Submersible went missing during descent to Titanic on SundayAuthorities sweep surface and depths for vesselTitanic lies at about 3,810 metersRescuers were scouring thousands of square miles in the remote North Atlantic for a third day on Tuesday, racing against time to find a missing submersible after it disappeared while taking wealthy tourists to see the wreckage of the Titanic in deep waters off Canada's coast.The 21-foot Titan has the capacity to stay underwater for 96 hours, according to its specifications - giving the five people aboard until Thursday morning before air runs out. One pilot and four passengers were inside the submersible early on Sunday when it lost communication with a ship on the surface about an hour and 45 minutes into its dive.The Titanic site is about 1,450 km east of Cape Cod and 644 km south of St. John's, Newfoundland. U.S. and Canadian aircraft have searched more than 7,600 square miles, larger than the state of Connecticut, Captain Jamie Frederick told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.The Canadian military has dropped sonar buoys to listen for any sounds that might be coming from the Titan, with no results thus far. A commercial vessel with an unmanned vehicle capable of deep dives was also searching near the site, Frederick said."There is a full-court press effort to get equipment on scene as quickly as we can," he said.Those aboard the submersible, the highlight of a tourist expedition that costs $250,000 per person, included British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, and Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, with his 19-year-old son Suleman, who are both British citizens.The 77-year-old French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Stockton Rush, founder and CEO of the vessel's U.S.-based operating company OceanGate Expeditions, were also reported to be on board. Authorities have not confirmed the identity of any passenger.Rescuers face significant obstacles both in finding the Titan and in saving the people aboard, according to experts.If the submersible experienced a mid-dive emergency, the pilot would likely have released weights to float back to the surface, according to Alistair Greig, a professor of marine engineering at University College London. But absent communication, locating a van-sized submersible in the vast Atlantic could prove challenging, he said.The submersible is sealed with bolts from the outside, which means the occupants cannot escape without assistance even if it surfaces.If the Titan is on the ocean floor, a rescue effort would be even more challenging due to the extreme conditions more than two miles below the surface. The Titanic lies 3,810 meters underwater, where light does not penetrate. Only specialized equipment can reach those depths without getting crushed by the massive water pressure."It's really a bit like being an astronaut going into space," said Tim Matlin, a Titanic expert. "I think if it's on the seabed, there are so few submarines that are capable of going that deep. And so, therefore, I think it was going to be almost impossible to effect a sub-to-sub rescue."U.S. President Joe Biden is "watching events closely," White House national security adviser John Kirby said on Tuesday, adding that the U.S. Navy is on standby to help if needed.OceanGate said it was "mobilizing all options," and US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger told NBC News the company is helping to guide the search efforts."They know that site better than anybody else," Mauger said. "We're working very closely with them to prioritize our underwater search efforts and get equipment there."OceanGate schedules five week-long "missions" to the Titanic each summer, according to its website.David Pogue, a CBS reporter, dove on board the Titan last year. In a December news report, he read aloud the waiver he had to sign, which noted the submersible had "not been approved or certified by any regulatory body" and could result in death.In an interview on Tuesday, Pogue said OceanGate has successfully gone down to the wreck around two dozen times and that the company does a meticulous safety check before each attempt."They treat this thing like a space launch," he said.Harding, a UAE-based businessman and adventurer who is chairman of Action Aviation, posted a message on Facebook on Saturday, saying: "This mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023."Fellow tourist Dawood is vice chairman of Engro, one of Pakistan's largest conglomerates, with investments ranging from fertilisers and energy to vehicle manufacturing.The sinking of the Titanic, which killed more than 1,500 people, has been immortalized in books and films, including the 1997 blockbuster movie "Titanic" that renewed popular interest in the wreck.
The US Supreme Court will allow the public to hear arguments in person for the first time in about 2-1/2 years following a closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Justice John Roberts said, according to media reports. The court’s nine justices — all of whom have been vaccinated against Covid-19 — will begin hearing a new round of cases when the court’s next term kicks off on Oct 3.Roberts announced the public reopening while speaking at the 10th Circuit Bench and Bar Conference in Colorado Springs, CNN and local media outlet Colorado Politics reported. Court spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment. No members of the public have been allowed in the white marble court building across the street from the US Capitol since pandemic-related curbs were implemented in March 2020, even as the rest of official Washington relaxed restrictions months ago. The Capitol began a phased reopening for visitors and tourists in March while the White House reopened a month later. The court further walled itself off from the public in May after the leak of a draft opinion showing that the court’s conservative bloc was set to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalised abortion nationwide. It erected an 8-foot (2.44-metre) tall security fence amid concern about protests that followed the publication of the leaked opinion. The ruling was made the following month. The fence was removed in August. After the start of the pandemic, the court changed the way it operated. In May 2020, it began hearing oral arguments by teleconference, instead of in person, with a live audio feed provided to the public for the first time. Justices resumed in-person oral arguments in October 2021. They were joined in a sparsely populated courtroom by lawyers, court staff and journalists, but members of the public were still not permitted. The tenor of oral arguments also changed, with some of the prior free-for-all questioning of arguing attorneys replaced by more orderly justice-by-justice questioning. Justice Clarence Thomas, who famously almost never spoke during arguments in the past, became a vocal presence on the bench using the new format, regularly asking questions. The court’s new term promises to be momentous, as was its prior term. Fresh off landmark decisions ending the recognition of a constitutional right to abortion and embracing a constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self-defence, the justices will decide several contentious cases involving race. One of them includes a bid to end affirmative action policies used by colleges and universities to increase their numbers of Black and Hispanic students.
