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Celina Caesar-Chavannes quits Liberal caucus, sits as independent MP

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  • OTTAWA — Celina Caesar-Chavannes has informed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that she’s leaving the federal Liberal caucus and will sit as an independent MP.

    The Whitby, Ont., MP has been a vocal supporter of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott — two cabinet ministers who resigned over the SNC-Lavalin affair.

    She also accused Trudeau earlier this month of reacting with anger and hostility when she informed him that she would not be seeking re-election this fall.

    Caesar-Chavannes, first elected in 2015, has been a relatively high-profile backbencher, primarily as an advocate for the rights of black Canadians.

    She also made news in 2016 when she openly talked about her battle with depression.

    At the time, Caesar-Chavannes, who was initially named parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, praised Trudeau’s understanding of mental illness but she has since soured on his leadership.

    The Canadian Press


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    Quebec calls for military assistance as province braces for heavy flooding

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  • MONTREAL — The federal government is heeding Quebec’s request for its assistance — including help from the Canadian Forces — as many parts of province brace for heavy flooding this weekend.

    While the risk level hasn’t changed in recent days, authorities now expect the brunt of flooding will begin on Sunday and last longer than expected, Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault told a news conference in Quebec City on Friday.

    Guilbault made the formal request for federal help earlier in the day as residents across the province scrambled to protect their homes. Officials in several communities say the flooding could be even worse than the record flooding of 2017 that forced thousands from their homes.

    Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed in a tweet that assistance would be provided, not long after he and Guilbault spoke.

    “The provincial government is requesting federal assistance to combat flooding. Federal reply is, of course, yes,” he wrote.

    Guilbault said Canadian Forces brass are discussing with provincial officials where to deploy resources and that she spoke directly with Brig.-Gen. Jennie Carignan earlier Friday.

    “My only priority is the safety of citizens,” Guilbault said. “I will spare no effort over the next few days to ensure the safety of citizens.”

    The province will also allow stores — usually closed on Easter Sunday — to remain open this weekend so that residents can stock up on any supplies they need.

    Water levels are already quite high and are expected to rise sharply with warm temperatures, snowmelt runoff and the heavy rainfall in the forecast.

    Across Quebec, municipalities have been preparing sandbags and reinforcing homes as the rain is expected to intensify in the coming hours.

    “Today is an important day, we’re predicting we’ll reach the water levels reached in 2017 in the next 24 hours and even exceed it,” said Ginette Bellemare, the acting mayor of Trois-Rivieres, Que., about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City. “For our citizens, it’s a race against time. They must mobilize and protect their property.”

    Thomas Blanchet, a spokesman for the province’s public safety department, said residents should be ready for a sharp spike in water levels that could come quickly, and implored them to follow the instructions of local officials.

    Blanchet says while there are no official evacuation orders currently in the province, some municipalities have issued preventative orders, such as Rigaud and Pointe-Fortune in southwestern Quebec.

    Meanwhile in Saint-Raymond-de-Portneuf, about 60-kilometres northwest of the provincial capital, seniors have been moved to higher ground as the Ste-Anne River levels continue to rise.

    “With the forecast that we have, we will have heavy rainfall over the corridor from Outaouais to the Lower Saint Lawrence,” Blanchet said. “They have a high risk of flood right now with the precipitation that’s announced and the warm temperature that will increase the snowmelt.”

    Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press




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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit Canada next weekend, April 27-28

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  • OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, when the latter visits Canada next weekend.

    Abe and Trudeau’s two-day meeting on April 27 and 28 will centre on the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka in late June, as well strengthening ties between the two countries.

    Trudeau’s office says in a statement the two will also discuss the revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which the PMO says has created opportunities in both countries.

    The Canadian and Japanese leaders are expected to address the media after holding their bilateral meeting.

    The pair most recently spoke at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting in Papua, New Guinea, last November.

    Abe’s upcoming visit to Canada is part of a week-long trip to Europe and North America that includes stops in the United States, France, Italy, Slovakia and Belgium, as Japan prepares to play host to the G20.

    The Canadian Press


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