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This is not just another protest – Freedom Convoy is heading to Ottawa

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Millions of Canadians are wondering exactly what is happening on the highways leading to Ottawa.  An overwhelming amount of traffic is forming, not only on the highways, but also in social media, and on websites dedicated to the “Freedom Convoy”.
It appears the federal government’s decision to implement a vaccine mandate for truckers has hit a nerve with Canadians opposed to the mandating of vaccines to treat covid.  What started out as a cross country rally by truckers aiming to make a statement in Ottawa has exploded into a national and international phenomenon as people from around the world are turning their eyes to Canada to see more and more of the videos, posts, news articles, and podcasts focussing on opposition to mandating health restrictions.
Images of flag-waving Canadians lining up on overpasses to cheer on the truckers which started to trickle out on the weekend, are now flooding the internet.  Videos of trucks blowing their horns at intersections and overpasses are being heard in homes across the country and increasingly around the world.
Just what do all these protestors want?  One explanation comes from the GoFundMe page set up to help support the expenses truckers and supporters are encountering on their trip to Ottawa. That fundraiser easily blew through its initial goal of $3,000,000.00 on Monday morning.  The message from fundraiser organizer Tamara Lich begins with these comments:

To our Fellow Canadians, the time for political over reach is over.  Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods.  Canadians have been integral to the fabric of humanity in many ways that have shaped the planet.

We are a peaceful country that has helped protect nations across the globe from tyrannical governments who oppressed their people, and now it seems it is happening here. We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our Federal Government and demanding that they cease all mandates against its people. Small businesses are being destroyed, homes are being destroyed, and people are being mistreated and denied fundamental necessities to survive. It’s our duty as Canadians to put an end to this mandates.  It is imperative that this happens because if we don’t our country will no longer be the country we have come to love.  We are doing this for our future Generations and to regain our lives back.

As of Monday morning, a facebook page called Convoy To Ottawa 2022 is already closing in on 400,000 followers.  The group is quickly becoming a favourite place for supporters to share their photos, videos and supportive messages.
Here’s a sample of posts and videos streaming in from across the county beginning with videos from the west coast and the east coast posted on Sunday.  The beginning stages of this convoy seem to show there’s already a groundswell of support.  It the momentum continues throughout this week as the convoy approached Ottawa, this may culminate in something Canadians have never seen before.
From a facebook post by Jon Lively
The number of trucks and light vehicles slow rolling out of the east and west coast’s today is astonishing. And the turnouts to wave them off were incredible.
I’ll admit, I live in a constant state of skepticism to avoid disappointment. But what I’m seeing today sends chills down my spine and brings tears to my eyes. It feels very real.
Regardless of what happens in Ottawa next week, this movement has me feeling a little prouder to be Canadian. I needed that in a bad way. I think we’re all feeling that.
I had people message me today who were in the various reception parties in BC and Alberta and they said it was very emotional. Many tears were shed. I understand why.
This is the most encouraging thing any of us in Canada have seen in two years. The love and unity is palpable.
Thank you to everyone involved. Behind you all the way❤️.

Sunday morning in Vancouver

Sunday morning outside Vancouver

Sunday morning at Abbotsford, BC.   Amazing turn out In Abby this morning!  Video from Shari Decker

 

Freedom Convoy to Ottawa coming through Langley, BC, at the crack of dawn on Jan 23, 2022.  Video from Jacob Lequijt

 

Highway 2 North Lacombe overpass just after 10 PM Sunday night

Joining the convoy from Aluc, New Brunswick on Sunday afternoon.  Video from 91.9 The Bend

A message from Ontario police Constable Erin Howard representing “Police On Guard”

Leaving Calgary Monday morning.

 

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Calgary man who admitted to participating in terrorism activity to be sentenced

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CALGARY — A man who admitted to terrorism-related acts with the militant group Islamic State is to be sentenced today in a Calgary courtroom.

Hussein Borhot, who is 36, has pleaded guilty to one count of participating in terrorism group activity between May 9, 2013, and June 7, 2014, as well as to kidnapping for a terrorist group while in Syria.

RCMP arrested him in July 2020 after a seven-year investigation.

An agreed statement of facts read in court last month said Borhot travelled to Syria through Turkey to join the Islamic State.

The statement said he signed up as a fighter, received substantial training and excelled as a sniper, but did not tell his wife or father before the trip.

Court heard that Borhot revealed much of the information to an undercover officer after he returned to Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Cheese not on the table in Canada-U.K. trade talks as Britain seeks market access

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OTTAWA — The British foreign secretary has often been mocked for her preoccupation with cheese. It started eight years ago when Liz Truss expressed outrage in a speech to her party’s annual conference. 

“We import two thirds of our cheese,” she raged. “That is a disgrace.”

