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Canada's Justin Trudeau unsure about Washington trip, cites concern over tariffs

OTTAWA (REUTERS) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday (July 3) he was still unsure whether he would go to Washington DC next week to celebrate a new North American trade treaty, citing concern about possible US tariffs on aluminium.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is due to meet US President Donald Trump next week, has said he would like Trudeau to attend.

Mexican sources had previously said Lopez Obrador’s visit was planned for Wednesday and Thursday, with the possibility of a trilateral meeting on Thursday.

“We’re still in discussions with the Americans about whether a trilateral summit next week makes sense,” Trudeau said in a news conference.

“We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminium and steel that the Americans have floated recently.”

US national security tariffs on imported steel and aluminium – including from Canada and Mexico – were a major irritant during negotiations for the United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal, which was reached last year and entered into force on July 1.

But now, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is considering domestic producers’ request to restore the 10 per cent duty on Canadian aluminum to combat a “surge” of imports.

Concern about the “health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries” is another factor in his decision on whether to go to Washington, Trudeau said.

Also next week, Trudeau said he would hold a two-day virtual Cabinet retreat – without saying which days – to discuss how to prepare for a potential second wave of Covid-19, among other things.

The spread of the novel coronavirus has slowed steadily in Canada over the past eight weeks, but new cases are spiking in many US states.

As of July 2, Canada had recorded a total of 104,772 coronavirus cases, with 68,345 recovered and 8,642 deaths.

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Armed man detained near Canada PM Justin Trudeau's residence

OTTAWA (AFP) – Canadian police on Thursday (July 2) arrested an armed man who entered the grounds of an Ottawa estate that is home to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the country’s governor general.

The suspect, who was not identified pending formal charges, managed to gain access to the property at Rideau Hall at about 6.40am (6.40pm Singapore time).

Rideau Hall is the official residence of Governor General Julie Payette.

Trudeau and his family live on the property at Rideau Cottage.

“The man was arrested shortly after without any incident. He is currently in custody and is being interviewed,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said on Twitter.

“The Prime Minister and the Governor General were not present at the moment of the incident.”

The gate leading to the estate was damaged, according to images broadcast on public TV channel CBC.

Payette is the official representative of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Canada’s formal head of state as a Commonwealth country.

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Canada: Protests across Quebec against racism, police brutality

After the march ended, demonstrators gathered near police headquarters where officers used tear gas to disperse them.

Protesters in Montreal were tear gassed as thousands gathered across Quebec to demonstrate against racism and police brutality in the French-speaking Canadian province.

Demonstrators marched peacefully in the centre of the city on Sunday for the second time in a week as part of a global wave of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed in US police custody when a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

More:

  • Mapping anti-racism solidarity protests around the world

  • ‘Justice for George Floyd’: US protests in pictures

  • What happened the day George Floyd died in police custody?

After the march ended, some of the protesters gathered near police headquarters where officers used tear gas to disperse them, Radio Canada reported. Last Sunday’s protest also ended in clashes in the evening.

During the march, protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter”, “No justice, no peace”, “Je ne peux pas respirer” (I can’t breathe) and “Il faut que ca cesse” (this has to stop).

Organisers gave speeches before the start of the march slamming Quebec’s Premier Francois Legault for claiming a few days earlier there was no “systemic racism” in the province.

Protester Madani Ba, a 28-year-old musician and artist, said he once was subjected to two different identity checks within five minutes on the same street.

“There’s a lot of racial profiling, ask anyone of colour and they will tell you the same thing. It’s unbelievable and it has to change,” he said.

‘A lived reality’

Jessica Francois, 29, said she came to the protests to show “the colour of your skin does not justify the inequalities we can see, for instance, in Quebec”.

Demonstrators marched peacefully and were asked to stop several times to kneel in memory of Floyd.

While many protesters wore masks, it was hard for them to maintain social distancing of two metres (six feet), particularly while waiting for the march to begin.

More protests took place in Sherbrooke, east of Montreal, and in the provincial capital Quebec City. Other demonstrations occurred on Saturday in Toronto and other cities across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined thousands in Ottawa on Friday. He knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same length of time that police officer Derek Chauvin had kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.

“Over the past weeks, we’ve seen a large number of Canadians suddenly awaken to the fact that the discrimination that is a lived reality for far too many of our fellow citizens is something that needs to end,” Trudeau said.


The Stream

Is Canada respecting indigenous land rights?

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Canada failing citizens stuck in Syria: report

A human rights group has criticised Canada for failing to repatriate dozens of citizens with alleged ties to the Islamic State (IS) back from Syria.

Human Rights Watch, an international organisation, says 47 Canadians – including 26 children – have been detained for over a year.

Included in the list is Jack Letts, an Anglo-Canadian man who lost UK citizenship in 2019.

Nicknamed “Jihadi Jack” by the UK press, he joined IS in 2014, aged 18.

The dual UK-Canadian national was jailed after being captured by Kurdish YPG forces while trying to flee to Turkey in May 2017.

The Canadian government said the UK had “off-loaded” its responsibilities.

The report, published by Human Rights Watch, accused Canada of abandoning its international obligations and failing to provide consular assistance because of the Canadians’ alleged ties to IS.

“If Canada can bring home tens of thousands of citizens from around the world in a matter of weeks, surely it can find a way to repatriate fewer than 50 others trapped in horrific conditions in northeast Syria,” said Letta Tayler, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The lives of Canadians are on the line, and the time to bring them home is now.”

During his daily press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the government, and said it is difficult to offer diplomatic assistance because of safety concerns in the region. Canada does not have a diplomatic presence in Syria.

“We have a responsibility as a government to ensure that Canadian citizens, particularly employees, are not put into danger, are not exposed to grave situations,” Mr Trudeau said.

