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Hundreds of Canadian troops deployed to flood zones in Quebec and N.B.

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MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault is visiting flood-damaged regions north of Montreal today, as warm temperatures and rising water levels threaten to worsen the spring flooding already wreaking havoc across a wide region.

Legault was set to visit a community centre and flooded homes on an island in the Laval region, where Canadian Forces troops are expected to join the efforts to limit the damage. The city says it could receive another 20 to 40 millimetres of rain in the coming days.

Many people across Quebec and New Brunswick have been filling sandbags in an effort to protect their homes. Officials say water levels are expected to rise in many regions due to warming temperatures that contribute to snowmelt and ice movement.

About 200 soldiers started filling sandbags and carrying out evacuations in Quebec’s Outaouais and Mauricie regions overnight, with an additional 400 troops standing ready to deploy there and in Laval on Sunday.

Urgence Quebec says that as of Sunday morning, 980 residences across the province had been flooded and more than 1,200 people had left their homes.

Several major floods have been identified as threatening thousands of Quebecers, and so far one death has been blamed on the high water.

Police say 72-year-old Louise Seguin Lortie died Saturday morning after driving her car into a sinkhole caused by flooding in the Pontiac area, about 30 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.

Some of the worst flooding has been in the Beauce region south of Quebec City, where 883 homes were swamped and 765 people evacuated, up from 94 on Saturday.

Quebec’s public safety minister has urged citizens in affected areas to avoid unnecessary risks and to leave their homes if necessary.

On Ile Bigras, off the southeast edge of Laval, about two dozen soldiers unloaded a truck full of sandbags on Sunday as they worked to reinforce a concrete barrier only metres from the rushing river.

Public affairs officer Pierre Leblanc said the army’s priority would be filling and stacking sandbags and protecting critical infrastructure near the river, which he said was rising about one centimetre each hour.

He said some 600 soldiers had been deployed across the province, including about 200 in the Laval area.

Near the entrance to the island, several roads were closed due to flooding and one home appeared partially surrounded by water, as small waves lapped at a picnic bench and a “For Sale” sign on the lawn.

Meanwhile, about 120 Canadian soldiers are being deployed across western New Brunswick to help residents threatened by rising floodwaters.

Fifteen communities in that province have been warned to remain on high alert.

 

The Canadian Press

Environment

Canada’s climate plan not enough, entire G7 must do more report says

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Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA — The wealthiest countries in the world — including Canada — are lagging instead of leading in the fight against global warming, a new report says.

The Climate Action Network, a global association of more than 1,300 climate groups, issued a report card on the climate plans of the G7 nations ahead of the leaders’ summit in France this weekend. The groups hope to pressure the world’s wealthiest nations to step up their climate game, noting none of them is doing enough.

There is also a hope expressed in the report that the upcoming federal election in Canada might stimulate more ambitious action. Canada, the report says, is among the worst of the already bad G7 bunch.

“It’s depressing,” said Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada. “The richest countries in the world are delivering the poorest performance and some of the smallest and poorest are leading the way.”

The report card says Canada’s current policies are consistent with global warming exceeding 4 C compared to pre-industrial levels, more than twice the stated goal of the Paris agreement of staying as close to 1.5 C as possible. The United States and Japan are also both in the 4 C category, while the other four G7 members, France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, have policies consistent with more than 3 C in warming.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Canada is leading internationally with its initiative to wean the world off coal power, and financing projects in developing nations to mitigate or adapt to climate change.

“Over the past three and a half years, our government has delivered on an ambitious, affordable plan that is doing more to cut carbon pollution than any other federal government in Canada’s history,” Sabrina Kim said in a written statement.

But the Climate Action Network ranks Canada’s climate plan as having the same impact on global warming as the policies of the United States, where President Donald Trump has rejected the Paris agreement.

The report applauds Canada’s plan to eliminate coal as a source of electricity by 2030, the national price on pollution and the goal to stop selling combustion-engine cars by 2040. But it says all of the government plans “remain insufficient to meet Canada’s targets and the Paris Agreement.”

Canada’s current targets were developed by the Conservatives in the spring of 2015, and maintained by the Liberals six months later when they signed on to the Paris agreement a few weeks after winning the election. The goal by 2030 is to cut emissions 30 per cent below what they were in 2005.

Last December, the Liberals said computer modelling suggested Canada will get just over halfway there — 16 per cent below 2005 levels — under current plans.

Many scientists also say Canada must cut more than twice as many emissions than planned if it is to pull its weight in the war on climate change.

Climate plans are proving to be a major part of most party platforms, with the NDP, Green and Conservatives already releasing at least the broad strokes of their environment promises. The Liberals are expected to release their climate platform next month. McKenna has said several times that Canada will increase its emissions targets in 2020, when the Paris agreement requires it, but she hasn’t indicated how much more she will aim to cut.

The Conservative plan doesn’t specifically put a number on the goal, but does describe itself as “Canada’s best chance to meet the Paris targets.” The NDP aim to increase emissions cuts in line with what scientists demand. The Green Party promises to cut emissions by 2030 to 60 per cent below 2005 levels.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


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‘Grateful that we had stopped:’ Couple avoids fiery Alberta crash that killed 3

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oyen highway crash

CEREAL, Alta. — A Saskatchewan man says a well-timed pit stop may have helped him avoid getting caught in a fiery 10-vehicle crash in southeastern Alberta that killed three people.

Dore Germo and his wife left Kelowna, B.C., on Monday after a holiday visiting friends. After a night in Calgary, they were on their way home Tuesday to Warman, Sask.

They stopped for gas and a break in Hanna, Alta., about 80 kilometres from where seven passenger vehicles and three semi trucks collided on Highway 9.

“We were quite grateful that we had stopped,” Germo said in an interview Wednesday.

“It just makes you think, ‘Could that have been us further up the road?’ We just don’t know.”

The couple spotted smoke as they continued east but thought it was a grass fire.

Then they saw flashing lights and heard sirens. A police officer was running down the middle of the road waving his arms at stopped vehicles.

“I rolled down my window and he was just yelling, ‘Get out! Get out!'”

Germo said they were directed to a gravel road to get around the crash, and from there they could make out a tanker truck and burned vehicles amid the smoke.

“It kind of looked like a bomb had gone off because there were these burnt-out vehicles and it was very eerie,” he said.

“It was quite a sickening kind of empty feeling once you realized that — yes — those are people just going about their day and travelling somewhere.”

He said he’s praying for those involved.

“The first thing you think of is those poor families.”

RCMP confirmed Wednesday that three people were found dead at the crash scene between the small communities of Chinook and Cereal, about 300 kilometres east of Calgary. Ten people were injured, two critically.

One of the trucks that was carrying fuel ignited, causing several vehicles to catch fire, and another truck was carrying butane.

A stretch of Highway 9 was still closed on Wednesday afternoon, while crews cleared the area and recovered dangerous goods in one of the trucks.

RCMP Cpl. Laurel Scott said the crash happened in a construction zone.

“Any time that traffic is moving through or travelling near a construction zone, there’s always a concern just generally about travelling safely.”

She said a collision analyst was at the site for several hours taking measurements, noting marks on the road and recording where debris had landed.

The investigation could take several weeks, she said, and will also take into account mechanical exams and witness statements. It’s too early to say whether any charges are possible, she added.

“We need the public to understand this does take some time.” 

The RCMP’s victim services unit was providing support to people involved in the crash. The unit set up at the legion in nearby Oyen on Tuesday night.

“They’re there to offer whatever help they can, even if it’s just to listen to somebody and give them a blanket,” Scott said.

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

The Canadian Press

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