OTTAWA — Unvaccinated travellers over the age of 12 won’t be able to board a plane or passenger train in Canada beginning today, and a negative COVID-19 test will no longer serve as a substitute for most people.
The policy came into effect on Oct. 30, but the federal government allowed a short transition period for unvaccinated travellers who could board as long as they provided a negative molecular COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before their trip.
The stringent new requirement comes into effect as Canada reacts to the emergence of the new, highly mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The discovery of the new variant has prompted border closures and heavier screening in Canada and abroad over fears it could prove more transmissible.
The risk related to the Omicron variant is very high, according to the World Health Organization, but there is still a lot public health officials and scientists do not know about it.
While anyone coming into Canada or boarding a plane or train inside the country must be vaccinated, there are currently no quarantine measures in place except for people who have recently transited through southern Africa.
While many airlines have so far been doing random spot checks to ensure travellers are vaccinated, Air Canada and West Jet have confirmed they will ask for proof from everyone boarding in Canada as of today.
Other measures, like masks and health screenings, will still be mandatory.
“If you indicate to your airline or railway company that you’re eligible to board, but fail to provide proof of vaccination or valid COVID-19 test result, you won’t be allowed to travel and could face penalties or fines,” the government’s website states.
The rule does not apply to commuter trains.
The government has issued warnings on social media that even Canadians and permanent residents abroad will not be able to return home without a full slate of approved vaccines.
There are some exceptions, including valid medical exemptions, travel to remote communities only accessible by plane, and those transiting through Canada en route to another destination.
Most people who qualify for an exemption will need a recent COVID-19 test.
The vaccine mandate was met with a positive reaction from Canada’s airline industry when it was first announced in October, though some companies worried about making the necessary preparations in time.
Since then the federal government announced a standardized proof-of-vaccination document, which has been distributed by provinces and territories for domestic and international travel.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2021
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press
Louie Anderson, Emmy-winning comedian, dies at 68
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Louie Anderson, whose more than four-decade career as a comedian and actor included his unlikely, Emmy-winning performance as mom to twin adult sons in the TV series “Baskets,” died Friday. He was 68.
Anderson died at a hospital in Las Vegas of complications from cancer, said Glenn Schwartz, his longtime publicist. Anderson had a a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Schwartz said previously.
Anderson won a 2016 Emmy for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Christine Baskets, mother to twins played by Zach Galifianakis. Anderson received three consecutive Emmy nods for his performance.
He was a familiar face elsewhere on TV, including as host of a revival of the game show “Family Feud” from 1999 to 2002, and on comedy specials and in frequent late-night talk show appearances.
Anderson voiced an animated version of himself as a kid in “Life With Louie.” He created the cartoon series, which first aired in prime time in late 1994 before moving to Saturday morning for its 1995-98 run. Anderson won two Daytime Emmy Awards for the role.
He made guest appearances in several TV series, including “Scrubs” and “Touched by an Angel,” and was on the big screen in 1988′s “Coming to America” and in last year’s sequel to the Eddie Murphy comedy.
Anderson also toured regularly with his stand-up act and as a stand-up comedian.
Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
No national security issue in Chinese takeover of Canadian lithium company: Liberals
OTTAWA — The pending takeover of a Canadian lithium mining company by a Chinese state-owned company raises no national security concerns, federal Liberals argued Thursday.
Liberal MP Andy Fillmore, parliamentary secretary to Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, told a House of Commons committee that the Industry Department reviewed last fall the proposed takeover of Neo Lithium Corp. by China’s Zijin Mining Group Ltd.
That review concluded that Neo Lithium is “really not a Canadian company,” he told the industry committee, describing it as an Argentine company with directors in the United Kingdom and only three Canadian employees “on paper.”
He said the only reason Neo Lithium “had any Canadian toehold whatsoever,” was to get on the Toronto Stock Exchange in a bid to raise money for what Fillmore called an “increasingly dubious appearing” mine development project in Argentina.
Moreover, he said that project involves lithium carbonate, not the lithium hydroxide used to manufacture batteries that are critical for electric vehicles.
For those reasons, Fillmore said a formal national security review of the takeover was deemed unnecessary.
“These are the things they found, right? That in fact it’s not a relevant lithium to Canada’s national security interests and it’s not really a Canadian company.”
However, Conservative MP Ed Fast, who had called for the emergency committee meeting to find out why no formal security review was done, said it’s “just false” to say Neo Lithium is not a Canadian company.
And he noted that the company’s own website touts the mine as “the pre-eminent lithium brine asset in the world” to meet surging global demand for electric vehicle batteries.
“It goes without saying but bears restating that critical minerals such as lithium are a strategic asset, not only for Canada but for the world, and will play a critical role in driving our future prosperity and in meeting our environmental objectives,” Fast said.
While the mine in question is in Argentina, Fast argued that it is incumbent on Canada and other “free-trading, rules-following allies” to ensure the global critical minerals industry is not monopolized by one country, especially one whose interests “are sometimes hostile toward ours.”
China currently dominates the world’s supply of lithium and batteries.
Conservative MP Tracy Gray further argued that lithium carbonate can be converted into lithium hydroxide for use in batteries.
But Fillmore countered that the conversion process involves additional costs and “significant environmental implications,” which is why lithium hydroxide is preferred.
“I could probably make a passable hat using my socks but I’d much rather wear a hat,” he said.
Thursday’s meeting was called to consider a motion by Fast, calling for the committee to hold six meetings to explore the Neo Lithium takeover and whether a formal national security review should have been conducted.
In the end, committee members unanimously agreed to a Bloc Quebecois compromise to hold two meetings on the subject next week. The steering subcommittee, which is also to meet next week to set the committee’s agenda for the coming months, could decide to schedule more meetings on Neo Lithium.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.
Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
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