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‘We wish we could have saved everyone’: Canadian mission in Kabul has ended

CLAIREFENTON | posted Thursday, Aug 26th, 2021

OTTAWA — The vast majority of remaining Canadian personnel have been evacuated from the Taliban-controlled city of Kabul.

Canada’s acting Chief of the Defence Staff says the Armed Forces wishes it could have saved everyone as evacuation efforts in Afghanistan have ceased just days before the U.S. was set to leave the country.

“We stayed in Afghanistan as long as we could,” said Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre.

The final flight left the airport around 9 p.m. PT with hundreds on board, although the military did not provide details on who was on that flight, or how many people.

“We wish we could have saved everyone,” Eyre said Thursday morning on the end to personal recovery operations.

“The conditions our Armed Forces were working under are unlike anything we’ve seen in decades,” said Eyre.

More than 3,700 Canadians, permanent residents, and Afghans were safely rescued in recent weeks.

Eyre says Canadian forces could not stay any longer, or do more than they were able to, as the speed in which the terrorist organization gained power took all allies by surprise.

He says the Taliban has tightened its noose in the country, and had closed the perimeter around the airport. New warnings emerged overnight of a potential attack on the airport, with an explosion hitting just outside the airport Thursday night. He says the Canadian military was under constant threat, and had received word of numerous attacks being planned against its members.

A small liaison team will be on the ground to help with coordination with allies for the next day or two, while conditions permit.

Calling the mission, “one of the largest, most complex, and dangerous in modern history,” Eyre added, “operations like this take a toll on our people.”

He says he is concerned about the wellness of troops involved who had to witness the despair of thousands of people in the country, as well as the hundreds who tried to flee and failed.

“The feeling of guilt in having to leave people behind is overwhelming,” he said.

Describing the images as heart wrenching, he says they could only direct people left behind to information resources.

“We are human, and these horrifying stories will stay with us, in most cases, for life.”

In the coming weeks and months, Canada will put a focus on its humanitarian work and Immigration Canada has confirmed that visa applications are still being processed. Canada has pledged to help 20,000 Afghans settle in the country, many of them have not arrived yet, and are currently based in several cities as they await transportation assistance from Canada and the U.S.

Global Affairs Canada says officials are devastated that many Canadians and Afghans were left behind.

“We recognize that today’s announcement will be distressing news for those who are still in Afghanistan and wish to leave,” Global Affairs Canada Cindy Termorschulze said.

“For our fellow citizens in Afghanistan, if you need to move to a safer location please do so with great caution. Use your judgement to decide the best time and the safest means to do so. Assess the risk carefully as you take the necessary steps to ensure your security and that of your family.”

With files from The Canadian Press

Salad kit recalled due to Listeria concerns sold in Ontario, possibly other provinces and territories

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 25th, 2021

Curation Foods is recalling its Eat Smart brand Asian Sesame Chopped Salad Kit over a possible Listeria contamination.

The recall covers 340g packages with a best before date of Aug. 24.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the salad kits were sold in Ontario, and possibly nationally.

There have been no reports of any illnesses linked to the product.

Food contaminated with Listeria may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick.

Symptoms can include nausea, fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness, and in some cases even death.

Does Jagmeet Singh deserve a second chance?

THE BIG STORY | posted Wednesday, Aug 25th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, after a poor showing in the 2019 election campaign—his first as NDP leader—there were questions about if Jagmeet Singh would keep his job long enough to get a second try. He has, and so far the results have been very different. What has to break right for the NDP to take aim at an upset victory? What assets do they have both in platform and personality? How should they be planning the next few weeks if they want to try to replicate the Liberals’ underdog win of 2015?

This is the first in a series of episodes examining how the major party leaders could each become Prime Minister.

GUEST: Jen Gerson, The Line; Maclean’s

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

How did legal pot become such a tough business?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Aug 24th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, three years ago, cannabis stocks were the hottest things on the market. Weed was about to become legal in Canada and it seemed everyone was going to get rich in the process. Today, millions of grams sit untouched, going stale on shelves. Some of the industry’s biggest names have gone through round after round of layoffs. And even now, almost half of the pot sold in Canada is on the black market. How did Canada’s legal pot industry blow its opportunity?

GUEST: Kieran Delamont, writing in The Walrus

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

All 3 main party leaders will campaign in Ontario on Tuesday

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 24th, 2021

Day nine of the federal election campaign sees all three main party leaders in Ontario.

