Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced an immediate ban on military-grade assault weapons, responding to a mass shooting and arson spree that left 22 people dead earlier this month.
“These weapons were designed for one purpose, and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau told a news briefing.
He said his government has approved a decree banning the sale, purchase, use, transport and import of 1,500 models of military-grade assault weapons and variants of them.
“There is no use, and no place for such weapons in Canada,” Trudeau said.
The killing spree, the worst in Canadian history, began on the night of April 18 in Nova Scotia and led to a 13-hour manhunt for the shooter, who was eventually shot dead by police.
Authorities have said the assailant – identified as 51-year-old denturist Gabriel Wortman – was wearing a police uniform, driving a mock police car, and had several guns with him including at least one assault-style weapon.
Trudeau said there will be a two-year amnesty for people who currently own assault-style weapons to protect them from liability, and parliament will eventually pass legislation to compensate them for turning in their guns.
“For many families, including indigenous people, firearms are part of traditions passed down through generations, and the vast majority of gun owners use them safely, responsibly, and in accordance with the law, whether it be for work, sports shooting for collecting or for hunting,” Trudeau said.
“But you don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer,” he added.
Mass shootings are less common in Canada than in the US “but the heartbreaking truth is, they’re happening more often than they once did,” the prime minister said.
He mentioned for instance, a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017 that left six dead and 19 wounded.
Trudeau made banning assault weapons part of his campaign for elections that brought him to power in 2015. He repeated it in the campaign for the October 2019 elections in which he won another term.
Nearly four of five Canadians back such a ban, according to an Angus Reid poll released Friday.
The Canadian government said Friday that one million KN95 masks imported from China did not meet its strict standards and so could not be distributed to frontline health workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Public Health Agency of Canada “has identified approximately one million KN95 masks as non-compliant with specifications for healthcare settings,” a spokesman told AFP.
“These items were not distributed to provinces and territories for frontline health care response, and are being subsequently assessed for use in non-healthcare settings,” he said.
Chinese model KN95 masks are similar to N95 masks, as well as the FFP2 model used in Europe.
“Much of the world’s supply is manufactured in China and moving materials out of that country is highly complex,” said Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand.
The relationship between Ottawa and Beijing has been on the rocks ever since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, in December 2018 in Vancouver.
Millions of other respirators and N95 masks are currently being scrutinized by the agency, Anand said.
Meanwhile domestic production of masks and other medical supplies “is ramping up,” with contracts signed with three more Canadian companies this week to produce 16 million “medical face shields.”
General Motors said in a statement it would start producing one million masks per month for the Canadian government at its Oshawa assembly plant, which had been shuttered in December 2019.
The head of its union, Jerry Dias, said he was “thrilled” that 50 employees “will be recalled” to make the masks. Some 2,000 auto workers lost their jobs when the plant was closed.
In early April, Canada received deliveries of more than 10 million masks and announced total orders for more than 60 million more N95 masks.
He added that “If you’ve lost your job – whether you worked full time, on contract, or were self-employed – you qualify for the benefit.
“If you lost income because you’re sick or quarantined, if you’re looking after someone who’s sick, or if you’re home taking care of the kids – you qualify. And if you’re still employed but not receiving income because of COVID-19 – you qualify too. We won’t leave anyone behind”.
Canada lawmakers recently passed the coronavirus aid package after an all-night session
The lawmakers on Wednesday morning approved a more than Can$100 billion aid package to help individuals and businesses through the pandemic, after all-night negotiations on what emergency powers to grant the minority government.
Following approval by the House of Commons, they were adopted by the Senate.
The total aid package of Can$107 billion will allow for a new emergency fund that will dispense Can$2,000 per month for four months to Canadian workers who find themselves without an income due to the new coronavirus.
Nearly one million have been laid off following temporary closure orders given to many businesses in an effort to slow the virus’s spread.
The government expects to enact the emergency measure from April 6, according to Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
He said he was pleased with obtaining “unanimous consent with the other parties to move forward” with the response plan.
To respect “social distancing” measures during the pandemic, only 32 members of Parliament, proportionally representing each party instead of the full 338, had gathered in Ottawa for a vote Tuesday on the emergency measures.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife announced they were self-isolating Thursday as she undergoes tests for the new coronavirus after returning from a speaking engagement with “mild flu-like symptoms”
Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau’s symptoms have subsided since she got back from Britain on Wednesday, but as a precaution the prime minister “will spend the day in briefings, phone calls and virtual meetings from home,” according to a statement.
Trudeau also cancelled a meeting with Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders in Ottawa.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signalled on Tuesday his government’s readiness to help Canadian businesses weather the novel coronavirus epidemic, if necessary.
No specific measures were announced, however, while his office told AFP the potential impact is still being assessed and a response drawn up.