“Syria is an area where we do not have any diplomats or any Canadians on the ground and therefore we work through intermediaries to try and provide consular assistance as best we can.”

Human Rights Watch is not the first international organisation to criticise Canada’s response.

In May, a panel of UN human rights experts urged the country to bring home 5-year-old Amira, who was being held in the al-Hol refugee camp, which houses thousands of family members of IS.

The girl was orphaned when her Canadian parents and brother died in a battle, the UN panel says.

Her uncle, who lives in Canada, has been trying to bring her to live with him, and has visited her in the camp, according to CTV News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is trying to bring her to Canada, but has to go through the “proper processes”.

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CANADA STOCKS-TSX set for best quarter since 2009 on recovery hopes

June 30 (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock index inched higher on Tuesday and was on track for its best quarter since the global financial crisis, as estimates of an economic expansion in May bolstered hopes for a faster post-pandemic recovery.

* Canada’s real GDP is likely to have grown 3% in May, bouncing back from a record decline in April, Statistics Canada said in a flash estimate on Tuesday, as businesses across the country began to reopen following coronavirus-linked shutdowns.

* At 11:35 a.m. ET (1535 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 39.8 points, or 0.26%, at 15,429.52, and was on course for its biggest quarterly percentage gain since the second quarter of 2009.

* However, the energy sector dropped 1.7% as U.S. crude prices were down 0.1% a barrel, while Brent crude lost 1.2%.

* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 1.9% as gold futures rose 0.8% to $1,789.4 an ounce.

* On the TSX, 141 issues were higher, while 78 issues declined for a 1.81-to-1 ratio favouring gainers, with 72.05 million shares traded.

* The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was Real Matters Inc with a 7.5% jump, followed by Iamgold Corp , which rose 7.0%.

* Cineplex fell 16.6% to a more than three-month low, the most on the TSX, after reporting a hit to first-quarter results from the COVID-19 pandemic.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Bonavista Energy, Baytex Energy Co, and B2gold Corp .

* The TSX posted 13 new 52-week highs and no new low.

* Across all Canadian issues there were 38 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows, with total volume of 154.14 million shares. (Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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Canada's Justin Trudeau rejects call to swap Huawei executive for detainees in China

OTTAWA (REUTERS) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday (June 25) rejected a call to swap an imprisoned Huawei Technologies executive for two citizens held by Beijing, saying such a move would set a bad precedent and harm Canada.

Shortly after Vancouver police arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US arrest warrant in December 2018, Beijing detained two Canadian man on security charges. Last week, they were charged with suspected spying.

A group of 19 prominent figures, including former Cabinet ministers and diplomats, this week wrote a letter to Trudeau urging Ottawa to halt the extradition proceedings against Meng.

This, they said, would boosting the chances of China freeing the two men.

Trudeau, who has dismissed repeated calls from China to intervene in the case against Meng, said the signatories were wrong to call for her release.

“(This) would endanger the millions of Canadians who live and travel overseas every single year. We cannot allow political pressures or random arrests of Canadian citizens to influence the functioning of our justice system,” he told reporters.

The wife of one of the detained men on Tuesday urged Canada’s justice minister to consider intervening in the case, saying her husband was in an increasingly dire predicament.

Although Beijing insists there is no connection between Meng and the two Canadians, Trudeau said there was a clear link.

“We deplore what China did… and will continue to remain steadfast and strong,” he said, adding that it would be”absolutely unacceptable” to let Beijing think it could get what it wanted by arresting Canadians.

China has also blocked imports of Canadian canola seed and meat products.

Trudeau, asked whether Ottawa might impose sanctions on Chinese officials, said Canada was looking at a range of options but gave no details.

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Canada's financial capital reopening subdued as most employees stay home

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s financial capital, Toronto, staged a cautious restart of its economy on Wednesday following a three-month pandemic-driven shutdown as several of its biggest employers kept staff working from home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

At the usually bustling Union Station, spitting distance from the city’s financial core and the intersection of Toronto’s subway, the regional train system and bus network, staff outnumbered commuters.

Downtown Toronto streets, normally gridlocked on pre-pandemic weekdays, were mostly free of traffic during what would have been the morning rush hour in the country’s most populous city.

Most people out on the streets wore masks.

The PATH, a 30-kilometer (18.6 miles) below-ground pedestrian walkway connecting about 75 buildings, and the world’s largest underground shopping complex, remained silent, devoid of office employees and many retailers still closed.

Andy Voelker, manager of a Second Cup (SCU.TO) coffee franchise in the PATH, said he hadn’t seen an increase in customers on Wednesday.

The store, which remained open throughout the shutdown, lost about 90% of its business, but the return of construction workers three weeks ago revived some sales, he said.

“The return to normal probably won’t happen till sometime next year,” he added.

Ontario, the biggest province by population, started gradually reopening its economy this month, but much of Toronto, which has suffered more than 1,000 deaths, was left off the initial list.

Canada’s three biggest lenders, Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), and life insurer Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) said they don’t intend to bring staff back until at least September.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) said employees will continue to work remotely “for an extended period of time.”

Brookfield Asset Management BAM.TO, which has reoriented desks and reduced meeting-room capacity, plans to bring employees back gradually, a spokeswoman said.

Even so, high-rise office buildings in Toronto stood ready.

Brookfield, one of the biggest downtown landlords, has disinfected buildings, and cleaned and tested air distribution systems and water supply tanks, the spokeswoman said.

Cleaning and security staff dotted office lobbies, wiping down common areas and ensuring what little foot traffic there was followed signs to maintain distance and move in certain directions. Elevators sported stickers limiting the number of riders.

“It’s sad that the hustle and bustle of downtown is gone,” said Meghan Wilton, who works at Medisys Health Group in Toronto, which opened at reduced capacity three weeks ago.

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