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Canada, France promise to double down on climate-change fight amid U.S. inaction

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  • OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, long billed as kindred political spirits, agreed Monday to a fresh, fortified attack on climate change — hoping to keep a shared priority at the forefront of the global agenda despite Donald Trump’s decision to quit the battlefield.

    Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna was on hand to sign the new France-Canada partnership on climate and environment in a ceremony at the French presidential palace during the first day of Trudeau’s official visit to Paris.

    “France and Canada today pledge to redouble their efforts and increase their co-operation,” Trudeau said in French during a news conference with Macron following the ceremony.

    “This initiative will encourage and accelerate the achievement of the Paris Agreement targets through concrete measures to make this agreement in principle a reality.”

    The partnership comes as Macron has taken it upon himself to personally champion the Paris deal since Trump made good on his threat to withdraw from the climate accord last year.

    The France-Canada partnership, which includes pushing for a global price on carbon and reductions to transport-related emissions, also falls squarely in line with Trudeau’s government priorities for the G7 in Quebec this June.

    And with France having the G7 presidency in 2019, senior Canadian officials said, the hope is that the exclusive group of nations will continue working toward the goals laid out by the Paris Agreement, with the international community following their lead.

    What remains unclear is how Trump will respond to any perceived attempt to force him into a stronger position on climate change, though the officials insist no one is trying to back the U.S. president into a corner.

    Interestingly, the government is also hoping the partnership will convince the French that Canada is indeed serious about fighting climate change — and that ratification of the new Canada-EU free trade deal will eventually follow.

    There have been concerns in France that investor-protection clauses within the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement — or CETA, as the Canada-EU deal is known — would lead to weakened environmental rules.

    At one point during Monday’s news conference, Trudeau found himself defending the trade deal, noting there aren’t many other countries that are better suited to a free trade deal with Europe than Canada.

    “Whether its environmental protection or freedom of expression or other things, Canada and France are well aligned. Canada and Europe are well aligned,” the prime minister said in French.

    “And CETA is a progressive trade agreement that truly reflects those protected values and represents a new standard for all future trade agreements.”

    Trudeau and Macron also marked the establishment of a new cultural agreement, this one signed by Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, that included promoting the French language in “the digital space” and affirming the two countries’ support for net neutrality.

    While climate and trade were at the top of the agenda for Trudeau’s meeting with Macron, also top of mind was the West African nation of Mali, where France is leading a counter-terror mission and Canada is sending peacekeepers.

    On Sunday, Islamic militants there launched a brazen — and troublingly sophisticated — attack, disguising themselves as peacekeepers and then setting off several car bombs and attacking with rockets.

    The attack, near the northern city of Timbuktu, killed one UN peacekeeper and wounded at least a dozen soldiers, some of whom were from France.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was thanked twice on Monday for agreeing to send Canadian peacekeepers to Mali, first by the head of the Francophonie, former Canadian governor general Michaelle Jean, and then by Macron.

    “Canada made the decision to participate in Minusma with the addition of helicopters and support personnel,” Macron said, using the official name for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

    “And as you know today we are very, very connected to Minusma and I think this is a very important gesture that has been made by Canada, and we very much appreciate it.”

    Canada is sending six military helicopters to Mali later this year; they will be based at the UN base in Gao, rather than Timbuktu.

    Trudeau wraps up his visit to France on Tuesday by becoming the first Canadian prime minister to address the French National Assembly, after which he’ll fly to London to meet British counterpart Theresa May and the Queen.

    The prime minister will then attend a meeting of Commonwealth leaders on Thursday before returning to Canada, stopping to Halifax to attend the Liberal party convention.

    — Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter

    Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press



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    National

    Canadian was killed in Peru, Global Affairs says

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  • The death of a Canadian who was killed in Peru is linked to the reported murder of an Indigenous human rights defender, Canadian authorities said Sunday.

    Global Affairs Canada confirmed in an email that the killing of the unnamed Canadian is related to the alleged assassination of Indigenous elder Olivia Arevalo Lomas.

    Arevalo Lomas was a human rights activist of the Shipibo-Konibo people in the Ucayali region.

    The federal government said it is providing consular assistance to the family of the Canadian.

    The government extended its condolences following Arevalo Lomas’s death. 

    Peru’s police ombudsman condemned the death of the Indigenous elder in series of Twitter messages, describing Arevalo Lomas as a promoter of her people’s cultural rights.

    The ombudsman said increased illegal activity was putting Indigenous people’s lives at risk.

    The Canadian Press


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    National

    Liberal MP Drouin says allegation made against him at party’s Halifax convention

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  • OTTAWA — Liberal MP Francis Drouin says an allegation has been made against him following an incident at the party’s convention in Halifax this weekend.

    Drouin, a 34-year-old MP from eastern Ontario, was described earlier this year as a rising star in the Liberal Party with a firm grip on the agriculture file and standing as the most-lobbied backbench MP on Parliament Hill.

    In a statement emailed to Liberal MPs and staff Sunday, Drouin says he can confirm an allegation has been made but doesn’t say what it is about.

    He says he is co-operating fully with the investigation, that no charges have been laid against him and he believes it is important for all individuals to feel safe coming forward with their stories and to receive support.

    The news comes a day after the Liberal Party held an hour-long seminar at the convention named “From #MeToo to never again: creating safe work environments.”

    A spokesman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says all questions should be directed to the party’s whip, Pablo Rodriguez, who hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

    The Canadian Press


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