“We recognize the very real economic impacts of the coronavirus globally,” Trudeau told a televised news conference in Halifax.
“We are coordinating globally to try and make sure that there is a lesser impact on the global economy,” he said.
“We also recognize that there will be impacts on Canadian businesses, on Canadian entrepreneurs, and we will always look for ways to minimize that impact and perhaps give help where help is needed.”
Trudeau’s comments followed a conference call in which Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his counterparts from G7 leading industrialized nations agreed to use “all appropriate policy tools” to keep the virus epidemic from throttling economic growth.
The disease that began in China has killed more than 3,100 people and infected more than 91,000.
Canada has reported only 29 cases as of Tuesday morning, in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec provinces.
Trudeau said the risk of the virus spreading in Canada was relatively low.
“I think the numbers so far bear it out,” he said. “But we of course will continue to monitor (the situation) very, very closely.”
Earlier, the US Federal Reserve announced an emergency rate cut in response to the growing economic risk posed by the epidemic.
The Bank of Canada had been widely expected to maintain its key lending rate at 1.75 percent until at least April.
But after the US move, analysts said the Canadian central bank would likely follow suit at its next meeting on Wednesday, marking its first rate cut since July 2015.
Government data released last week showed the Canadian economy (GDP) slowed in 2019 to 1.6 percent, from 2.0 percent in 2018. The central bank has projected growth to remain at 1.6 percent this year.
Ottawa confirmed Saturday that a group of Canadians had been detained in Ethiopia after a humanitarian organization reported that 15 volunteers and workers, including 13 Canadian nationals, had been apprehended.
Global Affairs Canada, the foreign ministry, said it had “raised this case directly with the government of Ethiopia and officials are in contact with local authorities to gather further information.”
The charity, Canadian Humanitarian, said that the 15 detained individuals were medical professional volunteers, general volunteers, and staff members.
Mother of Toju Davies Daibo, the young man who was reported to have jumped into the Lagos Lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge last Saturday, February 15, 2020, has asked the authorities to help bring back her son.
Mr Toju Davies Daibo, allegedly jumped into the lagoon from the bridge inward Adeniji Adele, after alighting from an Uber, complaining of stomach issues.
Mrs Daibo told Channels Television in an exclusive interview that it has been five days since the story broke and she is appealing to the government to help find her son.
According to her, Toju has no history of depression or drug use; he had just finished studying quantity survey from the University of Lagos and was looking forward to his NYSC and then his master’s degree studies in Canada.
She appealed to the government to find her son and provide answers as to what happened to him.
The Daibos also called for any information from security agencies so they can have some closure on the incident.
Coming to the end of a painful restructuring, Canada’s top manufacturer Bombardier, still heavily indebted, faces the prospect of selling off major divisions just to stay afloat.
For weeks, rumours have weighed on investors in the Montreal-based company that it was in talks to sell its rail division to France’s Alstom or another competitor, and its business jet line to American conglomerate Textron.
On January 16, Bombardier announced it was “actively pursuing alternatives that would allow us to accelerate our debt paydown,” while again revising downward its preliminary 2019 revenues.
The company also said it would reassess its joint venture with Airbus, after selling in 2018 a majority stake in its CSeries jetliner to the world’s largest airliner manufacturer (which renamed it A220).
The firm, controlled by heirs of the company’s founder and inventor of the snowmobile in the 1940s, owes more than US$9 billion to creditors.
More than 20 percent of the debt will come due next year, the rest in 2025. Mehran Ebrahimi, an aeronautics specialist at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), told AFP the sale of a division was “inevitable.”
Bombardier’s “ambitions were greater than its means,” echoed Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon, agreeing that a selloff was in the cards.
The Airbus Canada Limited Partnership (ACLP) requires additional cash investments to ramp up production, pushing out its “break-even timeline,” Bombardier said.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault has promised to “do everything” to safeguard 14,000 Bombardier jobs in the Canadian province but has ruled out another multibillion dollar investment in the A220.
It’s a difficult decision politically, since Bombardier supports a cluster of aeronautics suppliers that employ another 40,000 in Quebec.
The Quebec government owns 16.36 percent of ACLP and 30 percent of Bombardier Transportation (rail division).
Michel Nadeau, director of the Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations in Montreal, suggested that sales of Bombardier’s Global 7500 business jets “that cater to billionaires” are more cyclical than its trains, but also very lucrative.
Rather, he said, Bombardier Transportation — because it is based in Berlin and employs only 1,500 people in Quebec — would be an easier sell politically.
Trains, however, represent two-thirds of the company’s order book and are “strategically poised to grow,” according to Fitzgibbon.
Regulatory authorities might also reject an Alstom-Bombardier merger.
Head-to-head with giants
Over the past decade, Bombardier invested “colossal sums” to develop three new aircraft: the CSeries, and business jets Global 7500 and Learjet 85, noted Ebrahimi.