After spending the past several days in Atlantic Canada, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau starts his day with an announcement in Hamilton.

Trudeau was on the defense Monday after a tweet from his deputy prime minister was labelled “manipulated media” in its attempt to portray Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole as a supporter of private health care.

Twitter flagged the tweet from Chrystia Freeland, who is seeking re-election in Toronto, after she posted spliced-together clips of O’Toole answering a question about private, for-profit options in universal health coverage.

Meantime, O’Toole is staying in Ottawa, where he will also make a morning announcement before holding virtual telephone townhalls with Quebec and British Columbia.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will kick off his Tuesday with an announcement on long-term care in Mississauga. He’ll then make a whistle stop with Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and NDP Hamilton-area candidates in Amherstburg before meeting with supporters at the campaign office of another local candidate in the area.

Canada ‘working tirelessly’ to evacuate citizens from Kabul

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Aug 23rd, 2021

Another 121 Afghan nationals, Canadian citizens and family members have left Kabul on a rescue flight — Canada’s third evacuation mission since the Taliban overtook the Afghan capital.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says as long as it’s safe, Canada will continue working toward getting people out of the chaos.

Sajjan says the security conditions in Kabul are changing rapidly, but Canadian personnel are doing everything in their power to get people to safety.

He says continued crowding and violence around the Kabul airport is posing a major challenge for efforts to get more flights out, noting security conditions are changing by the hour.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will convene a meeting of leaders from the Group of Seven nations on Tuesday for “urgent talks on the situation in Afghanistan.”

Johnson revealed the plan in a statement posted on Twitter.

He says it’s “vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years.”

The U.K. holds this year’s presidency of the G7 nations, which is also made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

There was no immediate word from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s camp on whether he would take time away from the election campaign to attend the meeting.

Trudeau has faced criticism in recent days for not acting fast enough to evacuate Afghans who supported Canada’s military and diplomatic efforts in the war-torn country.

Federal party leaders kick off 2nd full week of campaigning

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Aug 23rd, 2021

The main federal party leaders are in central and eastern Canada as the election campaign enters its second full week.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau remains on the East Coast today, making an announcement in Halifax before heading to St. John’s, N.L., to meet with locals and supporters.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, meanwhile, returns to the Ottawa hotel where he spent the first several days of the campaign.

He’s set to make an announcement in the morning, followed by two of the “virtual telephone town halls” that have become a hallmark of his election outreach later in the day.

O’Toole has faced criticism from his opponents for spending so much time on the fourth floor of the Westin, but he says he’s simply a pandemic-era leader making safety-driven decisions.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh plans to make an announcement about climate change in Montreal, where he launched his campaign and is trying to win back seats from the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois.

C-17 military planes flying into Afghanistan reconfigured to maximize amount of passengers

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 20th, 2021

Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande says the C-17 military transport planes flying into Afghanistan have been reconfigured to maximize the number of passengers they can carry.

She says the planes are already flying in and out of Kabul and that troops will be given a list of vetted and vulnerable Afghans and will be helping them board the flights.

Lamirande says the flights will carry foreign and Afghan nationals who have been accepted under the immigration programs of other nations.

And she adds that other nations have, and will continue to, extract Canadian citizens or Afghans who are destined for or eligible for immigration to Canada.

The effort to get former Afghan interpreters and their families out of Afghanistan is gathering momentum in the face of complaints about roadblocks in Kabul and bureaucratic hurdles in Ottawa.

Yesterday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau revealed the Canadian military had arrived back in Afghanistan to help with evacuation efforts.

At the same time, he admitted Canada would probably not be able to get everyone out of Afghanistan that it wants to.

Statistics Canada says retail sales gained 4.2% in June as restrictions eased

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 20th, 2021

Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 4.2 per cent to $56.2 billion in June as public health restrictions were eased in many parts of the country.

However, the agency says its preliminary estimate for July, which will be revised, suggests retail sales fell 1.7 per cent last month.

For June, retail sales increased in eight of the 11 subsectors as clothing and clothing accessories stores led the way with a gain of 49.1 per cent following two months of declines.

Sales at general merchandise stores rose 7.4 per cent, while motor vehicle and parts dealers gained 2.7 per cent.

Sales at food and beverage stores fell 2.6 per cent as sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores dropped 3.5 per cent. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers fell 3.1 per cent.

Retail sales in volume terms rose 4.1 per cent in June.

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