Police ready to evict Ottawa protesters, vaccine exemptions : In The News for Feb. 17
Published February 17, 2022 at 4:15 am
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 17 …
What we are watching in Canada …
Ottawa’s interim police chief says officers will clear the streets of people who oppose the government and COVID-19 restrictions in the next few days, warning they are ready to use methods people are not used to seeing in the capital.
Steve Bell made the promise to Ottawa city council at a virtual meeting yesterday after taking on the interim role following the abrupt resignation Tuesday of former chief Peter Sloly.
Police have handed out notices to protesters encamped outside Parliament Hill that warn the Emergencies Act gives them the power to seize vehicles that are part of the nearly three-week-long demonstration and ban people from travelling within a certain area.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino tabled motions last evening in the House of Commons on the specific powers in the act, and the invoking of the act itself.
The motion is to be debated today, while the Senate must also pass separate motions on the specific powers in the act.
The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois say they will not support the motion, but NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh signalled his party will hold up the minority Liberals, calling the situation a crisis.
The Liberal government has characterized the blockades at the borders and in Ottawa as being connected by a highly co-ordinated, targeted and partly foreign-funded criminal attack on Canadian interests.
Also this …
Unvaccinated truckers bringing COVID-19 vaccines and medical devices into Canada to combat the pandemic are exempt from testing and quarantine requirements at the border.
Health Canada says the exemption is due to the “urgent public health necessity” of the supplies they are transporting.
The exemption is outlined in a federal order-in-council that makes clear that unvaccinated truckers crossing the border are not exempt from quarantine and testing requirements in other circumstances.
The restrictions on unvaccinated cross-border truckers have caused much political debate in Canada and are ostensibly a major sticking point for the protesters camped outside Parliament Hill.
But the government has given exemptions from testing and quarantine rules for certain people entering Canada to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The exemptions include unvaccinated and vaccinated people invited by the health minister to help with the COVID-19 response.
Health Canada says in a statement that this exemption needs a ministerial invitation and has been “rarely used.”
Plus this …
Experts say the use and symbolism of Canada’s flag at recent protests in Ottawa and at several border crossings comes at a moment of reflection for Canadians.
Carmen Celestini, a post-doctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University in B.C., says the sight of the Maple Leaf, hung upside down on a truck or used as a cape, has been jarring for many people.
However, she says Canadians had already paused to think about the symbolism of the flag after the discovery of what are believed to be 215 unmarked graves of children at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
For the truckers, she says the Maple Leaf is a symbol of freedom.
Phil Triadafilopoulos, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto, says he finds it disrespectful when the flag is flown upside down.
He says it worries him that the shared symbol is being appropriated by some groups to advance a narrow agenda.
But he also says that the flag is important for many Canadians and will likely continue to serve as a common symbol that unites more than it divides.
And also this …
Canada has added to its medal count at the Beijing Olympics, with a gold in women’s hockey and a silver in women’s ski cross.
Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice, Sarah Nurse added one more and goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens made 38 saves in the 3-2 win over the United States on Thursday.
Hilary Knight scored a short-handed goal for the U.S.
It is a triumphant return to the top of the podium for Canada, after losing to the Americans 3-2 in a shootout for gold four years ago in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which snapped a run of four straight Olympic titles by Canadian women.
Marielle Thompson from Whistler, B.C. made a late push in the big women’s ski cross final to finish with a silver medal behind Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund, who led the race from wire to wire.
Switzerland’s Fanny Smith appeared to win the bronze medal, but she was disqualified after a lengthy post-race review. Germany’s Daniela Maier was awarded the bronze following Smith’s disqualification.
It’s the second Olympic medal for Thompson, who won ski cross gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
What we are watching in the U.S. …
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. _ Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives early Thursday approved a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, moving to tighten access to the procedure ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could limit abortion rights in America.
The GOP-controlled House passed the 15-week abortion ban after several hours of debate between Democrats who said the measure would impose an unnecessary burden on women and Republicans who said they were protecting the unborn.
“This is the right to life and to give up life is unconscionable to me,” said Republican Rep. Dana Trabulsy, who disclosed that she previously had an abortion but has “regretted it everyday since.”
Republicans in several state legislatures are moving to place new restrictions on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court signalled it would uphold a Mississippi law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks and potentially overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. A decision in that case is expected later this year.
GOP lawmakers in Arizona and West Virginia this week advanced their own 15-week abortion bans and Republicans in other states are modelling legislation after a law in Texas which effectively banned abortions after six weeks.
Florida’s bill contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury to the mother or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. The state currently allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Republicans have repeatedly rejected attempts from Democrats to add additional exceptions in the bill for pregnancies caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.
“As a woman it is my right to make decisions about my body and what is in the best interest of my family,” said Rep. Robin Bartleman, a Democrat. “God forbid your 11 year old is raped and pregnant and you find out after 15 weeks, you don’t get to get your daughter that abortion, that’s what this law says.”