Canada proclaimed Charles its king yesterday in a formal ceremony at the official residence in Ottawa of the governor-general, the monarch’s representative in Canada who performs the duties of the head of state on behalf of the crown. Earlier, an Accession Council met at St James’s Palace in London to proclaim Charles sovereign. The ceremonies are protocol and formalise the change in head of state. Charles, 73, automatically became king of the United Kingdom and the head of state of 14 other realms, including Canada, when his mother, Queen Elizabeth, died on Thursday at age 96. Canada announced a 10-day mourning period for the queen. Although Canada ceased being a colony of Britain in 1867, it remained in the British Empire until 1982, and is still a member of the Commonwealth of former empire countries that have the British monarch as head of state. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor-General Mary Simon signed an order in council proclaiming the new sovereign after a Cabinet meeting. Trumpets then announced the exit of Canada’s chief herald from the residence. He read the order in council proclaiming the new monarch to the public in both English and French, ending with, “Long live the King!” The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute and the armed forces band playing “God Save the King.”
Canada is suspending random Covid tests at airports until the end of June in a bid to reduce chronic delays to travelers in recent weeks, the government said Friday. The tests will be put on hold from Saturday and will resume "off site" on July 1, according to a government statement. "We continue to work with airports, airlines, baggage handlers, and other partners to implement solutions to reduce delays as we approach the summer peak season," it said. Numerous aviation officials have spoken out against the tests in recent weeks, saying they have worsened wait times at airports, already hit by understaffing. In Toronto, as in Montreal, it takes several hours for passengers to leave the airport. A nationwide labor shortage has worsened recently and is affecting all sectors. Many passengers have taken to social media in recent days to complain about being stuck in their planes after landing before being allowed to disembark, but also about long queues when checking their baggage. The country's main airline, Air Canada, has admitted to being hit by these problems. Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told the media that "extended delays in security and customs," had recently forced airlines to cancel some flights. The government has promised to continue to hire screening officers at airports. The statement Friday said 865 people have joined the ranks of air transport security since April.
Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada’s largest airport as she forges ahead with a career that has included being a city mayor for 36 years and playing professional hockey. Her tenacity earned her the nickname “Hurricane Hazel.” “I don’t know how it came about (that) they call me ‘Hurricane Hazel,’” she said in an interview with AFP at a Mississauga, Ontario exhibit celebrating her life, adding with a boisterous laugh: “I know I move quickly.” And nothing seems to stop her. Throughout her long life, she says she followed the mantra: work hard and be prepared. “Hard work never killed anybody, my mother told me that,” she said. “If you want to go anywhere you have to work hard.” Born in 1921, in Port Daniel, Quebec, Hazel is the youngest of five children. Her father worked in the fishing industry while her mother was a nurse. She left the family farm at age 16 to continue her education, before taking up secretarial work during the Second World War at a Montreal engineering firm. She also played on a professional women’s hockey team for two seasons, losing two teeth while earning Can$5 (US$4) per match, which she described as “a princely sum in those days.” In 1951, she married Sam McCallion with whom she had three children. “She wasn’t always there, but she was there when she needed to be,” recalled her son Peter McCallion, describing her as a “wonderful” grandmother to her only granddaughter. Inspired by former Ottawa mayor Charlotte Whitton — the first female mayor of a major Canadian city — and Margaret Thatcher, she entered politics in the 1960s. In 1978, she won the mayoralty of Mississauga on the shores of Lake Ontario, neighbouring Toronto — helped at the polls by her refusal to be baited by her opponent’s sexist remarks during the campaign. Today, she spurns questions on gender and politics. “It has not been difficult at all. I have been supported by men both in business and in politics,” she said, adding that she’s been “fortunate.” McCallion has left an indelible mark on Mississauga, which has dramatically changed over the past decades as it grew to become Canada’s seventh largest city. She had been in office only a few months when a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in a populated area of the city, and erupted in flames. McCallion gained a national profile for managing the mass evacuation of 220,000 residents, in which nobody died or was seriously injured. “To live a happy life you have to be very positive and you have to feel that you’re contributing. You can’t think of ‘me’ all the time,” she says, explaining her commitment to public service. She would be re-elected 11 more times to lead the city of Mississauga, making her one of Canada’s longest serving mayors. According to Tom Urbaniak, author of a book on Mississauga under her watch, her longevity in politics is due to her strong personality and accessibility, but also “her down-to-Earth populism” and outspokenness. “Hazel McCallion leans towards conservatism but she is extremely pragmatic,” said the Cape Breton University professor, who noted her support for political parties of all stripes. The self-described “builder” was voted most popular mayor, before retiring three years later at age 93. A stamp collector, McCallion says she enjoys gardening and making videos for charitable causes, and keeps up with the news, wearing a yellow and blue ribbon on her lapel to show support for Ukraine at war. “I’ve lived one hundred years and I’ve never felt so negative about what is happening in the world today,” she laments. “It’s very disturbing.”
