergo two Covid-19 tests, one on their first day of arrival and one later in their 14-day quarantine period.

From Monday, air passengers arriving in Canada will have to undergo a three-day hotel quarantine at their own expense while they wait for the results of a coronavirus test.

Canadian media reported the telephone reservation system for the government-approved hotels was experiencing long delays on Saturday.

The country’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam on Friday underlined the danger that a growing number of coronavirus variants posed to Canadians, stressing the need for continued vigilance in the face of the pandemic.

Canada on Saturday listed over 840,000 Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with more than 21,000 deaths.

Canada Clears Boeing 737 MAX To Fly Again

In this file photo taken on December 9, 2020, a Boeing 737 MAX of Brazilian airline Gol lands at Salgado Filho airport in Porto Alegre, Brazil. SILVIO AVILA / AFP
In this file photo taken on December 9, 2020, a Boeing 737 MAX of Brazilian airline Gol lands at Salgado Filho airport in Porto Alegre, Brazil. SILVIO AVILA / AFP

 

Canada’s transport ministry said Monday it has approved the Boeing 737 MAX to fly again in this country starting on Wednesday, ending a nearly two-year grounding following two deadly crashes.

After a review of design changes and additional pilot training for the jetliner, Transport Canada said it “will lift the existing Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) which prohibits commercial operation of the aircraft in Canadian airspace on January 20, 2021.”

“This will allow for the return to service of the aircraft in Canada,” it said in a statement.

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Canadian airlines, it added, are expected to be ready to return the aircraft to service “in the coming days and weeks.”

Canada’s number two carrier WestJet has said it planned to return its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to the skies on Thursday after Boeing addressed technical issues and improved pilot training.

File photo: A Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane test its engines outside of the company’s factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFP

 

Air Canada and Sunwing also have 737 MAX aircrafts in their fleets.

The MAX crisis began with a 2018 crash of the jet in Indonesia, followed by another in March 2019 in Ethiopia, which killed a total of 346 people and saw the aircraft taken out of service across the globe.

Brazil was the first country to allow it to return to service, starting with a domestic flight in December by Brazilian budget carrier Gol, followed by American Airlines in the United States.

AFP

UK Helps Raise $1 Billion In Global Vaccine Donations

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes, with the logo of the University of Oxford and its partner British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes, with the logo of the University of Oxford and its partner British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP


Britain said on Sunday it has helped raise $1 billion (818 million euros) from global donors towards the drive to help “vulnerable countries” access coronavirus vaccines, by match-funding contributions.

The UK said, in addition, it has committed £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), after matching with £1 every $4 pledged by other donors.

Canada, Japan and Germany are among the countries to make contributions that it matched, helping the AMC raise more than $1.7 billion in total so far.

The fund will allow for the distribution of one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to 92 developing countries this year, according to Britain’s Foreign Office.

“We’ll only be safe from this virus, when we’re all safe — which is why we’re focused on a global solution to a global problem,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

The announcement came as Britain marks the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in London, hosting UN Secretary-General António Guterres for a so-called virtual visit starting Sunday.

Guterres will on Monday meet Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as Alok Sharma, who was this week designated full-time president of the UN’s next major climate summit, COP26, in November.

Sharma had previously done the role part-time alongside his UK government job of secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, which he left Friday.

Ahead of the virtual visit, Guterres said he was honoured to “renew our cause of overcoming global challenges together, and celebrate a country that was instrumental in creating the United Nations”.

Also on Monday, Guterres and global leaders will try to reignite international environmental diplomacy with a biodiversity summit to launch a critical year for efforts to stem the devastating effects of global warming and species loss.

The One Planet Summit, a largely virtual event hosted by France in partnership with the United Nations and the World Bank, will include French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Union chief Ursula Von der Leyen.

Trudeau Frustrated By Slow Vaccines Rollout

In this file photo Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on January 9, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada. Dave Chan / AFP
In this file photo Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on January 9, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada. Dave Chan / AFP

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday in his first address of the new year that he was “frustrated” by the slow pace of COVID-19 inoculations across Canada, three weeks into a vaccination campaign.

