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A government letter between two deputy ministers, which was obtained by The Globe and Mail, showed that Canadian embassy staff in Kabul asked in 2012 for a special immigration program “in recognition of the dangers they face in Kabul as a result of their employment with the Government of Canada in Afghanistan.”

But it took almost a decade for such a program to be implemented in July of this year, as the Taliban were already on an offensive sweeping through Afghanistan to power.

Thousands of Afghans who had worked for the Canadian government or military and their families remain stranded and in hiding after not being able to get through a heavily guarded airport and onto evacuation flights out of the country. They fear the Taliban regime seeks retribution for their work with Canada.

If the program had been implemented nine years ago, the chaos of trying to rapidly evacuate staff after the fall of Kabul could have been avoided, according to a former senior employee of Canada’s embassy in Kabul who shared the letter with The Globe.

Read more: Taliban confront economy in turmoil, humanitarian crisis

Opinion: Canada must do more to help the Afghans we left behind

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Afghan evacuees board a civilian airplane after a stay at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, on Monday, August 30, 2021. Many of the troops and officials involved in the evacuation mission at Ramstein have spent time in Afghanistan themselves, making the assignment here a personal one.GORDON WELTERS/The New York Times News Service

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Canada’s envoy left Kabul in July as Taliban advanced and stranded Afghan staff sought Ottawa’s help

The Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan took time off in mid-July as Taliban militants were sweeping across the country and former Afghan employees of the embassy were begging for help to get their families to safety in Canada.

Reid Sirrs, who is now in Ottawa but remains envoy to Afghanistan, went on vacation leave because he needed to take a short break from the stress of working in a dangerous country, Global Affairs said Wednesday.

A senior government official said the decision to allow the envoy to take vacation leave as the Taliban advanced across Afghanistan was made by the senior bureaucrats at Global Affairs. It never crossed the foreign minister’s desk, said the official, who The Globe is not identifying because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

Global Affairs would not initially provide any information on why the department felt it was appropriate for the ambassador to leave the country as Taliban forces were consolidating a grip across the country. The department has refused to say when Mr. Sirrs left or returned to Kabul.

Read more: Canada urges 1,250 Canadians in Afghanistan to hide until it can negotiate their safe exit

Opinion: No more U.S. nation-building abroad? We’ll see about that

Chinese newspaper claims Michael Spavor photographed ‘Chinese military equipment on multiple occasions’

Michael Spavor, the Canadian citizen sentenced last month to 11 years in prison in China for espionage, is alleged to have taken photos and videos of military equipment and may have provided them to fellow Canadian Michael Kovrig, a Chinese state-run newspaper reported on Wednesday.

According to the Global Times report, citing “a source close to the matter,” the photos and videos allegedly taken by Spavor constituted “second-tier state secrets,” which he then provided to Kovrig.

Spavor and Kovrig were arrested in December, 2018, shortly after Canada detained Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou, who is being sought by the United States on bank fraud charges. This is the first time the specific allegations against Spavor, and about a connection between the two men’s cases, have been made public.

Ottawa has consistently denounced the two men’s detention as arbitrary and politically motivated, and called for their release. Until now, little has been made public against them: their trials earlier this were heard behind closed doors, with Canadian officials not allowed entry.

Read more: Families of Michael Spavor, Michael Kovrig to walk ‘7,000 steps for freedom’ to call for their release

Verdict against Michael Spavor gives some hope for future release, but also shows Canada’s powerlessness in the face of injustice

Opinion: Canada needs a new engagement strategy that opposes China’s thuggery

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At least nine dead as Ida hits New York, New Jersey: The governors of New York and New Jersey declared a state of emergency late on Wednesday as record-breaking rains from tropical storm Ida led to flooding and hazardous conditions on the roads, with media reporting at least nine deaths.

Ontario unveils proof-of-vaccine system for indoor activities: Ontario’s vaccine passport system for entering indoor businesses such as restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, theatres, and banquet and meeting halls will come into effect on Sept. 22. Ontarians will use existing printed or emailed vaccine receipts issued by the government, in tandem with a photo ID, to prove their vaccination status until a smartphone app – expected to launch on Oct. 22 – is introduced.

Justin Trudeau releases Liberals’ multibillion-dollar platform: If re-elected the Liberal Party would spend an additional $78-billion over five years – primarily in areas such as health care, housing and seniors – while targeting corporations and the wealthy for $25-billion in tax hikes, provided in part by a minimum 15-per-cent tax on high earners. The platform estimates the federal deficit would decline from $156.9-billion this year to $32-billion in 2025-26, but offers no timeline for erasing the deficit entirely.

U.S. judge conditionally approves Purdue Pharma opioid settlement: A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday gave conditional approval to a potentially US$10-billion plan submitted by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to settle a mountain of lawsuits over its role in the opioid crisis that has killed a half-million Americans over the past two decades.

