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COVID travel restrictions announcement, Fiona's aftermath : In The News for Sept. 26

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Sept. 26 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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Vehicles wait in line for customs check at the Ambassador Bridge which spans the Detroit River between Michigan and Windsor in Windsor, Ont., on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. The federal government is expected to officially announce the end of COVID-19 border restrictions today, including mandatory vaccinations, testing and quarantine of international travellers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Sept. 26 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The federal government is expected to officially announce the end of COVID-19 border restrictions today, including mandatory vaccinations, testing and quarantine of international travellers.

Two senior government sources aware of the decision confirmed the cabinet order maintaining COVID-19 border measures will not be renewed when it expires on Sept. 30.

The sources spoke to The Canadian Press last week on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The change will mean foreign nationals will no longer require an approved series of vaccinations to enter the country.

It also means Canada-bound travellers will no longer be subject to random mandatory COVID-19 tests. 

The requirement for unvaccinated Canadians to isolate when they return to the country and the mandatory use of the ArriveCan app will also end with the expired order. 

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Also this ...

Residents of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec are coming to terms with the full scope of the damage left behind after post-tropical storm Fiona tore through the region over the weekend as one of the strongest storms Canada's East Coast has ever faced.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are being deployed to help with recovery efforts, with federal Defence Minister Anita Anand saying Sunday that about 100 troops a piece were either in place or en route to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. to provide assistance with the cleanup effort.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the immediate need is to provide food and shelter for those displaced by the storm, which is why the federal government is matching donations to the Canadian Red Cross.

However, he added that Ottawa will work with provinces to determine what is needed for recovery from a financial perspective, especially for Canadians who have lost everything. He said the first priority is the restoration of power and utilities, as well as clearing roadways to get essential supplies to those who need them.

At Fiona's peak on Saturday, more than 500,000 customers across Atlantic Canada were without power, but by early Monday morning that number had been lowered to less than 300,000, with the vast majority in Nova Scotia. But even as crews workaround the clock to repair downed lines, some utility companies warned it could be days before the power is back on for everyone.

Authorities in western Newfoundland confirmed Fiona's first Canadian fatality on Sunday. RCMP said a 73-year-old woman's body was recovered from the water more than 24 hours after a massive wave struck her home, tearing away part of the basement. Her name was not immediately released.

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And this too ...

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is urging countries to uphold women’s rights and abortion access while rooting out sexual violence, as the United Nations General Assembly comes to a close.

In a speech today in New York, Joly will summarize Canada’s priorities and concerns in foreign relations.

That includes being part of “a global coalition in support of equality” that will “defend against the growing attacks on women's rights and freedoms,” according to drafted remarks in French.

“Sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls are being rolled back or denied in too many countries,” Joly’s drafted remarks say. 

“Canada will always stand up for your right to choose.”

Though the drafted section on women’s rights does not mention the United States, Joly’s comments come after months of backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court allowing states to ban abortions, with some seeking to prosecute those who help women end their pregnancies in other jurisdictions. 

Joly’s remarks instead mention women targeted by autocratic governments, such as the Taliban preventing Afghan girls from attending school. She calls out Myanmar’s military junta imprisoning female democracy activists and sexually assaulting Rohingya women.

The speech cites Iran’s crackdown on protesters seeking accountability after the death of Mahsa Amini, when morality police arrested her for "unsuitable attire" in allegedly wearing a hijab improperly. Joly also notes Ukrainian women have been subjected to sexual violence by occupying Russian forces.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

Residents in Florida are keeping a cautious eye on tropical storm Ian as it rumbled ominously through the Caribbean on a path toward the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency throughout Florida and urged residents to prepare for the storm to lash large swaths of the state with heavy rains, high winds and rising seas.

Forecasters are still unsure of exactly where Ian could make landfall, with current models plotting it toward Florida's west coast or panhandle regions, he said.

"We're going to keep monitoring the track of this storm. But it really is important to stress the degree of uncertainty that still exists,'' DeSantis said at a news conference Sunday, cautioning that "even if you're not necessarily right in the eye of the path of the storm, there's going to be pretty broad impacts throughout the state.''

Flash and urban flooding is possible in the Florida Keys and Florida peninsula through mid-week, and then heavy rainfall was possible for north Florida, the Florida panhandle and the southeast United States later this week.