Canada is talking to a number of companies interested in setting up production in the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain, the industry minister said, as the government seeks to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and play a role in the shift toward greener cars. There are “very active discussions with a number of players” to develop an EV supply chain, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in an interview last week. Champagne did not name the companies, only saying he spoke to representatives of Volkswagen last week, and has recently talked to executives from companies in the United States, Japan and Korea. Canada is urging critical minerals producers and processors to scale up production. It has invested in EV projects through a multi-billion dollar fund set up in 2020, and last month pledged C$3.8bn ($3bn) over eight years to help boost the production and processing of critical minerals used for EVs. Canada and the United States want all sales of passenger vehicles to be zero emissions by 2035. In March, Stellantis, the parent of Jeep and Chrysler, said it would build an EV battery JV with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution in Windsor, across the border from Detroit, which Champagne called a “watershed moment.” The government has met with industry players to establish a strategy it hopes will make Canadian minerals, like lithium, cobalt and nickel, key to EV production in North America, according to chief executives in the sector and the minister. The plan will be completed this year, government sources said without providing details. It could not happen fast enough. Electric carmakers Rivian Automotive Inc and Tesla this year warned of future battery supply constraints due to a lack of raw materials. Canadian critical mineral miners like Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc, Nemaska Lithium Inc, Electra Battery Materials Corp, and Avalon Advanced Materials Inc want to meet the demand. Nouveau Monde aims to scale up its production of graphite-based anode material to 45,000 tonnes per year by 2025, according to a spokeswoman. Nemaska is focusing on construction of its Whabouchi lithium mine in Quebec and a conversion plant, with the aim of producing about 34,000 tonnes per year, CEO Spiro Pippos said. Electra is expanding a refinery for battery-grade cobalt and nickel sulfate in Temiskaming Shores, Ontario, and aims to produce materials needed for lithium-ion batteries by 2025, according to CEO Trent Mell. Avalon, which plans to refine lithium in partnership with a unit of India’s Essar Group in Thunder Bay, Ontario, said support from different levels of government was key. “What we’ve needed all along is to show the potential end-users in the manufacturing space that the province is willing to help create the supply chains on the critical materials they need in their technologies,” Avalon CEO Donald Bubar said. But BHP Group Ltd, the world’s largest listed miner that moved its copper and nickel exploration offices to Toronto last year, needs help to meet emissions targets in order to deliver critical minerals. “When I look at Canada, I think net zero by 2050 is fantastic, but I’ve got a bigger challenge,” Rag Udd, BHP’s president of Minerals Americas, said on Monday in Toronto. “How do we get those (low-emission) power sources? How do we work with the provinces to actually induce that?” William Adams, head of battery materials research at British commodities price reporting group Fastmarkets, has been warning of mineral shortages if production is not scaled up. “Canada is blessed... It’s got nickel, it’s got cobalt, and it’s got lithium,” Adams said. “But like everywhere else, it needs a lot more investment in all these projects.” A charging port is seen on a Mercedes Benz EQC 400 4Matic electric vehicle at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday announced a first round of economic sanctions on Russia a day after Moscow recognised the Ukraine separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent. The United States, the European Union, Germany and Britain also announced ways they will punish Russia financially as they fear a further incursion is to come, a move Moscow has consistently denied for months. The Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk broke away from Ukrainian government control in 2014 and proclaimed themselves independent "people's republics" after a pro-Moscow Ukrainian president was ousted in Kyiv. Trudeau said his government will ban Canadians from all financial dealings with the so-called "independent states" of Luhansk and Donetsk. Canada will also ban Canadians from engaging in purchases of Russian sovereign debt, he added. The Canadian prime minister said his government will sanction members of the Russian parliament who voted for the decision to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent. Canada will apply additional sanctions on two state-backed Russian banks and prevent any financial dealings with them, Trudeau said. Trudeau also said he was authorising additional troops to the region. "So today, I am also authorizing the deployment of up to 460 members of the Canadian Armed Forces to Operation Reassurance. This involves more troops to Latvia, as well as the deployment of an additional frigate and maritime patrol aircraft," he said. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian troops into eastern Ukraine, saying they were there to "keep the peace." Trudeau described the step as "a clear incursion of Ukraine’s sovereignty." "Make no mistake: this is a further invasion of a sovereign state and it is absolutely unacceptable," he said, adding it was "not too late" for Russia to seek a diplomatic resolution. Weeks of intense diplomacy have so far failed as Moscow calls for security guarantees, including a promise that its neighbour Ukraine will never join NATO.
Canadian police smashed yesterday the windows of vehicles abandoned in the downtown core of the capital to search and tow them away, and city workers cleaned up trash after two days of stand-offs and 191 arrests ended a three-week occupation of Ottawa. Demonstrators had used hundreds of trucks and vehicles to block the city centre since January 28, prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke rarely used emergency powers. Fifty-seven vehicles had been towed by midday, police said. The streets of Canada’s capital were quiet for the first time in three weeks after a massive police operation ended a drawn-out siege over coronavirus (Covid-19) health rules. The last few protesters stayed late into Saturday night, singing 80s protest anthems and setting off fireworks at a 4m-high (13’) security fence erected around the parliamentary precinct. However, the last gasp protest-turned-street-party fizzled as a deep freeze gripped the city. Police were manning checkpoints in the morning yesterday, restricting access to a 500-acre downtown area, while a sizeable force remained on standby to defend the ground reclaimed from the truckers. An AFP journalist saw only a handful of protesters in the area, testing the perimeter. Ottawa police issued a reminder that the core area remains off-limits except to local residents and workers. Police tweeted midmorning that two people had just been arrested – and a total of 191 since police moved in on Friday. Meanwhile, crews took down the last tents, food stands and other makeshift structures erected by demonstrators, and cleared heaps of snow from streets in preparation for a reopening of local businesses. And for the first time in weeks, Ottawa residents were not startled awake by the incessant honking that had become a staple of the protests. One resident said that he felt relief. “We seem to have gotten over the hump,” Ottawa resident Tim Abray told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). However, the communications consultant said the political division will not go away so easily. Refusing to admit defeat after being dislodged, many protesters told AFP that they would keep pressing their cause. The few stragglers yesterday began packing up a logistics depot the so-called “Freedom Convoy” set up in a parking lot near the highway to supply the protesters camped several kilometres away in front of parliament. “We were running support for the convoy and the people in the downtown core – food, fuel, basic necessities,” said Winton Marchant, a retired firefighter from Windsor, Ontario. “This was the base camp and we are cleaning up.” Although pandemic health rules in Canada have eased as case numbers trend downward, protesters have vowed to press for a full lifting of restrictions, which have been among the world’s strictest. Trudeau’s government is meanwhile facing a lawsuit from a civil liberties group and pushback from political rivals over the decision to invoke rarely-used emergency powers to crack down on the unlawful protests. This is despite polls showing Canadians, once sympathetic to the trucker-led movement, have turned against them. Trudeau himself kept his distance as the police operation unfolded, refraining from public comment. The convoy began a month ago as a protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccines to cross the US border. It has inspired copycats in other countries, with Washington girding for a possible trucker protest to coincide with next week’s State of the Union address. The Canada convoy triggered economically damaging blockades at the US border, which police cleared a week ago. Dozens there were arrested, including at least three protest leaders, while C$32mn in donations and bank accounts linked to the trucker movement were frozen. Protesters who were filmed by police and have since left the city will be held to account, Ottawa’s Interim Chief of Police Steve Bell said on Saturday. “We will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges ... this investigation will go on for months to come,” the official warned.
