Flags lowered to half mast across Canada to honour plane crash victims
Across the country, Canadian flags have been set to half mast to honour those who lost their lives in the Ukrainian plane crash on Wednesday. The crash claimed the lives of all 176 passengers on board—63 of them were Canadian and many more called Canada home.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s answers, when asked about what he was doing to deal with anti-pipeline protestors, has barely updated—despite Monday being the 12th day of the #ShutDownCanada protests.
Across the country, “Wet’suwet’en solidarity protests” have halted Canadian cargo and passenger trains, and have frequently blocked streets and highways, throwing a major wrench into Canada’s economy.
On Feb. 13, Trudeau told media in Munich that the protests would be dealt with promptly.
“We’re following very closely, I had a long and constructive conversation with Premier Horgan… Obviously, we’re a country of the rule of law, and we need to make sure those laws are followed.”
Now, after arriving from his week-long tour of several African nations, Trudeau re-appeared with a new, familiar message—one that gives no insight as to when or how these problems will be taken care of.
“We had a good meeting with morning with the incident response group, discussions with ministers, I made some phone calls to Indigenous leadership as well as a number of premiers. I understand how worrisome this is for so many Canadians and difficult for many families across the country. We’re going to continue to focus on resolving the situation quickly and peacefully, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Since Trudeau’s first response, CN Rail has been put in a situation where they have to temporarily lay off employees after ceasing operations of its whole network east of Toronto due to protests. VIA Rail has since cancelled over 400 trains nationwide, and these protests, in a country where ‘we need to make sure [the] laws are followed,” has affected over 83,000 passengers.
A number of demonstrations continue to take place important bridges as well, including the International Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.
Videos have also emerged of street blockades becoming potentially dangerous, as frustrated commuters have been seen keeping their foot on the gas pedal amidst a crowd.
Blockades have continued to cut off trains to the Maritimes, who are now feeling the serious effects.
On Sunday, Nathalie St-Pierre, the Canadian Propane Association president and CEO, told CBC that propane shortages will start to be seen in days, if things do not return to normal promptly.
“This is an emergency. People have to understand that, and those that are protesting have to understand that there needs to be a resumption of the services,” She said.
“We haven’t seen any progress in terms of finding solutions now for the issues of getting the transportation to be back to normal. So it’s very troublesome.”
“Some industries can switch back to oil or other sources, but that’s also going to run out eventually.”
Bombardier Inc. has announced that it will be selling its rail-building unit to the French-based Alstom SA. The sale marks Bombardier’s departure from the rail business.
Alstom announced plans to secure the deal with Bombardier and major shareholder Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec—a deal worth roughly $9 billion in stock and cash.
“I’m very proud to announce the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation, which is a unique opportunity to strengthen our global position on the booming mobility market,” Henri Poupart-Lafarge, chairman and CEO of Alstom, said in a news release.
“This acquisition will improve our global reach and our ability to respond to the ever-increasing need for sustainable mobility.”
The purchase is an important one for Alstom. In a market with competitors such as the Chinese-government owned CRRC, Alstom say they will be focusing on “further develop[ing] its presence in Quebec, Canada,” with plans for Montreal to become the headquarters for Alstom in North and South America.
Alstom also plans on establishing a centre of excellence for design and engineering, along with other high-tech research and development facilities.
“Alstom is committed to recovering Bombardier Transportation’s full operational and profitability potential with the objective of restoring project execution and margin towards standard level,” the press release reads.
This comes less than a week after Bombardier announced it was exiting the commercial plane business as well. The Trudeau government is not trying to retrieve a $372 million interest-free loan given to Bombardier in 2017, despite the company selling of core parts of its business.
Kristina Shramko has decided to remain in Wuhan in order to stay with her cat, Kitya. Wuhan has been under lockdown since Jan. 23 in the wake of the coronavirus that began there and has now infected at least 67,000 people and killed more than 1,500. The majority of cases have been in the Hubei province, where the city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is located.
China has so far quarantined more than 50 million people in the Hubei province and all transportation in and out has been shut down.
Shramko can leave her loft in Wuhan, although officers will check her temperature and she is required to wear a mask. Officers patrol the street and and shops to make sure that people comply with the precautions.
Shramko was born and raised in Vancouver and met her boyfriend in Wuhan during a month-long trip to the city. She moved there to be with him about a year prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Shramko’s boyfriend was not in Wuhan at the time of the shutdown due to a business trip. He isn’t allowed to return as per the quarantine rules, so he is currently staying with his family in another province.
Shramko had initially registered herself to be on an evacuation flight when Canadian authorities began chartering flights to get citizens back to Canada, however the strict no-pet policy forced Shramko to make the tough decision to remain in Wuhan to take care of her cat.