Authorities in Cuba suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and said they will begin evacuations Monday as Ian was forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before reaching the western part of the island on its way to Florida.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Ian should reach the far-western part of Cuba late Monday or early Tuesday, hitting near the country's most famed tobacco fields. It could become a major hurricane on Tuesday.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KYIV, Ukraine _ After seven weary months of war, many Ukrainians fear more suffering and political repression awaits them as referendums orchestrated by the Kremlin with help from gun-toting police portend Russia's imminent annexation of four occupied regions.

Many residents fled the regions before the referendums got underway, scared about being forced to vote or potentially being conscripted into the Russian army.

Petro Kobernik, who left the Russian-held southern city of Kherson just before the preordained voting began Friday, said the prospect of living under Russian law and the escalating war made him and others extremely jittery about the future.

"The situation is changing rapidly, and people fear that they will be hurt either by the Russian military, or Ukrainian guerrillas and the advancing Ukrainian troops,'' Kobernik, 31, said in a telephone interview.

As some Russian officials brought ballots to neighbourhoods accompanied by armed police, Kobernik said his 70-year-old father shut the door of his private house in the village of Novotroitske _ part of Kherson _ and vowed not to let anyone in.

The referendums, denounced by Kyiv and its Western allies as rigged, are taking place in the Russian-controlled Luhansk and Kherson regions, and in occupied areas of the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions. They are widely viewed as a pretext for annexation, and Russian authorities are expected to announce the regions as theirs once the vote ends Tuesday.

The Kremlin has used this tactic before. In 2014, it held a hastily called referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region to justify annexation of the Black Sea peninsula, a move that was denounced as illegitimate by most of the world.

Ukrainian authorities have told residents of the four Russian-occupied regions that they would face criminal punishment if they cast ballots and advised them to leave.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who began mobilizing more troops for the war last week, said he's ready to use nuclear weapons to protect territory in a clear threat to Ukraine to halt its attempts to reclaim the regions.

Putin's escalating rhetoric and politically risky decision to call up as many as 300,000 army reservists comes after Russians were hastily forced to retreat from large swaths of northeastern Ukraine earlier this month. A fierce Ukrainian counteroffensive continues in the country's east and south.

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On this day in 1990 ...

The Oka crisis ended when Mohawk Warriors laid down their weapons after a 78-day standoff with Quebec police and Canadian soldiers. The standoff began July 11 when police raided a barricade set up to protest the expansion of a golf course on land claimed by the Mohawks. It ended, as it began, with violence. Unarmed Mohawks and Warriors got into wild scuffles with police and soldiers. By the end, army officials had taken 34 men, 16 women and six children into custody. One police officer was killed.

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In entertainment ...

Sprinter Andre De Grasse, sports anchor Kayla Grey and filmmaker Fabienne Colas were among the honourees at The Legacy Awards last night in Toronto. 

Billed as the first major awards to celebrate Black talent in the country, the event was hosted and founded by Toronto actors and brothers Shamier Anderson and Stephan James, because the screen stars said they would see few people of colour at the awards shows they would get invited to.

Grey, a Toronto-based sports broadcaster and producer, received the Jahmil French Award — named after the late Canadian actor — given to a “rising star” within the Canadian media landscape. She said she was moved by the gala and reminded of why the work she does is important. 

De Grasse, a six-time Olympic medallist, was honoured as Athlete of the Year for his "accomplishments in sport in Canada and the world along with his contribution to the Black Canadian Identity.”

Meanwhile, film festival founder, actor and Haitian-Canadian director Colas was honoured with the Visionnaire Award for supporting diversity on and off the screen.

The evening also featured live performances by Canada’s most prominent Black musicians such as Kardinal Offishall, Deborah Cox, Fefe Dobson, Alicia Mighty and Melanie Fiona.

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Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will represent Canada at former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's state funeral this week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to visit Japan and attend Tuesday's funeral, but cancelled those plans to oversee recovery efforts after post-tropical storm Fiona ravaged much of Eastern Canada and parts of Quebec.

Describing Abe as a friend and ally of Canada, Champagne says the former Japanese prime minister played an important role bringing the two countries closer together.

Trudeau was slated to meet current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as Japan prepares to take over as president of the G7 and the Liberal government finalizes its new Indo-Pacific strategy.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Champagne says he doesn't know if he will meet Kishida on behalf of Trudeau.

But he says in addition to paying respects to Abe, he expects to meet Japanese officials to discuss the bilateral relationship and areas of mutual co-operation.

"Certainly, I think Prime Minister Kishida knows how deeply engaged we have been, certainly on the industrial, commercial and economic front,'' he said.

"And we'll be meeting with a number of people. I just don't know if the meeting with the prime minister will still be happening.''

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

The Canadian Press

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