Police began towing trucks from central Ottawa yesterday and stepped up arrests of protesters in a bid to end a trucker-led movement that has blockaded Canada’s capital for three weeks and embarrassed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government. The protesters have lined up heavy trucks outside parliament and Trudeau’s office, and Ottawa police, fearing escalation or violence, had sought to disperse them with fines and threats of possible arrest. However, with dozens of trucks still occupying the downtown, police on Thursday arrested two of the movement’s leaders. An AFP journalist saw several demonstrators led away in handcuffs as police and tow trucks moved in. Yesterday, after a night of heavy snow, officers set up 100 road blocks near the protest site to deny people access and starve it of new supplies, like food and fuel. “You must leave. You must cease further unlawful activity and immediately remove your vehicle and/or property from all unlawful protest sites. Anyone within the unlawful protest site may be arrested,” Ottawa Police wrote on Twitter. Police said they had arrested 15 protesters and towed four vehicles, including what a Reuters photographer said was an 18-wheeler truck. Hundreds of police lined up in front of protesters near parliament, slowly advancing towards them and making arrests. Some protesters kneeled in front of police with their arms linked. Others pushed back at police as they advanced, with the occasional scuffle breaking out. One man yelled “freedom” as police arrested him and led him away. The protesters initially wanted an end to cross-border coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine mandates for truck drivers but the blockade gradually turned into an anti-government and anti-Trudeau demonstration. They have vowed to remain peaceful but say they will stand their ground until police physically remove them. “If they want to arrest me, I’ll put my hands out, and they can twist-tie me up like everybody else here. We’re going peaceful,” said Mark, a protester from Nova Scotia who would not give his last name. Nearby, protesters inside a tent were frying eggs on a portable stove, with no apparent plans to leave. Police, who have deployed hundreds of officers – some on horseback – to central Ottawa, say it will take days to clear the protests. At least one military-style armoured vehicle was seen in downtown Ottawa. While most of the officers are not armed, some carried weapons, including at least one equipped with a gun. Police said protesters had “put children between police operations and the unlawful protest site”, adding: “The children will be brought to a place of safety.” Reuters did not witness any protesters putting children near police sites. Trudeau on Monday invoked emergency powers to give his government wider authority to stop the protests. Legislators had been due to debate those temporary powers yesterday but the House of Commons suspended its session. “If you are not in the House of Commons precinct, stay away from the downtown core until further notice,” a House of Commons notice said. Trudeau sought the special powers after protesters shut down US border crossings including Ontario’s Ambassador Bridge to Detroit, a choke point for the region’s automakers. The shutdown of the bridge, which was cleared on Sunday, had damaged both countries’ economies and posed a major crisis for Trudeau. As police accelerated work to clear the protesters’ last stronghold, at least a dozen tow trucks were seen preparing to remove trucks and other protest vehicles still parked downtown. Many of the tow trucks had all identification marks removed. Before Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act, police had said some tow truck drivers were afraid to co-operate with authorities, fearing that they might be the target of retaliation. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp., citing security sources, said authorities had set up a number of temporary detention centres around the city, presumably to hold detained protesters.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday said he had sought emergency powers to end protests that blocked border crossings and central Ottawa because the standoff posed an economic threat that was hurting ties with the US. Authorities have promised to clear out hundreds of truckers who have paralysed central Ottawa, an act Trudeau had earlier called a threat to democracy. A video by a CBC reporter showed two buses of police arriving in the central core of Ottawa yesterday morning, although there was no immediate sign of a move to clear protesters. Police started to erect fencing around some government buildings. Trudeau invoked the little-used Emergencies Act on Monday, giving his Liberal government a wide range of additional temporary powers. “The blockades and occupations are illegal. They’re a threat to our economy, the relationship with trading partners, they’re a threat to supply chains and the availability of essential goods like food and medicine,” Trudeau told the House of Commons. While the demonstrators initially protested against cross-border Covid-19 vaccine mandates for truckers and pandemic restrictions, they have made clear their opposition to Trudeau and some say they want to kick him out of office. “I ain’t going anywhere,” one of the protest organisers, Pat King, said. “I haven’t overstayed my welcome. My taxes paid for me to be here.” Local residents have pleaded with the protesters to leave and shortly before the interview, a man shouted at King to go home and pushed him before police separated the two men. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have also sent in officers, and public broadcaster Radio-Canada said the province of Quebec was preparing to provide police.
