OTTAWA — Health Canada has approved a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster for use in children ages five to 11, which targets the original strain of the coronavirus and more recent variants.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Mendicino: foreign-agent registry would need equity lens, could be part of ‘tool box’
By Dylan Robertson in Ottawa
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says a registry to track foreign agents operating in Canada can only be implemented in lockstep with diverse communities.
“There is a historical context when it comes to some communities within this country and their relationship with [security] agencies and the law-enforcement community,” Mendicino told the House committee on Canada-China relations Monday evening.
“We need agencies to be inclusive, diverse, culturally sensitive.”
Two months ago, the Liberals said they will eventually consult the public on the possible creation of a foreign agent registry, to prevent outside interference in Canadian affairs.
But the government has yet to formally launch that consultation.
The United States and Australia have public registries that require people advocating for a foreign state to register their activities, under penalty of fines or jail time.
Mendicino told the committee that Ottawa has to be careful to not isolate communities who have felt under the microscope of security agencies. He also told reporters after his testimony that Ottawa is taking the idea to its own advisory panels before soliciting public input.
“I wouldn’t describe it as a hesitation; I think we need to be diligent and thoughtful and inclusive, when it comes to bringing all Canadians along in the modernization of the tools and the arsenal that we create for our national security and intelligence communities,” he told the committee.
Mendicino also told MPs a foreign agent registry alone would not drastically alter Canada’s ability to detect and confront national-security threats, and would only be launched as part of “a tool box” of other measures.
“While there is attention to looking at each of the examples of tools we might consult on, including the foreign-agent registry, I would discourage the members of this committee from quickly concluding that any one of these in isolation will work by itself,” he said.
Conservative public-safety critic Raquel Dancho accused the Liberals of stalling on launching a registry.
“Anything that is stopping it would just be an excuse at this point. I think any government that’s operating through legitimate diplomatic relations in Canada should welcome an official registry,” she said in an interview between witness testimony.
“That should be sort of the cost of doing business in Canada through diplomatic relations.”
Mendicino appeared at the committee based on a request last October from MPs to have senior officials testify on three allegedly illegal police stations operating in the Greater Toronto Area.
Since then, advocates for Chinese democracy have alleged China is running two other police stations in Canada, including one in Vancouver.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told MPs that Mounties are only aware of four alleged police stations and that officers have attended the scene in uniforms to gather information and be seen.
She believes that has yielded tips from the public, and noted that at least one of the apparent police stations seemed to have operated in the backroom of a commercial business.
Lucki noted that no one has been charged in connection with these so-called police stations, and suggested the public would be informed if that was the case.
Similarly, Mendicino said the public would be made aware if any diplomats had been ordered to leave Canada in relation to the issue.
Yet NDP foreign-affairs critic Heather McPherson questioned how police are handling tips from communities who allege they’re being targeted by foreign countries.
The Edmonton MP said constituents who are Uyghur or originating from Hong Kong have reported being passed between the RCMP, local police and an RCMP-run hotline, and that local police seem unaware how to handle the reports.
“We’re hearing a very different story form people who are living in these communities,” McPherson said.
More officials will testify Monday night from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and Public Safety Canada.
The evening meeting follows the appearance of a Chinese balloon that drifted over Canadian territory before it was spotted over the skies of Montana, leading opposition parties to ask why Ottawa didn’t alert Canadians earlier.
Last November, the federal Liberals unveiled their Indo-Pacific strategy, which calls for stronger ties with countries other than China to counterbalance Beijing’s approach to human rights and trade.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2023.
Survivors scream as desperate rescuers work in Turkey, Syria
By Mehmet Guzel And Zeynep Bilginsoy in Adana
ADANA, Turkey (AP) — Rescuers called out, “Slowly, slowly,” as they lifted a man inch by inch from between slabs of collapsed concrete Monday in the Turkish province that was the epicenter of a devastating earthquake.
His neck in a brace, the barefoot man was carried on a stretcher as he emerged. Rescuers in Pazarcik in the province of Kahramanmaras held him aloft and ran off with him.
It was among numerous rescue efforts that unfolded as darkness, rain and cold enveloped the region of Turkey and Syria that was rocked by a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Hours later, a 7.5 magnitude temblor struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. At least 3,400 people were killed, and civilians joined rescuers in desperate efforts across Turkey and Syria.
“Can anyone hear me?” rescuers shouted. In some places around southeast Turkey, survivors could be heard screaming from beneath collapsed buildings.
People crouched to look below a massive sheet of concrete propped at an angle by steel bars. They crawled in and out, trying to reach survivors. Excavating equipment dug through the rubble below.
Elsewhere in Kahramanmaras province, rescuers pulled two children alive from the rubble. One lay on a stretcher on the snowy ground. Rescuers quieted the throngs of people trying to help so they could hear survivors and find them.
Some emerged safely then waited to hear any word on relatives.
“My two grandchildren, my daughter-in-law, are all inside. They haven’t come out,” said Hasan Birbalta while waiting near a collapsed building in Pazarcik, adding the granddaughter is 2 and the grandson is 6.
Thousands of search-and-rescue personnel, firefighters and medics were working across 10 provinces, along with some 3,500 soldiers. Residents lifted rubble and unearthed people heard screaming from beneath buildings. Aftershocks made rescue efforts more dangerous.
In Adana, about 20 people, some in emergency rescue jackets, used power saws atop the concrete mountain of a collapsed building to carve out space that would let any survivors climb out or be rescued. Later, excavators joined the efforts as bright spotlights illuminated the wreckage.
Turkish military ambulance planes were transporting the injured to Istanbul and Ankara hospitals, the defense ministry said. Rescuers from across Turkey tried to make it to the provinces amid heavy snow and rain.
At a news conference late Monday, four ministers said that because Hatay’s airport had been severely damaged, they had to fly into Adana nearly three hours away.
In Syria, a man held a dead girl in his arms beside a two-story collapsed concrete building as he walked away from the debris. He and a woman set the girl on the floor under covering to protect her from the rain, wrapping her in a large blanket and looking back to the building, overwhelmed.
An official with Turkey’s disaster management authority said 7,840 people had been rescued across 10 provinces. The official, Orhan Tatar, said 5,606 buildings had collapsed.
Tatar said the total area affected was large and places were hard to reach, but that as of late Monday, teams had been directed to all collapsed buildings.
Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul. Associated Press writer Carley Petesch in Chicago contributed.
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