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Trudeau travels to G7, NATO as Canada grapples with Islamophobia, residential schools

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has left Canada for a G7 summit as the country is seized by tragedy and demands for justice for Indigenous Peoples and Muslims.

Trudeau is to arrive in Cornwall, U.K., today for a three-day gathering with G7 leaders and then travel to Brussels for a NATO summit, followed by a meeting between Canada and the European Union.

Ending the pandemic, recovering the global economy — including for international travel — and getting vaccines to less wealthy countries dominates the agenda for the G7.

Recently though, Canada’s economic and health responses to COVID-19 have been eclipsed by an outpouring of grief over the targeted killing of a Muslim family, and a First Nation’s discovery of what are believed to be the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school.

Trudeau spoke at a vigil two days ago in London, Ont., for the Afzaal family. Four members of the family died when a man drove a truck into them while they were out for a walk Sunday evening. A nine-year-old boy survived.

The prime minister called it a terrorist attack.

His Liberal government has also faced questions over its lack of progress on a promise to implement the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Canada’s former residential school system.

As well, Trudeau has been urging Pope Francis to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in operating these facilities, where generations of Indigenous children suffered abuse and isolation from their families and culture.

Heading into the G7, Trudeau’s office says besides the pandemic, he will focus on climate change — a major policy plank for his Liberal government — as well as economic growth and co-ordinating approaches to promote gender equality and human rights.

Canada also joins other countries whose finance ministers signed on to a tax reform that would set a global minimum corporate tax of at least 15 per cent, which has drawn criticism from the Opposition Conservatives who say the country should handle tax policy on its own.

Trudeau’s trip marks a few firsts.

It’s his first travel outside of Canada in more than a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the first time all G7 leaders will be in the same room since 2019 — and without former U.S. president Donald Trump.

Current U.S. President Joe Biden will also make his first trip abroad since being elected to the White House last fall to attend the summit, providing the first chance for him and Trudeau to talk face-to-face since he took office.

“This is the most exclusive club in the world,” said John Kirton, director of the G7 Research Group at the University of Toronto.

“Sometimes it’s what I’ve called the lonely hearts club — or group therapy session. Nobody but the fellow leaders of the most powerful democratic countries in the world governing advanced economies can understand how tough that job is.”

Trudeau travels having received one of his two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot. His office said he will quarantine for up to three days at a hotel in Ottawa when he returns next week.

The G7 includes Canada, the U.S. and United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy and Germany, as well as the European Union.

Summit observers say Trudeau enters being the leader who has served the second-longest, next only to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked countries to come with concrete commitments on how to end the pandemic by the end of 2022.

Experts say Canada will have to decide how it wants to contribute to that effort, for example through financing or donating vaccines.

It hasn’t announced any plans to share its vaccines despite having guaranteed delivery of more than 100 million doses for the year when giving the population its two doses requires 76 million.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2021.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

TC Energy shuts down Keystone pipeline system after leak in Nebraska

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CALGARY — TC Energy Corp. says it has shut down its Keystone pipeline after a leak in Nebraska.

The company says it has mobilized people and equipment in response to a confirmed release of oil into a creek, about 32 kilometres south of Steele City, Neb.

TC Energy says an emergency shutdown and response was initiated Wednesday night after a pressure drop in the system was detected.

It says the affected segment of the pipeline has been isolated and booms have been deployed to prevent the leaked oil from moving downstream.

The Keystone pipeline system stretches 4,324 kilometres and helps move Canadian and U.S. crude oil to markets around North America.

TC Energy says the system remains shutdown as its crews respond and work to contain and recover the oil.

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

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)

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Indigenous

Advocate asks AFN chiefs to ensure $40B settlement deal leaves no child behind

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By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa

A First Nations child welfare advocate on Wednesday implored chiefs to ensure “no child is left behind” in a landmark $40-billion settlement agreement with the federal government.

Cindy Blackstock delivered the message to an Assembly of First Nations gathering in Ottawa, after being invited to take the stage by Cindy Woodhouse, regional chief in Manitoba who helped negotiate the agreement, which had been thrown into question since being rejected by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

The AFN, representing more than 600 First Nations across the country, had asked the tribunal to approve the settlement deal, which would see the government spend $20 billion to compensate families and children for systemic discrimination in the Indigenous child welfare system. It would also spend another $20 billion on making long-term reforms.

Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Caring Society who first lodged the complaint at the heart of the issue, raised concerns that the agreement wouldn’t provide $40,000 in compensation to all eligible claimants, which is the amount the tribunal ruled they should get.

“We can make sure that in our First Nations canoe of justice, no child has to see their money go away and no child is left behind in justice,” she said Wednesday.

“We are capable of that.”

Following the tribunal’s decision in October, the federal government filed for a judicial review of some parts of its decision.

Endorsing the settlement agreement loomed as one of the biggest items on the assembly’s agenda, with chiefs being asked to vote on what the organization should do next.

The chiefs had been preparing to vote on conflicting resolutions, with one asking them to support the final settlement agreement, while another sought to see the organization not appeal the tribunal decision and renegotiate the deal.

But on Wednesday, further talks between both sides took place, assisted by former senator and judge Murray Sinclair, who helped the AFN, federal government and lawyers for two related class-action lawsuits reach the $40-billion agreement in the first place, which was formally announced in January.

Chiefs ultimately voted late Wednesday against re-entering negotiations but to instead support compensation for victims outlined in the agreement and “those already legally entitled to the $40,000 plus interest under the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal compensation orders.”

It also included a provision that AFN leaders must regularly return to chiefs to provide it with progress updates and “seek direction” from chiefs on implementing the final agreement.

Many chiefs thanked Blackstock, who was greeted with applause after further agreement was met and said she was honoured to see people come together for children harmed by Ottawa’s discrimination.

“We have had too many apologies, we’ve had too many compensation deals, we’ve had too many kids hurt. And this has got to be it,” she said.

She added more discussion on the long-term reform part of the deal would be presented to chiefs on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, the assembly heard from sisters Melissa Walterson and Karen Osachoff, plaintiffs on the case, about the impact the foster care system had on their lives.

Osachoff said she had been in the child welfare system since she was born and didn’t have a chance to grow up with her sister.

“Had it not been for the ’60s Scoop and the child welfare (system), her and I would have grown up together.”

She said she understands why the tribunal characterizes those like her as “victims,” but told chiefs to instead think of them as survivors.

“I am not a victim and our claimants are not victims.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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