Canada will ease entry for fully vaccinated international travellers starting on Feb. 28 as Covid-19 cases decline, allowing a rapid antigen test for travellers instead of a molecular one, officials said on Tuesday. Antigen tests are cheaper than a molecular test and can provide results within minutes. The new measures, which include random testing for vaccinated travellers entering Canada, were announced by federal government ministers at a briefing. Canada will monitor conditions with an eye on dropping coronavirus testing requirements for fully vaccinated Canadians who make short trips - less than 72 hours - abroad, usually to the United States, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said. "These changes are possible not only because we have passed the peak of Omicron, but because Canadians across the country have listened to the science and to experts," Duclos told reporters. About 80% of Canadians are fully vaccinated and over 40% have also taken a booster dose, according to the health ministry. The global travel advisory for Canadians is also being changed. Previously the government recommended against all non-essential travel, and now it is only urging citizens to take precautions. "Though today's announcement brings us one step closer to where our industry needs to be, in requiring pre-departure rapid antigen tests, the government missed an opportunity to align with other international jurisdictions that removed pre-departure test requirements for fully vaccinated travellers," the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable industry group said in a statement. Suzanne Acton-Gervais, interim president of the National Airlines Council of Canada, said: "Today's announcement by the federal government is a step forward both for travellers, our industry, and for the Canadian economy, which relies on trade and tourism." Several provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and on Monday Ontario, Canada's most populous province, have announced a relaxation of restrictions imposed during the pandemic as coronavirus infection rates fall. Ontario said it will speed up its plan to remove proof-of-vaccination requirements and lift pandemic-related capacity limits for many businesses, while the western province of Alberta ended its mask requirements for school children on Monday. read more Protesters have blocked border crossings and paralysed the center of Ottawa for weeks asking for governments to roll back pandemic restrictions. read more Provincial premiers have denied loosening restrictions to appease them, saying instead that the limits are no longer needed to contain Covid-19.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to invoke rarely used special measures allowing him to tackle protests that have shut some border crossings and paralysed downtown Ottawa, sources said yesterday. In the Western Canadian province of Alberta yesterday, police broke up an armed group that was prepared to use violence to back a blockade at a border crossing with the United States, authorities said. Trudeau plans to use the 1988 Emergencies Act, which allows the federal government to override the provinces and authorise special temporary measures to ensure security during national emergencies, the sources said. The act has only been used once in peacetime — by Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau — who invoked an earlier version of the act in 1970 after a small militant group of Quebec separatists kidnapped a British diplomat and then abducted a provincial cabinet minister who was killed in captivity. The sources declined to be identified, given the sensitivity of the situation. The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started by Canadian truckers opposing a Covid-19 vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, have turned into a rallying point for people opposing the policies of Trudeau’s government, covering everything from pandemic restrictions to a carbon tax. One of the sources, who could not speak on the record due to the sensitivity of the situation, said the aim of using the emergency powers was to provide federal police support to local and provincial forces, not to use the military. Trudeau had already spoken to the provincial premiers about the plan, the source said.
A standoff between Canadian police and protesters blocking a key bridge to the United States continued yesterday, more than seven hours after authorities moved in seeking to end the blockade of the important trade corridor. Demonstrators opposing the government’s strict pandemic restrictions have occupied the Ambassador Bridge for the fifth straight day, snarling international trade and prompting President Joe Biden to call for an end to the siege. But there was still no sign when traffic would resume. The Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest land border crossing, had no traffic flowing for the fifth straight day by Saturday afternoon. About 15 trucks, cars and vans blocked traffic in both directions, choking the supply chain for Detroit’s carmakers. “We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully,” Windsor Police said in a Twitter post, asking commuters to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations. The police action came more than 12 hours after a court order to ended the blockade came into effect. Police in black uniforms with yellow vests moved behind the protesters’ vehicles and, accompanied by police cruisers, slowly advanced on protesters, pushing them back from the bridge entrance. The number of demonstrators had thinned to roughly two dozen early yesterday from about 200 on Friday night. “We are opening up this intersection to traffic. If you fail to comply with our instructions you will be arrested,” police told the crowd via a loudspeaker. Protesters were seen moving back in a noisy but peaceful retreat, dismantling tents and barbecues. While police have successfully pushed back protesters from the foot of the Ambassador Bridge, many more people were streaming into the area. The “Freedom Convoy” protests, started in the capital Ottawa by Canadian truckers opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border drivers, entered its 16th day yesterday. It has morphed into a wider protest against Covid-19 curbs, with people joining in with smaller vehicles, including cars, vans and pick-up trucks. Ottawa Police said yesterday they were waiting for reinforcements to end the “unlawful occupation.” Ontario Premier Doug declared a state of emergency starting Friday midnight, but demonstrators “exhibited aggressive behaviour towards law enforcement,” police said. Protesters in Ottawa also tore down a fence that had been put around the National War Memorial yesterday. Canadian police have said the protests have been partly funded by US supporters and Ontario froze funds donated via one US platform, GiveSendGo, on Thursday. Toronto-Dominion Bank has frozen two personal bank accounts into which C$1.4mn ($1.1mn) had been deposited in support of the protesters, a spokesperson said yesterday. Protests have spread to three border points: the Ambassador Bridge, strangling trade between the two countries, and two smaller crossings in Alberta and Manitoba. In Canada’s financial capital Toronto, police blocked main roads leading to the central business district, ahead of a planned protest yesterday. Protests were also planned in Fredericton in the province of New Brunswick. Local police said officers were stationed at entrances to the city to ensure traffic can flow freely. A convoy of motorists in the United States is planning to head to the waterfront in Port Huron, Michigan, in support of protesters in Canada. Another US group said two separate vehicle convoys will converge this weekend at the Peace Bridge, another US-Canadian border crossing in Buffalo, New York.