Up to 14 per cent of children who test positive have symptoms associated with ‘long COVID’: Researchers in Britain have estimated that up to one in seven teenagers who catch COVID-19 still have related symptoms three months after becoming ill. The study is the largest yet to examine “long COVID” – a term for when coronavirus symptoms appear to last for months or longer – in young people.

Increased interest in horse dewormer after unproved COVID-19 claims: Several feed stores and Alberta’s veterinarian college all reported some instances of people seeking the livestock drug ivermectin to treat COVID-19 – a phenomenon that has prompted warnings from regulators in Canada and the United States that the drug is not approved to treat the virus and could be dangerous if taken in quantities meant for large animals.

The latest Decibel: We’re heading into the third school year of the pandemic. But now that the vaccination rollout has more than 65 per cent of Canadians fully inoculated, most Canadian students are returning to in-person learning. The Globe and Mail’s education reporter, Caroline Alphonso, is on the show to help parents understand how schools are gearing up to keep kids safe and facilitate as normal of a return to school this fall as possible.


Investors on hold ahead of Friday’s U.S. jobs report: Record-high world stocks slowed their charge on Thursday as concerns grew over the Chinese economy after a run of soft data, while the risk of a sub-par U.S. payrolls report kept the U.S. dollar on the defensive. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was off 0.07 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.03 per cent and 0.17 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed up 0.33 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.24 per cent. New York futures were modestly higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.37 US cents.


When it comes to Ontario’s vaccine passport system, where there’s a political will, there’s a way

“What Canada needs right now, given that a single national proof-of-vaccination app seems unlikely, is an investment in interoperability – meaning the various provincial apps should be able to “talk” to each other. Practically, someone travelling from Quebec to B.C. should be able to show proof of vaccination easily.” André Picard

Wedge politics at play in the Liberal Party’s campaign platform

“By Tuesday, as anti-vaccine demonstrators shouted while he spoke in Sudbury, Mr. Trudeau was drawing a sharp dividing line between the vaccinated – the people who had done the right thing, he said – and the anti-vaxxers that he said were putting kids at risk.

Then he drew a straight line between the demonstrators and Erin O’Toole, arguing the Conservative Leader is “siding with” the protesters when he argues that individuals must be able to make a personal choice about being vaccinated.” Campbell Clark

Trudeau finds the victimhood that the Liberal campaign needs

“So the enterprising candidate must be alert to opportunities arising from outside the political arena. Take, for example, the mobs of enraged anti-vax lunatics that have heckled and abused the Liberal Party Leader at campaign stops in rural Ontario.” Andrew Coyne

Refugees trapped between borders in Eastern Europe are victims of the most cynical kind of politics

“None of this adds up, because all sides are engaged in the most cynical kind of politics. Belarus is refusing to allow aid to reach the refugees while simultaneously boasting that it is helping with the evacuation of Afghans from Kabul. Poland, similarly, is refusing entry to Afghan refugees while simultaneously accepting thousands of Belarusians fleeing Mr. Lukashenko’s dictatorship.” Slawomir Sierakowski


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Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


This small gift of tobacco is also a heavy reminder of Canada’s history

When Filomena Calabrese rediscovers a container of sacred tobacco in her junk drawer, it makes her realize how much she fails to understand Indigenous issues. Her reflections prompt a resolve to view the land in a new light.

“With this gift in hand, I acknowledge the original keepers of this land, as well as the ways they cared for it since time immemorial before settlers arrived. Their sacred care of the land has enabled me to live, work and write freely.”

MOMENT IN TIME: Sept. 2, 1977

Trans pioneer Renée Richards competes at the U.S. Open

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Renee Richards, the transsexual tennis player, returns the ball in this Sept.1, 1977, photo during the U.S. Open Competition at Forest Hills, N.Y.DAVE PICKOFF/The Associated Press

In a different life, Renée Richards could have been a fixture on the mound at Yankee Stadium, hurling pitches for a living after being scouted by the Bronx Bombers as a youth. But it was on the other side of New York that Ms. Richards delivered her biggest curveball in sports, instead becoming one of the first professional athletes to identify as transgender, and competing in the U.S. Open. She had to fight to get there. Born Richard Raskind, she had captained the Yale men’s tennis team before becoming an ophthalmologist and marrying model Barbara Mole in 1970. Shortly after their divorce in 1975, Ms. Richards had reassignment surgery and tried to enter the 1976 U.S. Open as a woman. However, having been outed as transgender by reporter Richard Carlson – Tucker’s father – she was told to take a chromosome test. When she eventually agreed, the result was ambiguous and she was barred from competing. A lawsuit against the U.S. Tennis Association opened the gates for her to take part in 1977, where she lost against Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade. However, she made the doubles final, and climbed to No. 20 in the world before retiring in 1981. – Paul Attfield

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