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PM condemns hateful, ‘toxic segments’ of society after New Zealand shooting

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  • OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an emotional clarion call Monday as he urged people of all political stripes to turn the page on hateful ideology and condemn the sort of intolerance that fuelled the brutal killing of 50 Muslims in New Zealand.

    A visibly angry Trudeau denounced the “small, toxic segments” of society that peddle the belief diversity is a weakness, spewing hatred and inciting brutality.

    “We see it here in Canada — in online harassment, anonymous letters, defaced places of worship, acts of violence and even murder,” he told the House of Commons as party leaders expressed solidarity with the victims in Christchurch and their families.

    “When we fail to denounce hatred with total conviction, we empower those people and legitimize their violence.”

    Trudeau expressed sorrow at the many attacks in recent years that have taken the lives of defenceless people at mosques, temples, churches, synagogues, concerts, schools and malls.

    “I’m sick and tired of extending our thoughts and our prayers. People around the world are exhausted by the carnage,” he said.

    “We have to chase out this hatred from our parties, fight it online, denounce it at town halls, push back when it reaches our front door.”

    Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer joined Trudeau in stressing the need to condemn all racist ideologies and doctrines of prejudice.

    Canada has, from its inception, been a country built on values that transcend religious, ethnic and linguistic divides, Scheer said. “This is who we are, and this is who we will always be. Those who think otherwise have no place in our democracy.”

    In his maiden speech to the Commons, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the use of dehumanizing language and making immigration out to be a threat can breed fear and fuel hatred.

    “Let’s open our hearts and replace the ignorance, the lack of knowledge with understanding, which will create the climate for compassion, so we care for one another,” he said.

    Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale suggested Friday’s deadly mass shooting, which killed 50 people and wounded 50 more as they gathered at a pair of Christchurch mosques, will spur parliamentarians to take a careful look at Canada’s gun laws.

    The massacre has sparked a global sense of concern that will prompt Canadian politicians to make some timely decisions, Goodale said Monday after appearing before a Senate committee.

    Goodale said cabinet colleague Bill Blair will deliver recommendations soon, having been asked last August by Trudeau to study the possibility of a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada.

    A visibly galvanized Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, said her government plans to announce gun-law reforms within days.

    A bill already before Canada’s Senate would, among other things, expand the scope of background checks on those who want to acquire guns here.

    The bill would also require gun retailers keep records of firearms inventory and sales, and ensure the purchaser of a hunting rifle or shotgun presents a firearms licence, while the seller would have to verify it.

    — Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

    Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press


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    National

    Canada-China relations hit ‘rock bottom’ and at ‘freezing point’: Chinese envoy

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  • OTTAWA — China’s ambassador to Canada says the bilateral relationship is now at “rock bottom” compared to any time since diplomatic ties were first established decades ago.

    In prepared text for a speech Thursday, Lu Shaye said he’s saddened Canada-China relations are at what he called a “freezing point.”

    Lu’s remarks come at a time of heightened tensions following the December arrest of Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on an extradition request by the United States.

    The Huawei executive’s arrest has enraged China, which has since detained two Canadians on allegations of endangering Chinese national security, sentenced two Canadians to death for drug-related convictions and blocked key agricultural shipments.

    Lu did not mention Meng’s arrest — but he said the China-Canada relationship is now facing serious difficulties.

    He said China has long valued its relationship with Canada, particularly since it was one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Asian country.

    “For clear reasons, the current China-Canada relations are facing serious difficulties and are situated at the rock bottom since the two countries have established diplomatic relations,” said a copy of Lu’s speech, which was posted on the Chinese Embassy’s website.

    “It saddens us that the current China-Canada relations are ‘at a freezing point’ and face huge difficulties. The knots shall be untied by those who got them tied.”

    He continued by urging Canada to view China’s development in a “fair and objective” manner and to respect its concerns. Lu also warned Canada to “stop the moves that undermine the interests of China.”

    In recent months, Beijing’s envoy has used strong words when talking about the relationship. In January, he told Canadian journalists that Meng’s arrest was the “backstabbing” of a friend and said it was evidence of white supremacism.

    Lu also warned of repercussions if the federal government bars Huawei from selling equipment to build a Canadian 5G wireless network.

    He made the remarks in Toronto at an event hosted by the Globe and Mail. The document said former prime minister Jean Chretien was in attendance as was Darryl White, chief executive of BMO.

    The Canadian Press

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    Environment

    Keep guard up against hurricanes in 2019, as risk remains potent: forecaster

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  • HALIFAX — It has been years since a major tropical storm wreaked havoc in Canada, but the Canadian Hurricane Centre is warning against complacency.

    The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its hurricane outlook Thursday, predicting nine to 15 named storms this season, with four to eight becoming hurricanes and two to four being major hurricanes.

    Bob Robichaud of the Canadian centre noted that’s similar to last year’s hurricane season, when only two storms hit Canada, including post-tropical storm Chris, which made landfall in Newfoundland in July 2018.

    However, Robichaud warns that some Atlantic Canadians may be forgetting storms like post-tropical storm Arthur, which snapped trees and caused massive power outages in 2014, and hurricane Juan’s widespread wrath in 2003.

    And he reminded journalists attending a briefing in Halifax about hurricane Michael, which flattened parts of the Florida panhandle last October.

    The Halifax-based centre has created a fresh smart phone app, and recommends people begin tracking storms as soon as they start and then monitor for shifts in direction and intensity.

    “What we advocate is for people to really stay in tune with weather information because the forecast can change as the storms are approaching,” Robichaud said.

    Robichaud says studies show that complacency levels rise about seven years after a storm like hurricane Juan, and that as a result people do less to prepare.

    “People tend not to take any preparedness action if they haven’t had any kind of hurricane in recent years,” said Robichaud, a warning preparedness meteorologist.

    “For us it’s been five years since any major impactful storm … so it’s even more important to take the necessary precautions to get ready.”

    The Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo has published a simple guide for Canadians on basic measures to take to prepare in particular for flood risk from extreme weather.

    The centre has repeatedly pointed out that without basic measures, basement flooding can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage during hurricanes.

    Its publications include a Home Flood Protection Program that begin with such simple steps as testing sump pumps, cleaning out eaves troughs and maintaining backwater valves.

    More advanced measures include removing obstructions from basement drains and creating grading to move water away from homes.

    The hurricane season runs from June 1 to early November.

    Robichaud said hurricanes tend to “feed on” warmer waters, and as result the centre is closely monitoring those trends.

    The meteorologist said as summer progresses it’s projected the water will warm in the eastern Atlantic and become warmer than average.

    In addition, Robichaud said the Atlantic Ocean continues to be in an overall period of high hurricane activity that hasn’t yet come to the end of a cycle.

    — Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.

    Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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