Canada’s Ontario province yesterday declared a state of emergency over trucker-led protests paralysing the capital and disrupting trade with the US, as Premier Doug Ford vowed to do whatever it takes to end the blockades. The capital Ottawa has been clogged with hundreds of big rigs for two weeks, while three border crossings have been shut down by truckers demanding an end to all Covid health restrictions. “We will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the border is reopened,” Ford told a news conference, threatening steep fines of up to Can$100,000 ($80,000) and jail unless protesters end their “illegal occupation.” “To the people of Ottawa under siege, I say we will ensure you’re able to resume life and business as soon as possible.” The vital Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario and the US city of Detroit, is used daily by more than 40,000 commuters and tourists, along with trucks carrying $323mn worth of goods each day on average — about one-quarter of all Canada-US trade. The days-long border obstructions have already had major impact, with several automakers forced to cut back production as a result, triggering fears it could impact Canada’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under mounting pressure to get the situation under control, with Washington calling on its northern neighbour to use federal powers to end the blockades. Ford, who faces elections in June, has likewise been under fire for several days over his inaction to bring an end to the trucker-led disruptions. The snowballing trucker movement has morphed over the past weeks into a broader protest against Covid-19 health restrictions and Trudeau’s government — and sparked solidarity rallies across the nation and abroad. Ford acknowledged that Canadians have the “right to peacefully protest when they disagree with what our government is doing” to stem the pandemic, adding: “I know these frustrations have reached a boiling point for many Canadians.” But he warned: “This is no longer a protest.” Truckers have “taken a city of 1mn people hostage for the past two weeks” and have been “targeting our lifeline for food, fuel and goods across our borders” while “trying to force a political agenda through disruption, intimidation, and chaos.” “We’re in a critical situation worldwide economically...the last thing we need is an anchor around our neck,” he said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lambasted trucker-led protests that have shut down central Ottawa in anger at Covid-19 health rules, as France and New Zealand moved Thursday to stop their own copycat convoys. Police in Canada have threatened to arrest protesters who have joined the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge that links Windsor and the US city of Detroit in solidarity with the two-week-long truckers' protest in the capital. Trudeau told parliament the convoys threaten the country's economic recovery. "Blockades, illegal demonstrations are unacceptable and are negatively impacting businesses and manufacturers," Trudeau said in the House of Commons on Wednesday. "We must do everything to bring them to an end." To the protesters, he said: "You can't end a pandemic with blockades... You need to end it with science. You need to end it with public health measures." Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said US officials were "in very close contact" with Canadian border agencies about the bridge blockade. Psaki also expressed concern about the impact of the protests on the US economy, saying the action "poses a risk to supply chains, to the auto industry." The suspension bridge is a key trade corridor, used daily by more than 40,000 commuters and tourists, and trucks carrying US$323 million worth of goods on average. Several Canadian and American chambers of commerce and industry associations demanded the bridge be cleared. "As our economies emerge from the impacts of the pandemic we cannot allow any group to undermine the cross-border trade," the groups said in a joint statement. - 'Freedom Convoy' - A Canadian court on Monday ordered the truckers to stop incessant honking that has upset residents and made sleep difficult. But the noise is spreading. Similar movements have hatched everywhere from New York to New Zealand. On Thursday, police and anti-vaccine protesters clashed on the grounds of Wellington's parliament, with dozens arrested. In France, thousands of protesters inspired by the Canadian truckers plan to converge Friday evening on Paris, with some aiming to move onwards to Brussels on Monday. Paris police on Thursday moved to prevent the protest from taking place, saying they would ban the so-called "freedom convoys" by deploying to prevent major roads from being blocked and threatening anyone who does so with a hefty fine or jail sentence. The night before, the atmosphere on the streets of downtown Ottawa was one of defiance and celebration. "We're not going anywhere," said trucker John Deelstra, smiling from behind the wheel of his big rig, which has been at the demonstration since day one. Planted not far away, Ontario trucker Lloyd Brubacher offered up the same steely resolve. "I'm not going anywhere," he told AFP, adding that he planned "to fight to the bitter end." Some 400 vehicles are still camped on Parliament Hill below Trudeau's offices, against a backdrop of barbecues, campfires and music. "This is a dramatic situation that is impacting the well-being of Canada's relationship with the United States and impacts immensely how business is able to conduct its operations," University of Ottawa professor Gilles LeVasseur told AFP. - 'Illegal economic blockade' - The so-called Freedom Convoy began last month in western Canada -- launched in anger at requirements that truckers either be vaccinated, or test and isolate, when crossing the US-Canada border. Having snowballed into an occupation of Canada's capital, the protest has sparked solidarity rallies across the nation and abroad. On Wednesday, Ottawa police warned protesters they could face criminal charges and their trucks could be seized if they continue their "unlawful" clogging of downtown streets. Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association president Brian Kingston said the Ambassador Bridge blockade was "threatening fragile supply chains already under pressure due to pandemic-related shortages and backlogs." Officials pointed to 5,000 factory workers in Windsor, Ontario being sent home early Tuesday because of the blockade, and several auto assembly plants preparing to close, as Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens expressed fears about the lasting impact on Canadian businesses. Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Autotrader in Detroit, said North American assembly plants rely on timely parts deliveries across the bridge. The auto sector "is a significant portion of the economy and an important portion of consumer spending" that has been hard hit over the past year, she said. Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino warned of "serious dangers for the economy" and called on protesters to "go home!" "This is an illegal economic blockade... against all Canadians," added Transport Minister Omar Alghabra. Several provinces including Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan this week announced a gradual lifting or loosening of Covid-19 restrictions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to bring an end to a trucker protest still paralysing the Canadian capital - in a movement against Covid restrictions fast becoming a rallying cry for far-right and anti-vaccine groups. Emerging from a week of Covid-19 isolation to address an emergency debate in the House of Commons late Monday, a visibly frustrated Trudeau declared: “It has to stop.” Trudeau’s foreign minister, Melanie Joly, doubled down yesterday morning, warning that while the truckers — whose demonstration is in its second week — have a “right to express themselves,” authorities would not tolerate a continued “occupation” of the capital. “This situation will be dealt with,” she told reporters. Struggling to tame the boisterous trucker movement that has prompted a state of emergency in Ottawa, Trudeau conceded on Monday that the “pandemic has sucked for all Canadians.” “But Canadians know the way to get through it is continuing to listen to science, continuing to lean on each other,” he added, pledging unspecified federal support for local authorities. Federal police have already deployed on the streets of the capital, as demonstrators waving Canadian flags and anti-Trudeau slogans dug in. Under a light snowfall, the truckers warmed themselves by open pit fires and played street hockey. A court on Monday ordered their incessant loud honking to stop — so they have turned instead to revving the engines of their big rigs. The “Freedom Convoy” began in January in western Canada — launched by truckers angry with requirements to either be vaccinated, or to test and isolate, when crossing the US-Canadian border. Protester Martin Desforges, 46, said he was determined to stay “until the end,” which organisers said would come only when all pandemic restrictions are lifted. “I’m against wearing a mask, all distancing measures and restaurant closures,” he said. “Getting vaccinated should be a decision between a person and their doctor,” echoed fellow protester John Hawley-Wight, “not the government.” More than 80% of Canadians five years or older are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Vaccine mandates for travellers are set by the federal government, but most other Covid measures are the responsibility of provincial authorities. Only one province, Saskatchewan, has so far announced an imminent lifting of all pandemic restrictions.
