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By early July, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who return home from travelling will be able to skip mandatory 14-day quarantine, as long as they test negative for COVID-19, the federal government announced Wednesday.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said rising vaccination rates and lower case counts are behind the planned easing of border restrictions. Dominic Leblanc, Minster of Intergovernmental Affairs, cautioned these changes will only be implemented if new COVID-19 case counts keep dropping and vaccination efforts “continues to go well.”
ATTACK ON A MUSLIM FAMILY IN LONDON, ONT.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was probably an element of online “incitation to violence” that will have to be considered in light of the fatal attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont.
Mr. Trudeau made the observation during a virtual conversation at the opening of the Progressive Governance Digital Summit 2021.
During a question-and-answer session, the Prime Minister said the reasons for the Sunday incident that left four people dead and a child injured are not yet clear, but “there is probably an element of online incitation to violence or access of things that we have to think about.”
He did not elaborate.
On Monday, London Police Chief Steve Williams told a news conference: “We believe that this was an intentional act and that the victims of this horrific incident were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”
Echoing his comments earlier this week, Mr. Trudeau said Wednesday that there is a responsibility across society to ensure common cause in cracking down on hatred, and not allowing people who represent a small fringe of society to “take actions that weaken the fabric and coming together of our entire communities.”
On Sunday, five family members of the Afzaal family were out for a walk, and waiting to cross an intersection, when a pickup truck drove onto the curb and hit them. Four were killed, and a nine-year-old boy is in hospital.
The 20-year-old driver was arrested and has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
CALL FOR ACTION - Outside the London, Ont., mosque where the Afzaal family once worshipped, community leaders, politicians and people of all faiths gathered to mourn three generations of a family, and call for collective action against anti-Islamic hate. In about two hours of speeches, speakers at the vigil on Tuesday repeatedly called for both personal and political action to address racism, hatred and Islamophobia, including a national summit on Islamophobia and action against hate groups. Story here.
SUSPECT BOUGHT NEW TRUCK - A 20-year-old man accused of using his pickup truck as a weapon in a mass killing targeting a Muslim family acquired a 2016 Dodge Ram just three weeks before the deadly attack. An eyewitness to the man’s arrest says the truck had a collision bar, a device that protects the front end of a vehicle. He said the man who got out of the truck was wearing a helmet and what looked like a bulletproof vest as police took him into custody. Story here.
EXPLAINER - Explainer here on the attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont.: What we know so far about the killings and suspect.
QUEBEC MAYOR OFFERS SUPPORT - The mayor of Quebec City says the attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont., Sunday night is proof there needs to be a sweeping public debate on intolerance in Canada. Régis Labeaume, who experienced similar horror in the 2017 attack on the Quebec City mosque, said he will try to reach out to the mayor of London, Ed Holder, to express his solidarity. From The Montreal Gazette.
LONDON POLICE BOARD CHAIR SPEAKS OUT - The outgoing chair of the police board in London says there has been an “unprecedented” level of fear among members of the Muslim community in Canada about being able to go for a walk or “just exist.” Javeed Sukhera, also a psychiatrist and activist, tells TVO, “I do think that, to a degree, this has been an attack on the sense of safety for many Muslims in Canada.” Interview here.
Sheema Khan (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on how the London attack reaffirms why Muslims often feel unsafe in their own country: “What kind of world are we living in? For Muslims, it is unfortunately one where the slow drumbeat of hate-filled violence has become louder. The 2017 Quebec City massacre, in which worshippers were gunned down at a mosque – a place of spiritual refuge – shook all of us to the core. As a nation, we vowed to fight the scourge of Islamophobia. Muslims wondered if a visit to their local mosque might be their last. Such was, and is, the fear. Enhanced safety features – including screened entries and guards – became the uneasy norm. Yet this was still not enough back in September, when 58-year-old Mohamed-Aslim Zafis was killed outside an Etobicoke, Ont., mosque by an apparent white supremacist.”
OTHER HEADLINES TODAY:
FALLOUT FROM GREEN PARTY DISPUTE - The fallout from internal feuds in the Green party continues amid accusations of intolerance and strong-arm tactics against some members. The Canadian Press is reporting that the party’s executive committee has voted not to renew the contract of a senior adviser to Leader Annamie Paul when it expires next month.
BID FOR TMX PIPELINE -Pembina Pipeline Corp. has joined with an Indigenous-owned group to propose an offer for the Trans Mountain oil pipeline, marking the first time a major energy company has signalled its intention to bid for the line now being expanded. Ottawa paid Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. $4.5-billion for Trans Mountain in 2018, as the company prepared to halt the project because of regulatory and court delays.
NDP CALLS FOR GENOCIDE LABEL - New Democrats are calling on the federal government to recognize what happened at residential schools as genocide. In a motion to be tabled in the House of Commons, NDP MP Leah Gazan is asking fellow lawmakers to unanimously deem the institutions’ history as the deliberate, systemic destruction of a cultural group.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Private meetings. The Prime Minister participates in a virtual conversation during the Summit opening of the Progressive Governance Digital Summit 2021. He also virtually attends the national caucus meeting.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet will hold a Parliament Hill news conference.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will speak to media after the NDP national caucus meeting. Mr. Singh will then attend Question Period, and later meet with the Ontario Native Women’s Association.
According to the Angus Reid Institute, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are experiencing notable pandemic-related declines in job performance approval now affecting their parties’ respective political fortunes. Meanwhile Newfoundland’s Andrew Furey and Nova Scotia’s Iain Rankin have seen a surge in support. Details on a new premiers’ performance poll here.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Canadians turned a bronze medal COVID-19 vaccine supply into a gold medal vaccination rate: “But having taken the global lead in first shots, Canada is now going back to the starting line in the next event: second shots. As with the early frames of the first-dose campaign, we’re starting from near the back of the pack. Fewer than 10 per cent of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated. The U.S. figure is more than 50 per cent. That’s the next gap Canada has to close. Unlike the first-shot race, which has taken more than five months – and isn’t over yet – this next event has to be completed quickly. The quicker, the better.”
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the “dangerous” nonsense of Alberta’s equalization vote: “It’s nonsense, of course. Alberta can hold a referendum on equalization if it likes, but it cannot on its own amend or delete the provision of the Constitution committing the federal government to providing it. Neither can it compel the federal government or the other provinces to do so, no matter how large a majority of Albertans might vote in favour. So while it’s good that the government of Alberta has finally disclosed the wording of the question it intends to put to its citizens this fall (“Should Section 36(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 – Parliament and the government of Canada’s commitment to the principle of making equalization payments – be removed from the Constitution?”), it’s still the same baseless fantasy it always was. That does not mean the vote will have no impact: Nonsense can be dangerous.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney continuing to give in to his worst impulses: “At some point, if he hopes to survive, the Premier is going to have to do something that does not come naturally to him: He is going to have to admit his broader failings, issue a sweeping apology for the lousy job he’s done to this point and promise to do better with a concrete action plan. To press the restart button, he is going to have to swallow his pride. Otherwise, he will join the ranks of those who lost the plot and thought they were more important than the position they held. And paid the ultimate price for it.”
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