The Canadian government has so far distributed 424,500 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — the only ones authorized to date in Canada — to its provinces and territories responsible for the vaccination program, according to official figures.

But only about 148,000 doses of vaccine have been administered so far, according to local media.

“I think all Canadians, including me are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms,” Trudeau told a news conference.

Trudeau is scheduled to speak Thursday with provincial and territorial leaders to discuss “how the federal government can support and help in getting these vaccines more quickly to Canadians,” he said.

The ultimate goal, he said, was to “get vaccines to every Canadians who wants them by September.”

Canada has placed orders and secured options for more than 400 million doses of vaccines from seven pharmaceutical firms, for its population of 38 million.

The pace of infections has accelerated since the Christmas holidays, with more than 5,600 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 617,065 and more than 16,000 deaths.

Quebec, one of the hardest-hit provinces, reportedly plans to impose a new lockdown starting on Saturday, on the heels of strict measures ordered last month to slow the spread of the COVID-19 illness.

According to the daily La Presse, citing unnamed government sources, Quebec public health officials who are concerned hospitals may be overwhelmed are also pressing for a curfew.

Canada Reports First Cases Of COVID-19 Variant

 In this file photo taken on March 17, 2020 health care workers speak with patients at a drive-thru Covid-19 assessment center in London, Ontario.  Geoff Robins / AFP
In this file photo taken on March 17, 2020 health care workers speak with patients at a drive-thru Covid-19 assessment center in London, Ontario. Geoff Robins / AFP

 

The first two cases of a particularly infectious coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain have been confirmed in Canada, health authorities said Saturday.

“The cases are a couple from Durham with no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts,” Barbara Yaffe, acting chief medical officer for Ontario, said in a statement.

The couple have been placed in isolation, according to the statement, the same day that Ontario reimposed a lockdown for several weeks due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in the province since early December.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his country would prolong its suspension of passenger flights from the UK until January 6 in light of the coronavirus strain sweeping Britain.

The discovery of two cases in Ontario “further reinforces the need for Ontarians to stay home as much as possible and continue to follow all public health advice, including the provincewide shutdown measures beginning today,” said Yaffe.

The lockdown in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province at some 14 million residents, will last 28 days in the south of the region and 14 days in the north.

Private indoor gatherings outside the family circle are banned. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, will be allowed to remain open, but restaurants will be limited to take-out or delivery service.

As of Saturday, Canada had recorded more than 534,000 cases of Covid-19 with more than 14,700 deaths.

 

AFP

Canada Extends UK Flight Suspension Until Jan 6

In this file photo Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 situation in Canada from his residence March 23, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada. Credit: AFP
In this file photo Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 situation in Canada from his residence March 23, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada.

 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his country would prolong its suspension of passenger flights from the UK until early January in light of a new fast-spreading coronavirus strain sweeping Britain.

The North American nation is among dozens to have imposed travel restrictions as Britain, already one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, grapples with the novel strain.

“Today, I can announce that we will extend this temporary suspension of passenger flights from the UK to Canada for another two weeks until January 6, so we can prevent this new variant of Covid-19 from spreading in Canada,” Trudeau said during a press conference.

Canada had already halted the entry of commercial and passenger flights from Britain for 72 hours from midnight Sunday.

The new strain of the virus, whose discovery set off alarm bells worldwide, appears to spread more easily than other types but experts say there is no evidence it is more lethal or resistant to vaccines.

Canada meanwhile became the second country to green light the Moderna vaccine Wednesday, just two weeks after it authorized immunizations with the Pfizer/BioNTech shot.

The country began vaccinating people in high-risk categories — including frontline health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities — on December 14, with its relatively limited supply of the Pfizer vaccine.