Republicans censured two lawmakers yesterday in a significant escalation of the drive to oust dissidents seen as disloyal to former US president Donald Trump. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the lone Republicans on the House committee investigating Trump’s role in last year’s US Capitol assault, are regarded as adversaries of the former president, who retains his iron grip on the party despite losing the 2020 election. Both voted to impeach Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection after last year’s deadly January 6 Capitol riot. The party’s 168 national committee members, gathered for their winter meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, approved a formal censure accusing the pair of behaviour that is “destructive to the US House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic”. Hardline Trump loyalists have been pushing for months for the two to be expelled, particularly as the investigation into the January 6, 2021 insurrection has closed in on the former president’s inner circle. “Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol,” said erstwhile party grandee and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whose niece Ronna McDaniel runs the Republican National Committee (RNC). “Honour attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost,” he added. Republican Senator Bill Cassidy came to their defence late on Thursday, writing on Twitter: “The RNC is censuring Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger because they are trying to find out what happened on January 6th – HUH?” Democratic National Committee Rapid Response Director Ammar Moussa accused Republicans of having “no low they will not go to, to protect Donald Trump and his chaos”. “They have no vision, no agenda, and are completely subservient to Trump, even if it means undermining our democracy and inciting further violence,” he said. The censure nevertheless passed by an overwhelming voice vote without any discussion, video of the meeting captured by The Hill newspaper showed, as the party officially declared the Capitol assault and events that led to it “legitimate political discourse”. The resolution was not read out, and the whole item of business took about a minute. It said their actions have damaged Republican efforts to win back majorities in Congress. The measure said the RNC will “immediately cease any and all support of them” as party members, but stops short of calling for their ouster from the party, as initially proposed. With Kinzinger retiring from Congress after the November midterm elections, and Cheney in danger of losing her Wyoming seat, the party leadership is said to be keen to put the issue behind them. Republicans are hoping instead to focus on hitting President Joe Biden on his stalled domestic agenda, spiralling inflation and the stubborn pandemic ahead of the midterms. Cheney responded to news of the censure motion by doubling down on her Trump criticism. “The leaders of the Republican Party have made themselves willing hostages to a man who admits that he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon January 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy,” she said in a statement on Thursday. “I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not recognise those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump. History will be their judge,” Cheney added. “I will never stop fighting for our constitutional republic. No matter what.”
Ottawa police have vowed to crack down on an “increasingly dangerous” protest by hundreds of truckers who have shut down the centre of the Canadian capital for eight days to demand an end to coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine mandates. The well-organised blockade – which police say has relied partly on US funding – is unprecedented by Canadian standards. Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said hundreds more truckers were planning to enter the city this weekend. “This remains ... an increasingly volatile and increasingly dangerous demonstration,” he said. Protesters in the downtown core “remain highly organised, well-funded, extremely committed to resisting all attempts to end the demonstration safely”, he added. Sloly, who said he and other top officials had received death threats, likened the protest to the January 6, 2021 riots in Washington when thousands of people stormed the US Capitol in a bid to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory. To the increasing fury of residents, Ottawa police have so far largely stood by and watched as some protesters smashed windows, threatened reporters and abused racial minorities. Sloly said police would put in place a “surge and contain” strategy, including reinforcements of 150 officers deployed downtown, to restore order. “The hatred, the violence, the illegal acts that Ottawa residences and businesses have endured over the last week are unacceptable in any circumstances,” he said. Some demonstrators want an end to a federal Covid-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers while others insist Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau be deposed on the grounds he exceeded his authority by imposing restrictions to clamp down on the pandemic. Blockades are also planned in Toronto and Quebec City. The protest movement is starting to divide the official opposition Conservative Party, which this week ousted its leader amid complaints that he had not sufficiently backed the truckers. Interim Conservative chief Candice Bergen, in an e-mail leaked to the Globe and Mail, said on Monday that “we need to turn this into the PM’s problem”. However, the party’s public safety spokesman, Pierre Paul-Hus, tweeted yesterday that the blockade needed to end. Police have uncovered at least two operations centres in Ottawa, with more across the country, and say demonstrators are receiving professional legal advice. Sloly said police would order some truckers to move and if they refuse, their vehicles will be towed. Officers will also take down licence numbers and check whether drivers are violating the terms of their insurance.