The CSeries was the first new design in the 100- to 150-seat category of single-aisle aircraft in more than 25 years, and was to go head-to-head against giants Airbus and Boeing.
It was to be an extension of Bombardier’s regional aircraft program that had been very profitable in the 1990s.
But after Boeing successfully petitioned President Donald Trump’s administration to impose financial penalties on Bombardier to keep it from selling its CSeries planes in the massive US market, the Canadian company turned to Airbus to make use of Airbus’s manufacturing heft and international reach for sales.
Its Learjet 85 program, meanwhile, was discontinued after losing US$2 billion.
Today, 90 percent of Bombardier’s debt can be traced back to those two aircraft programs, said Fitzgibbon.
A natural progression of its aircraft business at the time, the strategic decision to embark on the CSeries proved to be costly, said Nadeau.
“Bombardier never should have tried to compete with Boeing and Airbus,” he said.
“It was a very serious strategic error,” concurred Ebrahimi.
Chief executive Alain Bellemare has acknowledged that the company came close to bankruptcy in recent years, before he launched a major restructuring in 2015, slashing thousands of jobs yet barely touching its debt.
More recently, the company’s rail division has struggled to get new trains delivered on time in Canada and Europe.
Bombardier’s future will be revealed when it releases its annual financial results on Thursday.
But Nadeau lamented, “We’ve been promised a light at the end of the tunnel for five years, that the company would rebound. We were never told it would be sold off piecemeal.”
President Muhammadu Buhari On Sunday held a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Capital.
The meeting held on the sidelines of the 33rd African Union Summit.
According to a statement from Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, the President expressed his desire to strengthen bilateral ties with Canada.
In remarks before the press, President Buhari underscored the warm and friendly relations between Nigeria and Canada, noting commonwealth membership of both nations and the choice of Canada for higher education by Nigerian students.
‘‘We have a lot of students in Canada. We are aware of our vital roles to keep the country together. We are eager to expand trade because you are one of the ‘biggest customers’, of Nigeria’s crude oil.
‘‘But the most important and enduring relations with Canada is education,’’ President Buhari said.
In his remarks, the Canadian Prime Minister described President Buhari as ‘‘a leader in Africa’’, adding that it was a pleasure to engage on regional and international issues.
‘‘Your leadership and reflection on the current situation challenging Africa but also the potentials and opportunities are something that I am very much looking up to.
‘‘Canada and Nigeria have a long-standing and deep connection and friendship, and I very much look forward to hearing your perspectives on many big issues facing not just Africa but the world’’ Trudeau said.
A plane bringing home the first Canadians from Wuhan, epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, landed Friday at a Canadian military base where they will be quarantined.
The government-chartered jetliner landed at Trenton air force base east of Toronto at around 6:30 am (11:30 am GMT), after a refuelling stopover in Vancouver. It carried 174 passengers, said Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.
Another American plane with 39 Canadians on board also landed in Vancouver, he said. Those passengers were to take a connecting government flight to Trenton later in the day.
Several countries including the United States and France have already repatriated their citizens from Wuhan.
Canada’s airlift took longer to be approved by Chinese authorities.
The group of Canadians, permanent residents and a handful of Chinese nationals with visas who accompanied Canadian minors on the flight will remain at the Trenton base for 14 days, the incubation period for the illness.
None of the passengers showed signs of infection, Health Minister Patty Hajdu told public broadcaster CBC, but if they do they will be sent to a hospital for care.
She said the evacuees have been under a “tremendous amount of stress,” noting some were separated from their children or had to leave others behind.
“Although the passengers won’t be interacting with each other, there will be opportunities for them to leave their room” at the Canadian base, she said.
Passengers told local media that most slept through the long flight.
Champagne had said Thursday that two-thirds of the Canadians who sought assistance getting out of Wuhan were expected to return on the two flights.
At last count, 347 Canadians asked to be evacuated.
Another Canadian airlift has been scheduled to depart Wuhan on February 10 and arrive the following day.
Despite tense ties on other issues, Ottawa has commended China for its cooperation during the outbreak. Beijing also singled out Canada for praise for not closing its borders to travellers from China.
Sino-Canadian relations soured in December 2018 over Canada’s arrest on a US warrant of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and Beijing’s detention on espionage suspicions of two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — in apparent retaliation.
Canada’s ambassador to China Dominic Barton told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that both sides were “very angry” over the tit-for-tat detentions.
“The first conversation I had there was probably one of the most unpleasant conversations I’ve ever had. I mean the shaking and anger,” he said.
The two nations’ foreign ministers also held their first conversation in more than a year recently, to coordinate the airlift, signalling hope of a thaw in relations.
Five cases of coronavirus have so far been confirmed in Canada, and two more suspected cases have been reported.