Spread of the coronavirus accelerated in Canada as the holiday season approached, with the country having now recorded more than 523,000 cases and nearly 14,500 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Canada, Britain Sign Interim Deal To Avoid Tariff Increase After Brexit

(Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP)

 

Canada and Britain have signed a temporary agreement to avoid an increase in tariffs between the two countries after the British exit from the European Union in early 2021, Ottawa said Tuesday.

At the end of November, the two countries announced they had concluded a provisional post-Brexit trade agreement that would reflect, as of January 1, the terms of the deal that Britain benefited from as a member state of the EU.

But the agreement could not be ratified before the Canadian parliament went into its winter recess, which would have resulted in an automatic increase in tariffs between the two countries on January 1.

The temporary deal allows tariffs between the two countries to remain at current levels until the new trade deal is passed in parliament, a foreign ministry statement said.

With the interim agreement, the Canadian government “is making sure businesses can easily continue trading without adding paperwork for businesses and importers,” it said in a statement.

“These measures will ensure stability and certainty on both sides of the Atlantic,” it added.

Bilateral trade with Britain was worth Can$29 billion (18.5 billion euros) in 2019, according to official government figures. Britain is the main market for Canadian exports to Europe.

Canada Approves Design Changes To Boeing 737 MAX

(FILES) In this file photo the Boeing logo is pictured at its Renton Factory, where the Boeing 737 MAX airliners are built in Renton, Washington on April 20, 2020. . (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP)

 

Canada said Thursday it has approved design changes that Boeing made to 737 MAX planes after two fatal crashes led to the aircraft being grounded for more than a year.

But Canada added the plane was not yet cleared to fly again in its airspace, even though the jet has been certified to do so by regulators in the US.

The Canadian transport ministry said this validation of the design changes after the crashes that killed 346 people in 2018 and 2019 “is an important first step in the eventual return to service of this aircraft in Canadian airspace.

“However, the return to service is complex, and Transport Canada must put in place comprehensive safety plans that require additional aircraft changes, maintenance and training,” it said.

The ministry said that in January it will issue an airworthiness directive spelling out design changes that must be incorporated in 737 MAX planes registered in Canada.

It will also mandate training requirements for crews operating these planes.

Last week the Brazilian airline Gol became the first in the world to put the 737 MAX back into service.

 

Pandemic Making Canada’s Opioids Crisis Worse

 

The coronavirus pandemic is having a troubling knock-on effect on Canada’s opioid crisis, with drug-related deaths up sharply in the spring, a government report said Wednesday.

Canada’s special intragovernmental advisory committee on the opioids epidemic said 1,628 people died of opioids overdoses from April to June, up 58 percent from the previous quarter.

It was the highest total number of opioid-related deaths in any one quarter since national statistics were first compiled in 2016.

“Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak in Canada, we were seeing early and promising signs that opioid toxicity deaths were beginning to decline in some areas of the country,” committee leaders said.

“The national data released today offers insight into the severe and worsening impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the overdose crisis,” they added.

Experts said opioid users were facing increased risk because of the pandemic, which has sparked increased unemployment and homelessness as housing costs soar.

“We must act now to change these troubling projections. We must renew our collective efforts across the country.”

In the first half of 2020, approximately half of all opioid-related deaths also involved the use of a stimulant, such as cocaine or methamphetamine.

“Unfortunately, updated projections released today by the Public Health Agency of Canada suggest that these numbers may remain high in the coming months,” the committee said.

From January 2016 to June 2020, more than 17,600 people have died in Canada as a results of the opioids crisis, data showed.

Faced with the spiralling epidemic, the Canadian government recently created a Can$300 million (US$235 million) emergency fund to help bolster provincial health systems to treat those in need.

Canada, US Border To Stay Closed Until January 21

(FILES) The longest international border in the world, between Canada and the United States, will remain closed until January 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on December 11, 2020. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP)

 

The longest international border in the world, between Canada and the United States, will remain closed until January 21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday.

“Canada and the United States agreed today to keep our shared border closed until January 21,” Trudeau told a news conference.