The Canadian government will not use troops against truckers whose nearly week-long protest of vaccine mandates has brought traffic in central Ottawa to a halt, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday. More than 200 trucks and other vehicles have been blockading downtown roads in the nation’s capital since last Friday in what is an unprecedented protest by Canadian standards. Organisers say that drivers plan to hold similar protests in Toronto and Quebec City later this week. Ottawa residents are angry that local police are largely watching the demonstrations rather than moving in to break them up. The city’s police chief on Wednesday indicated guns were being smuggled into the protest and said using the military was an option, but Trudeau dismissed the idea. “There is no question of sending in the army,” he said. Some demonstrators want an end to a federal coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers while others insist that Trudeau be removed from power on the grounds he exceeded his authority. A few people on Ottawa streets have brandished Nazi flags, harassed minorities and threatened reporters. “That is unacceptable. It’s time for these people to go home,” Trudeau told reporters. Ottawa police, who have made just three arrests so far, issued 30 traffic tickets on Wednesday. The truckers are planning protests later this week in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, and Quebec City amid growing frustration about almost two years of restrictions imposed to fight Covid-19. Quebec premier Francois Legault said authorities would not tolerate any mayhem. Quebec mayor Bruno Marchand told a radio station that “there are lessons to be learned from Ottawa”. Trudeau’s Liberals look set to benefit politically from the protests, which have split the official opposition Conservative Party. Legislators ousted leader Erin O’Toole on Wednesday, citing his poor performance in an election defeat last September and his initial, lukewarm support for the protests (see report on this page). Former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and other Parliamentarians later posed with truckers, a move Ottawa mayor Jim Watson branded “an absolute disgrace”. Former Conservative cabinet minister Chris Alexander said he was ashamed by the “disgraceful and inexcusable” acts by some legislators. Trudeau dismissed the idea he be ousted a few months after winning a third consecutive election against the Conservatives. “Having a group of people who disagree with the outcome of an election who want to ... bring in an alternative government is a non-starter in a responsible democracy,” he said. Police have said that most protesters who recently packed the streets of Canada’s capital and jarred locals with loud honking trucks have left, but the stragglers are “determined” and “volatile”. Around 15,000 rowdy protesters converged on Ottawa’s downtown over the weekend, according to a police estimate, bringing the city to a virtual standstill. While their numbers dwindled midweek, they are expected to surge again, possibly into the thousands this weekend, as well as spread to other parts of the country. “Most demonstrators have left. What remains is a highly determined and highly volatile group of unlawful individuals,” Ottawa Deputy Police Chief Trish Ferguson told a briefing. Three people have been charged in relation to the protest, while 25 investigations are ongoing. By Wednesday, after forcing most downtown Ottawa businesses – including a major mall, schools and Covid-19 vaccine clinics – to shutter, the protesters’ numbers had dwindled to a few hundred, and they were mostly contained to the parliamentary precinct. However, a solidarity blockade in the western province of Alberta was flaring up and had clogged Highway 4, a major artery for commercial goods between the nations. Police moved in Tuesday evening to try to dislodge the 100 or so truckers on the Alberta-Montana border, but as a few left, more arrived. “We had three or four vehicles voluntarily just say, ‘Yeah, okay, I’ve had enough and I’m out of here,’ and they began to leave. Then several vehicles ... broke through a checkpoint that we had set up,” RCMP Corporal Curtis Peters told AFP. Some of them, he said, drove tractors and other farm vehicles through fields to get around the police checkpoint. Meanwhile, another protest is reportedly planned for Quebec City in the coming days. The capital’s police chief Peter Sloly said that the authorities “are now aware of a significant element from the United States that have been involved in the funding, the organising and the demonstrating”. “They have converged in our city, and there are plans for more to come,” he said, without providing details. An online GoFundMe campaign has raised more than C$10mn ($8mn) in support of the protests. However, on Wednesday, GoFundMe paused the fundraiser, saying on the “Freedom Convoy 2022” page that it was “under review to ensure it complies with our terms of service and applicable laws and regulations”. In a separate blog post, the platform said it has strict protocols around how funds are used and that it would contact the organiser for the freedom convoy page and also collaborate with local law enforcement. Several US figures, including Donald Trump Jr and Elon Musk, have tweeted their support for the protesters.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Canadians are disgusted by the behaviour of some people protesting against coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine mandates in Ottawa and said he would not be intimidated by those hurling abuse. Dozens of trucks and other vehicles have jammed up central Ottawa since Friday and thousands descended upon Parliament Hill to complain about Trudeau and Covid-19 vaccine mandates. Police said most demonstrators have been peaceful but local residents complain that they are fed up with the non-stop blaring of truck horns and demonstrators using the streets as an open-air toilet. Some also forced a homeless shelter to give them food – the shelter said on Twitter – while others flew Nazi flags. “We are not intimated by those who hurl abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless,” Trudeau told a news conference. “We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags. We won’t cave to those who engage in vandalism ... there is no place in our country for threats, violence, or hatred,” he added. Senior members of the official opposition Conservative Party, which last year lost its third consecutive election to Trudeau’s Liberals, have praised the demonstrators. Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, Trudeau said, “is going to need to reflect very carefully on how he’s walking a path that supports these people who do not represent truckers”. Trudeau earlier announced he had contracted Covid-19 but was feeling fine and would be working from home. Police said that some of the trucks should start leaving today, even as some protesters insisted they would stay. Canada Unity, one of the groups involved, said it wanted to gather 1,000 people to go into a mall and shop unmasked. The Rideau Centre, a large nearby mall, said yesterday that it would be shut for a second day. Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, speaking to reporters, condemned what he called the more extreme behaviour. “My message to the truckers is: you’ve had your protest, you’ve had your rally, time to go back home,” he said. The demonstration started as a protest against a vaccine requirement for cross-border drivers, but then developed into a demonstration against the Trudeau government and its Covid-19 policies. Marian Tudor, who lives in Chilliwack, British Columbia, is an owner-operator of his truck and can no longer haul goods across the border because he is unvaccinated. He was parked in front of parliament with a trailer full of food, suggesting he planned a long stay. Tudor, 61, said he is willing to stay “as long as it takes, until we get these mandates removed for everybody, not only for the truckers”. Tudor accused the government is using “fake science”, adding that Trudeau “better stop his draconian measures, because he stands on the wrong side of the history”. Police said on Friday that they would start towing trucks this week if necessary. However, by late Sunday they said they had avoided ticketing and towing vehicles to avoid provoking confrontations with demonstrators.