Now Truss is facing another battle over cheese, this time with Canada. 

Britain wants greater access to Canadian markets for more than 700 varieties of cheese including Stilton, Cheshire, and Wensleydale, a crumbly variety originating from Yorkshire. 

But Ottawa has made it clear it does not want to see more British cheddar, let alone artisan varieties such as stinking bishop, renegade monk and Hereford hop, on Canadian fridge shelves. 

During the first round of negotiations of the U.K.-Canada trade deal, Canada told Britain that a larger quota for British cheese is not on the negotiating table.

When it was a European Union member, Britain was part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada, giving it some access to Canada’s cheese market. 

After the U.K. left the EU, a “continuity agreement” with Canada was swiftly put in place to maintain the CETA arrangement until a bilateral trade deal could be struck. 

Ralph Goodale, Canada’s high commissioner to the U.K., said if Britain wants more access to Canadian markets for its cheese as part of a bilateral free-trade agreement, it will have to knock on Brussels’ door and get its part of the dairy quota back. 

“The point is we have already provided that volume in the EU deal and the British left it there without taking it with them,” he said in an interview. “That’s an issue they need to resolve with the Europeans because the Europeans have their quota.” 

Goodale said the U.K.’s request for extra access for British cheese — on top of the access given to the EU — is “what the Canadian negotiators consider to be pretty much a dead end.”

“You are talking about a double concession — one we have already made to the EU and the request is being made by the U.K. for yet another one on top of that,” he said. 

The high commissioner said Canada values its trading relationship with the U.K., adding that he is confident that a mutually-beneficial trade deal will be reached.

But if Canada allows the British to export more of their cheese it would involve “a major commitment of compensation to dairy producers” in Canada to make up for lost incomes.  

In 2018, after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement gave the U.S. fresh access to the Canadian dairy market, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would compensate Canadian dairy farmers.

Canada’s dairy industry was worth over $7 billion in 2020, according to the Canadian Dairy Commission’s annual report. 

There are over 10,000 dairy farms in Canada — most of them in Quebec and Ontario — with an average of 92 cows per farm, it said. 

Until at least the end of next year, Britain will be able to keep exporting its cheese to Canada under the trade continuity agreement, the U.K.’s trade department said. 

This allows U.K. cheese exporters to access the Canadian market tariff-free under the EU portion of Canada’s World Trade Organization cheese tariff rate quota. 

As part of the 1995 WTO agreement on agriculture, Canada established tariff rate quotas for cheese and other dairy products. The quotas set out quantities of dairy that could enter Canada with little or no duty. 

For Britain, a fully fledged free trade deal with Canada is crucial after Brexit left it looking for fresh tariff-free markets.

“We want to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive new agreement with Canada that will strengthen our close and historic bilateral trade relationship,” said a U.K. government trade spokesman in a statement, adding the relationship was worth about $34.5 billion in 2021.

In March, U.K. Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan flew to Canada to announce with Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng that bilateral negotiations had officially begun. 

In a speech in the House of Lords in London earlier this month, Goodale reported on progress in the talks, saying that “both sides are optimistic that, as good as CETA and the continuity agreement were, we can do better still when Canada and the U.K. negotiate a deal face-to-face, directly with each other.” 

Like Goodale, Ng said Canada is confident a free-trade deal with Britain will be reached, enhancing co-operation in a number of areas, including on renewables, sustainability and the digital economy.  

“Canada values the relationship with the United Kingdom. They are … an important trading partner and a trade agreement with the U.K. will be very good for Canadian businesses,” she said in a phone interview from Thailand last weekend.

But she was also firm about the need to protect Canada’s dairy producers, and that means keeping more British cheese out. 

“I have been very clear, our government has been very clear, that we will not provide access to our supply-managed sector,” she said. “We have been clear about that from the get-go.” 

The Canadian dairy sector now produces 1,450 varieties of cheese, including ewe, goat and buffalo varieties, as well as the cheese curds used in the Québécois dish poutine.

At least half of Canada’s cheese is made in Quebec, which is home to a number of artisan varieties including bleu l’ermite, or blue hermit, and Oka, a popular semi-soft rind cheese.

Pierre Lampron, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, has made it clear he will fiercely protect Canadian cheese from British interlopers.

Lampron said he had “validated that the issue of access to the Canadian dairy market was not on the agenda of these trade talks.”

Canada’s protectionist stance toward its dairy industry may have pleased farmers. But it has caused some tension with close allies. 

Earlier this month, New Zealand launched a formal trade dispute against Canada, accusing the federal government of breaking promises to give access for dairy imports under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

The Biden administration also recently said it was asking for a second dispute settlement panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to review a trade dispute with Canada over dairy import quotas.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022. 

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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