The border was initially closed in March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The closure has been renewed monthly since then. Only trade in goods and merchandise and essential travel are allowed.

A second wave of Covid-19 infections in Canada — with a total of nearly 450,000 cases reported as of Friday — has forced several regions to reintroduce pandemic measures.

The United States is the worst-affected country in the world, with almost 300,000 deaths from 15.7 million cases.

The border between the US and Mexico will also remain shut until the same date, said Chad Wolf, the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security, on Twitter.

“In order to continue to prevent the spread of COVID, the US, Mexico, & Canada will extend the restrictions on non-essential travel through Jan. 21. We are working closely with Mexico & Canada to keep essential trade & travel open while also protecting our citizens from the virus,” he tweeted.

Fact-Check: Did Canadian Prime Minister Sign Executive Order Granting Special E-Visas For Nigerians?

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 20, 2017 RCMP officers speaks with migrants as they prepare to cross the US/Canada border illegally near Hemmingford, Quebec. Geoff Robins / AFP

 

Multiple posts shared hundreds of times on Facebook claim Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed an executive order allowing Nigerian professionals a limited period in which to apply for extended “E-visas”.

This is false; the Nigerian High Commission in Canada has denied the claim, and AFP Fact Check found that a picture published with the posts was from an entirely different event.

One post shared more than 500 times since December 7, 2020, and archived here, claims that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had signed an executive order stating that “qualified citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in some special professions are eligible for 10 years Canada E-Visa (sic).”
It further claims that “the terms of the Executive Order allows ONLY 6,000 citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria taking effects from the 21st day of September, 2020 till 30th Day of December, 2020 (sic)”, implying a limited period for applications.

In addition, the post lists purported requirements for potential applicants and ends with the apparent sanction of Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, Adeyinka Asekun, dated September 21, 2020.

Yet the Facebook page responsible for the post and calling itself “Nigerian High Commission – Ottawa, Canada” was only created on December 5, 2020, more than two months after the stated window period for applications purportedly opened.

Three images were included in the post, one of them showing what appears to be a signing ceremony. The others show the Nigerian passport and a generic “welcome to Canada” sign.

Both the post and the page which published it resemble an earlier online hoax claiming the US had opened an E-visa programme for Liberians and Kenyans, debunked here by AFP Fact Check.

Trudeau did not sign executive order on E-visas

Likewise, the claim that Canada established an E-visa programme for qualifying Nigerians is a fabrication.

Firstly, there is no online record of Trudeau signing any executive order on migration or electronic visas.

Then, the first of the images posted alongside the false claim shows Kaycee Madu, a Nigerian-born Canadian who was appointed Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of the Canadian province of Alberta in August 2020. The picture had nothing to do with Trudeau signing an executive order — the prime minister was not even at the ceremony for Madu.
Finally, there is no official mention of the purported executive order on the Nigerian High Commission’s website in Canada. Instead, there are links to its social media channels where the claim has been rejected as false.

An example is this video on its official Twitter account where High Commissioner Adeyinka Asekun dismisses the claim and highlights irregularities in the post.

“There are a number of telltale signs on this particular scheme that a discerning person would have picked up on,” he said, pointing out that the post referenced a “consular-general” but that “there is no such person”.

“If such a thing were to take place, it would be so big, so major that it will be both on our website and the IRCC [Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada] website, and there probably would be an authentic press release,” Asekun added. “People seem to be a little too willing to want to believe this thing, which is absolutely false and fraudulent.”

AFP Fact Check previously debunked a similar claim on migration after Facebook posts alleged that Trudeau had begged Nigeria to send a million immigrants.

Official migration programmes between the two countries already exist and would not require an executive order.

The Canadian Federal Skilled Worker programme, a part of the country’s express entry programme, which allows people with sought-after skills or work experience to immigrate to Canada, is very popular in Nigeria.

In 2019, Canada admitted 8,423 Nigerians into the North American country through its express entry programme, the second-highest admission, just after India.