“I don’t know when the epidemic will be over so it’s kind of abandoning her in a way, even if I give her to a friend,” Shramko told Business Insider.
Shramko went on to describe the mental conditions of living in quarantine.
“After a month of just being alone and not having that much human interaction, it really takes its toll mentally,” Shramko said
“It’s pretty much a ghost town outside,” she said. “I live directly across from a huge mall and this mall was always packed with people. Even the street to get into the mall’s parking lot was always busy. Now, there are no cars at all and nobody outside.”
Shramko described many of the grocery stores shelves as being barren. She spends her time working on her YouTube channel, watching a Chinese version of Netflix, reading books and playing with Kitya.
She communicates often with her boyfriend and family back in Canada.
“They update me on what they’re hearing about the coronavirus in Canada and I let them know what’s going on in China,” she said.
The Chinese government has extended foreigner visas as a result of the epidemic, however money is getting tight for those forced to stay in quarantine.
“Nobody is working right now so there is no income,” Shramko said. “I’m trying to save as much money as possible since we don’t know when all of this will be over.”
Shramko was initially unphased by the coronavirus lockdown.
“In my mind, a super contagious and deadly virus just didn’t seem real,” she said. “It seemed like something you only saw in movies. After a few weeks, it really kicked in that this was a serious matter.”
Shramko said she understands the circumstances she’s in and doesn’t resent the Chinese government’s handling of the virus.
“I can’t say that I’ve put all my faith in the Chinese government, but I can say that they are doing their best,” she said. “It’s a highly contagious virus, so it’s hard to control.”
Shramko is getting restless to return to Canada now and wishes the government would allow her to take her cat on the plane.
“She’s been there for me throughout this whole quarantine,” Shramko said of her cat. “I should be there for her, too.”
The personal information of 144,000 Canadians has been mishandled by federal departments and agencies over the last two years according to the House of Commons figures.
CBC News reported that the Privacy Commissioner’s office noted that they saw “strong indications of systemic under-reporting.”
Many people who were affected by the privacy breaches were not notified.
The breaches were not explained by the federal government when they received an order paper question from Conservative MP Dean Allison. The errors were anywhere from small mistakes to large breaches that included sensitive and personal information.
David Fraser, a Halifax lawyer at McInnes Cooper said, “There’s a significant problem with the way that the government protects personal information.”
“The numbers that we’re consistently seeing reported out of the federal government are higher than they should be and significantly higher in my view.”
Most of the breaches involved the Canadian Revenue Agency with over 3,005 different incidents that ultimately affected around 60,000 Canadians. The breaches took place between Jan 1 2018 and Dec 10, 2019.
The reasons the department gives for these errors are security occurrences, misdirected mail and employee misconduct.
CRA spokesperson, Etienne Biram said, “We consider a single privacy breach to be one too many. Two-thirds of the total individuals affected were as a result of three unfortunate but isolated incidents.”
In January 2019, the personal information of 11,780 people was accidentally made accessible to employees of the CRA.
Another incident involved one CRA employee who was able to view the information of 11,745 people by accessing certain accounts.
“These individuals are not notified since the risk to them is deemed to be extremely low,” said Biram.
Throughout the same time period, Health Canada saw 122 breaches which affected about 24,000 people.
CBC had 17 breaches resulting in the information of over 20,000 employees being at risk.
There were over 2,000 combined breaches within Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada.
Some of the breaches at Employment and Social Development Canada included birth certificates and passports being mishandled and sometimes lost.
Errors were also reported by the RCMP, the Communications Security Establishment, Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Department of National Defence.
Fraser noted that private sector firms follow strict rules by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the government should have higher standards for breaches and the protection on personal information.
“In the private sector, individuals can choose what businesses they do business with. If they don’t like the privacy practices of a bank, they can go to another,” Fraser told CBC News.
“But we don’t get to choose as citizens what governments we deal with, and governments are custodians of a significant amount of highly sensitive personal information.”
An Office of the Privacy Commissioner spokesperson noted that the order paper question is still being reviewed.
Vito Pilieci said, “We have raised concerns about strong indications of systemic under-reporting of certain types of breaches across government.”
Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy at University of Ottawa, Teresa Scassa said that when the government makes errors like this, they can not be trusted to always report their mistakes.
“That is the classic conundrum. On the one hand, you don’t want to get people so used to data breaches … so that every time they get a notification they think, ‘Whatever, doesn’t matter.’ You want people to pay attention when it’s necessary to pay attention,” said. Scassa
“At the same time, you don’t want the discretion being exercised on the side of avoiding embarrassment, so that internally the nature of the severity of the breaches is played down because an organization really just doesn’t want to have to own up to the fact that they’ve had a significant data breach.”