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Disaster

Aid shipment to Afghanistan cancelled due to anti-terrorist law

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Ottawa – Two containers of food bound for Afghanistan have been cancelled by a Canadian aid agency because of a law banning any dealings with the Taliban.

World Vision says it has been forced to cancel a large shipment of “therapeutic food,” which it said could have fed around 1,800 children.

Canada passed a law in 2013 listing the Taliban as a terrorist organization and listing penalties of up to 10 years in prison if Canadians directly or indirectly provide them with property or finances.

Aid agencies working in Afghanistan complain the law, in its current form, is impeding their work because they cannot help anyone who may have official dealings with what is now the Afghan government, including those paying rent or taxes.

A spokeswoman for International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan says he is working with the departments of Public Safety and Justice to look at “necessary changes” to the law help the Afghan people.

But he has stressed previously that the government has no plans to remove the Taliban from its list of terrorist organizations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 8, 2022.

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Disaster

Newfoundland fishers face livelihood questions after Fiona storm damage

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By Holly McKenzie-Sutter in Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou

Colourful fishing stages bobbed in the water by Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou Tuesday as Cliff Bateman watched from his property.

Days earlier, the picturesque buildings that are used to land and process fish were upright before post-tropical storm Fiona swept them into the ocean by the southwestern Newfoundland town.

Bateman watched the storm toss them through the water.

“It’s a big loss, I tell you that,” he said from inside his kitchen. The now-retired fisherman said he stored a priceless accumulation of gear and history inside the structures that were passed down through his family, some built over 100 years ago.

“You work all your life for it, and in an hour, everything gone.”

Fiona’s path of destruction through Atlantic Canada heavily damaged the fishing industry and communities along Newfoundland’s southwestern coast have not been spared. Fishers and property owners are awaiting word about possible government assistance and are left wondering whether it will be enough to fill the gaps.

In Burnt Islands, about a 20-minute drive west from Rose Blanche, Troy Hardy stepped off his boat Tuesday to look over the scene. Fishing stages by the community harbour were badly damaged, destroying people’s workstations and spilling their equipment into the sea.

Some people, like Hardy, had less severe losses, but of the roughly nine fishers in the community, he said “it’s safe to say every one of them was affected in some way.”

“Everybody’s livelihood is greatly impacted by what happened, to the point where you’re just trying to look around and see how you’re going to make it work for the upcoming season,” Hardy said.

On top of personal gear, a building shared between fishers for their work and storage of their catches was badly damaged, Hardy said. He expects people will be scrambling to salvage and source equipment before next spring’s seasons.

“It’s a big impact for the fish harvesters, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s very worrisome.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.

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Atlantic

After the storm: residents of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec survey damage

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day after post-tropical storm Fiona left a trail of destruction through Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec, residents of a coastal town in western Newfoundland continued to pick through wreckage strewn across their community, easily the most damaged area in the region.

Photos posted on Sunday from Port aux Basques show homes and outbuildings smashed or submerged on the shoreline, the result of a record-breaking storm surge that swamped a residential neighbourhood.

Police received reports that two women had been swept into the ocean as their homes collapsed early Saturday. One woman was rescued by local residents, but the status of the second woman remained unclear.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston was expected to survey some of the hardest hit areas of Cape Breton, where Fiona’s wrath left many homes badly damaged.

Despite downed trees and widespread power outages, some Cape Breton residents decided to carry on with milestone events Sunday.

Samantha Murphy, 35, said she was going to proceed with her wedding at a church in downtown Sydney, followed by a reception meal  prepared by a caterer with a generator.

Sitting in a hotel lobby with her three bridesmaids, she was wrapping floral arrangements and waiting for her hairdresser to arrive as she contemplated Fiona’s unwelcome visit.

“I think it’s going to be more romantic with candlelight,” she said in an interview. “We’re going back to when there was no power. Our family is around and let’s celebrate our love.”

Murphy said she was determined to proceed with her wedding on Sunday after the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to cancel her previous plans.

On the north shore of Prince Edward Island, another area ravaged by Fiona, lobster buyer Leigh Misener pointed to what was once his office on the Covehead Wharf.

On Sunday morning, it lay upside down about three kilometres away on a front lawn.

“That’s our building,” Misener said with a laugh. “Stop by anytime.”

Despite his wry humour, he said it was heartbreaking to see the destruction. The wharf is now an ugly vision of smashed buildings and upturned soil, as if an earthquake shook the place. Where the buildings once stood now lies a foundation littered with weights used for lobster traps and an anchor sitting in the rubble.

“The whole wharf’s gone,” Misener said. “Everyone’s going to hurt from it.”

Judy Profitt, who lives a few kilometres away on Brackley Beach, pointed to the Covehead Bridge and a now absent landmark — a small dune that once stood next to the bridge.

“It’s my favorite dune, but it’s just been sheared off,” Profitt said, her voice breaking with emotion.

“I had taken a picture of that dune. After my husband died, (it was) laser-etched on his tombstone. To look at that dune now, it’s just such a sad sight.”

In eastern Quebec, officials were heading to the storm-battered island chain of Îles-de-la-Madeleine, where high winds and storm surges caused flooding and road closures.

Provincial Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault confirmed that 30 and 40 people were forced to leave their homes, but no one was hurt.

“We’re going into recovery mode,” she told reporters in Quebec City.

Guilbault said one of two underwater telecommunication cables linking the islands with the mainland — dubbed COGIM 1 — was  damaged by Fiona, but she said the other remained intact.

Guilbault said the Quebec government has worked hard to lessen the impact of storms that have worsened with climate change, saying millions of dollars have been invested in slowing coastal erosion.

“As it’s an island, the problem is fairly chronic around the island and in eastern Quebec in general,” she said.

As for Fiona, the big storm moved into southeastern Quebec on Sunday, with Environment Canada saying it will continue to weaken as it tracks across southeastern Labrador and over the Labrador Sea.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2022.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

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