What we are watching in the rest of the world …
KYIV, Ukraine _ As Ukrainians waved flags in a show of defiance of a feared Russian invasion, the United States reported that Moscow had added as many as 7,000 troops to forces stationed along the tense border _ a warning that contradicted Kremlin declarations that military units were being pulled back.
A Russian invasion of Ukraine did not materialize Wednesday, as originally feared. But after a handful of positive signals from Moscow that eased tensions earlier in the week, the pendulum appeared to swing in the opposite direction again.
Western allies maintained that the threat of an attack was strong, with an estimated 150,000-plus Russian troops surrounding the country on three sides.
At the heart of the crisis are Russia’s demands that the West keep Ukraine and other former Soviet nations out of NATO, halt weapons deployments near Russian borders and roll back forces from eastern Europe. The U.S. and its allies have roundly rejected those demands, but they offered to engage in talks with Russia on ways to bolster security in Europe.
Though Russia has said it is pulling back some troops, a senior U.S. administration official said some forces arrived only recently and that there had been a marked increase in false claims by Russians that the Kremlin might use as pretext for an invasion. The official said those claims included reports of unmarked graves of civilians allegedly killed by Ukrainian forces, assertions that the U.S. and Ukraine are developing biological or chemical weapons, and claims that the West is funnelling in guerrillas to kill Ukrainians.
“We haven’t seen a pullback,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told ABC News. Russian President Vladimir Putin “can pull the trigger. He can pull it today. He can pull it tomorrow. He can pull it next week. The forces are there if he wants to renew aggression against Ukraine.”
Asked why Russians would claim to be withdrawing when government intelligence, commercial satellite photos and social media videos showed no evidence of that, State Department spokesman Ned Price said: “This is the Russian playbook, to paint a picture publicly while they do the opposite.”
Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite imagery company that has been monitoring the Russian buildup, reported that new photos show heightened Russian military activity near Ukraine, including the construction of a pontoon bridge in Belarus less than six kilometres from the Ukrainian border.
On this day in 1877 …
The first news dispatch was sent by telephone. The story about a lecture and phone demonstration by Alexander Graham Bell appeared the next day in the Boston Globe.
In entertainment …
ORLANDO, Fla. _ A judge in Florida on Wednesday agreed with a request from the family of comedian Bob Saget and temporarily prohibited the release of any photos, video or other records related to the investigation into his death, saying that doing so would cause them irreparable harm.
Saget’s wife, Kelly Rizzo, and his three daughters filed a lawsuit the previous day in Orlando, Florida, asking the state judge for a ruling that would prohibit the release of any records from the local medical examiner’s office and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office involving the probe into Saget’s death.
Circuit Judge Vincent Chiu issued the temporary injunction, saying that Saget’s family would suffer “severe mental pain, anguish, and emotional distress” if the request wasn’t granted. He said the injunction was in the public’s interest as he decides whether the family’s privacy concerns outweigh any claims for the records to be released.
Saget, 65, was found dead Jan. 9 in a room at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando. He had performed in the area the night before as part of a standup tour.
The medical examiner said last week that Saget had died from an accidental blow to the head, likely from a backwards fall. An autopsy report showed that Saget had an abrasion on his scalp, a fracture at the base of his skull, fractures around his eye sockets, bleeding between the brain and tissue covering the brain as well as bruises to the brain. A toxicology analysis didn’t show any illicit drugs or toxins in Saget’s body.
During the course of the autopsy and death investigation, the medical examiner’s office and sheriff’s office created graphic videos and photos of Saget’s body, as well as audio recordings. Such records are prohibited by state law from being released publicly, but some media outlets have already filed requests for them, according to the family’s lawsuit.
“Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm in the form of extreme mental pain, anguish, and emotional distress if Defendants release the Records in response to public records requests or otherwise disseminate the records for any other reason or purpose,” their complaint said.
Saget was best known for his role as beloved single dad Danny Tanner on the sitcom “Full House” and as the wisecracking host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” He was buried in Los Angeles.
OTTAWA _ Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney and Amazon Prime are “the new big players” and should contribute more to Canadian culture.
In a debate Wednesday in the House of Commons about a bill to regulate online streaming, Rodriguez said updating the broadcasting law is long overdue and needs to cover commercial content on social media and streaming platforms.
He said the last time the law was updated in 1991, people took out videos from Blockbuster and listened to Walkmans.
The new law would regulate online streaming platforms as well as traditional Canadian broadcasters which already have an obligation to provide Canadian content.
Rodriguez said he wants to see the creation of more Canadian programs to promote homegrown talent, such as CBC’s “Schitt’s Creek” and “Anne with an E,” which also streamed on Netflix.
But he said he is “flexible” about how streaming platforms contribute to Canadian culture, and they could use different models including putting money into a fund.
He said Canada has incredible talent and wants to see streaming services invest more in Canadian film, TV and music.
“Our system must also pave the way for new and upcoming Canadian artists,” he said, adding Indigenous, disabled and racialized Canadians, as well as people from the LGBTQ community, “deserve to have space to tell their stories.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2022
The Canadian Pressinsauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising