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EDMONTON — Alberta’s top doctor says it’s very likely that second doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be offered within less than four months of the first as supplies ramp up. 

The province authorized a 16-week interval in order to get as many people protected with their first shots as possible while vaccine shipments remained uncertain. For Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the drug makers say the gaps between doses should be three weeks and one month, respectively. 

“I want to be clear that that four-month interval was always a maximum,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday. 

“We were never planning to require a wait of four months. It was really about we would not have anyone go beyond four months, but if we can offer it sooner, we will.”

People on immunosuppressive drugs, like chemotherapy, are already being offered their second shots in a shortened time frame, Hinshaw said. 

She noted that for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, there is evidence that a 12-week wait between doses is more effective than a shorter interval. 

As of Monday, all Albertans born in 2009 and earlier will be able to book their first shot.

On Thursday, some 100,000 people born in 1991 and earlier booked their first vaccine appointments. After that, the province will be able to start offering followup doses, Hinshaw said. 

So far, 1.73 million doses of vaccine have been given in Alberta.

Alberta recorded 2,211 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Thursday. There were 654 people in hospital, including 146 in intensive care.

More than 11 per cent of tests came back positive.

 Hinshaw also reiterated that the province is no longer testing every positive COVID-19 swab for variants. Instead, labs are testing a representative sample. 

“This frees up crucial lab capacity to ensure that people get their COVID-19 test results back as soon as possible, which is the most important thing we can do with our lab capacity to minimize further transmission.” 

She added that anyone with a positive test should assume they have contracted a variant, as variants are now dominant in the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021. 

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary.

The Canadian Press

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OTTAWA — The top aide to imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny told Canadian MPs on Thursday that the best way to help Navalny is to put sanctions on oligarchs who are allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Leonid Volkov, speaking by video from Lithuania, began by telling the House of Commons foreign affairs committee about the suffering Navalny has gone through, including being poisoned and imprisoned due to his anti-Kremlin stance. (The Russian government denies involvement with the poisoning.)

Navalny’s allies are under constant threat of prosecution by Russian authorities, Volkov said, and his opposition movement is expected to soon be declared illegal by a Russian court.

When asked by Conservative MP Kerry Diotte what Canada can do to help Navalny, Volkov advised focusing on the almighty ruble.

“Putin really cares very much about money,” Volkov said, citing a recent investigation by his team into Putin’s luxury palace on the Black Sea. “So our short answer is to sanction his close friends, his oligarchs, the holders of his assets.”

In March, Canada joined the United States and the European Union in sanctioning nine senior Russian officials over Nalvany’s treatment, including Russia’s top prosecutor, the head of Russia’s prison system, and the head of the FSB, Russia’s main security agency.

But the sanctions did not target businessmen allied with Putin, and Volkov said going after such oligarchs would be the best way to exert pressure. However, he also acknowledged that it would be impossible to cut off Putin’s source of funds.

“The idea is to build leverage against Putin and his friends, because every time Europe or U.S. tries to build bridges, to compromise, to build a dialogue, unfortunately Putin, in his psychology considers it to be just a sign of weakness,” Volkov said.

“(Sanctions) would allow veteran leaders to talk to Putin from a much stronger position than they talk now, because money really matters a lot for him. That’s our idea. Appeasement politics, unfortunately, has failed.”

Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, sympathized with Volkov but also defended Canada’s approach to sanctions so far. Oliphant said Canada has to follow its own laws and work with allies such as the U.S. and U.K. when deciding who to sanction.

“I understand how complicated these processes are, how many legal complications,” Volkov said in response. But he said that when it comes to international partners, Canada should focus on getting the U.K. on board with more sanctions.

“Let me suggest that the key part of the story is the U.K. here,” Volkov said. “If you can kind of push and influence the U.K. informally, it’s the most essential because 80 per cent of those assets in question are being stashed in London.”

“I will just mention that the government is aware of that, and there are conversations,” Oliphant responded.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong listed off other names of Russian officials alleged to be complicit in poisoning or imprisoning other dissidents, and asked whether Volkov wants to see Canada impose sanctions on them as well.

 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a hearing to consider an appeal against an earlier court decision to change his suspended sentence to a real prison term, in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2021.

Volkov agreed with Chong’s suggestions, but said such sanctions would be largely symbolic. He repeated that the best strategy would be to go after oligarch assets.

This was the foreign affairs committee’s second attempt to speak to Volkov, after a first attempt on April 22 was

foiled by Russian pranksters

who’ve pulled a similar stunt on politicians from other Western democracies.

Volkov told the committee that Navalny has now been imprisoned for 108 days and is currently recovering from a hunger strike.

“The requirement of his hunger strike was to get doctors of his choosing, trusted doctors, to mind him,” Volkov said. He said a compromise was eventually reached and Navalny has been getting better medical treatment now.

“He’s recovering from the hunger strike, but it takes time,” Volkov said. “The hunger strike lasted for 24 days, you need pretty much the same time for a safe recovery.”

The short term outlook for Navalny’s opposition movement looks rough, with

a Moscow court expected to declare the movement illegal later this month

and ban its followers from running in elections.

But Volkov said he still believes the longer term outlook is hopeful.

“There is a generational change,” he said. “In the federal level polls, Putin is still doing very good. But in polling for voters under 30, Navalny is doing better than Putin, even despite all the force of the propaganda machine … So the clock is ticking in our favour. It’s a slow, historical process, but it’s inevitable.”

• Email: bplatt@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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REGINA — Saskatchewan is extending its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan to include children aged 12 and older with expected first doses by the end of the school year.

Officials told a news conference Thursday the vaccines will be administered in school-based programs, pharmacies and clinics.

Health Minister Paul Merriman said the plan to offer shots in schools and timelines, as well as the parental consent process, are still being finalized.

When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in schools, the province said parents can expect to hear from public health officials and from their school divisions.

The announcement comes a day after Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 and up.

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said vaccine trials in younger children remain underway.

"We fully expect those trials to be very positive in terms of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines," he said. "We fully expect that by July or August, we will have information on vaccinations in children under 11.

"We don't expect them to be very different from the vaccinations that are already available."

Also Thursday, the province reported 156 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active infections to 2,158. There were 173 people in hospital due to the virus, and 41 of them were in intensive care.

The province said that later this month it will begin scheduling second vaccine doses for those 85 and older, or those who received their first dose before Feb. 15. The second-dose rollout is to be offered to people in the same sequence as the first doses.

And while first shots will continue to be offered at the same time as second doses, Merriman said he expects minimal overlap.

"It's going to happen so quickly, it will only be a couple days' overlap," he said. 

The province is also delivering vaccines to pharmacies, a process that Merriman said is going "extremely well."

He encouraged everybody who is eligible for their first or second dose to get it. 

"After 14 long months, we are finally getting past the point of controlling COVID-19," said Merriman.

"We are now in a position where we can beat COVID-19. But there's only one way to do that, and that's by everybody getting vaccinated … the end is in sight, but we have to keep going."

Officials project that all Saskatchewan adults will be eligible to book their second dose by July 31.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021. 

— By Julia Peterson in Saskatoon

The Canadian Press

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Jagmeet Singh carries mixed views on B.C.'s mega-projects, annoyance with Ottawa's inability to make a vaccine and varied thoughts on how Canada compares on racism.

With an election in the air, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is doubling down on how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s six-year-old government has done next to nothing to combat runaway housing prices.


MP for Burnaby South

would follow the B.C. NDP and bring in a national 15-per cent foreign-buyers tax on housing, a Canada-wide tax on underused dwellings and a crackdown on international money laundering.

“There are things putting pressure on housing that need to be stopped,” Singh said in a wide-ranging interview from his apartment in Ottawa. They include the way Canada is used internationally and domestically as “a safe place to drop your money into the housing market, to treat it like a commodity or a stock.”

Money laundering, Singh added, is “directly contributing to the rising cost of housing.” But the Liberals, he said, have failed to properly staff the department that is supposed to crack down on the movement of dirty money. The NDP leader wants Ottawa to subsidize more housing construction. And he’s not opposed to rent controls.

With Singh highly popular among Canadians under age 34, the ones most concerned about housing affordability, he expressed concern that “young people are faced with the reality that they are the first generation in recent memory to have it worse than the previous generation.”

Singh, 42, was loquacious and cheerful as he took on a string of tricky issues that impact B.C., Canada and the interconnected planet, which is struggling with a pandemic and what the NDP leader considers the often dubious impact of globalization.

With Angus Reid polling showing the NDP drawing the approval of 19 per cent of voters, with the Liberals at 35 per cent and Conservatives at 31 per cent, here are more things Singh had to say about some of the difficult issues of our era:

 NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks during the Federal NDP Convention in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.

B.C.'s three contentious megaprojects

Singh is onside with B.C. Premier John Horgan in opposing the way Trudeau has poured billions of taxpayer dollars into the 1,150-kilometre Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to Burnaby. And, realizing that former B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark deliberately propelled construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam “to the point of no return” he understands why Horgan “is doing the best he can” by completing the $16-billion project.

As a champion of renewable energy, however, Singh showed no enthusiasm for Coastal’s 670-kilometre LNG pipeline to Kitimat, which the B.C. NDP is pressing on with despite blockades by the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en. Singh placed himself on the sidelines of the LNG dispute, saying he’s talked directly with both the Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary and elected chiefs. Even while they angrily disagree with each other, he said the Wet’suwet’en themselves have to resolve the “complicated” conflict.

Ottawa's lack of a "made-in-Canada" vaccine policy

Recognizing the pandemic remains an overriding concern among Canadians, Singh often brought the conversation back to it — including his annoyance at the Liberals slow vaccine rollout.

Unlike Britain, which he said was no further ahead on creating a vaccine than Canada when the pandemic began, Singh suggested the Liberals are so enamoured with globalization that they failed to put effort into developing a “made-in-Canada” vaccine — or anything else.

Along with patting his own party on the back for pressing for increased social-service benefits and paid sick days for people waylaid by COVID-19, Singh is disturbed Ottawa lacks a policy on developing homegrown industry. He was stunned to learn Canada Post doesn’t even manufacture its own community mailboxes in this country:

It farms out their production to Denmark


Canadians who back India's protesting farmers

Singh is a staunch supporter of the

ongoing mass protests

by farmers in India against agricultural reforms attempted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

An orthodox Sikh whose parents immigrated to Ontario from the Punjab, Singh is in the unusual situation of being barred from India because of earlier complaints he made about the government’s treatment of Sikhs. While he ranked Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s emphasis on China’s rising authoritarianism as a “fringe issue,” he was not afraid to ramp up his criticism of India’s leaders.

This spring

Indian newspapers targeted one of Singh's campaign advisers

, Vancouver advertising specialist Mo Dhaliwal, who created Singh’s “love and courage” slogan. The Indian media accused Dhaliwal and other outside agitators of fanning anti-government rage by creating a “tool-kit” that helped farmers further their protests.

Singh, however, said the “tool-kit” is nothing more than an “innocuous” document that helped protesters ask pointed questions. He charged that Modi’s “heavy-handed” and “oppressive” response led to the arrest and torture of journalists and young activists.

 NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

How racism in Canada compares

Last year Singh was removed from the House of Commons for refusing to apologize for calling a Bloc MP a “racist,” after the opposing politician declined to support an investigation of “systemic racism” in the RCMP.

A longtime anti-racism activist who emphasizes group identity, Singh was asked whether he defined racism according to the Oxford Dictionary — as “discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on the

belief that one's own race is superior


Singh instead emphasized the concept of “systemic racism,” in which he said a person’s “intention doesn’t matter.” What matters, Singh said, is when “outcomes” for people of colour are “disproportional.” He cited higher arrest rates for Indigenous people and Blacks and the fact some First Nations reserves don’t have safe drinking water.

Canadians are generally polite, Singh said, which he suggested helps explain why the Gallup polling company has found

Canadians are the "most accepting" 

in the world toward migrants. Despite such a positive national ranking, Singh said, “visceral” anti-Asian racism is increasing in this country.

Nonetheless, Singh celebrated Statistics Canada data that shows the

children of Chinese and South immigrants have better outcomes

than people of all other ethnicities in regard to obtaining university degrees and high-skilled jobs.

“I would say it’s an example of how immigration is good for Canada,” Singh said. “People from all different countries who come to Canada really want to make the best lives for themselves and their family. They want to contribute. They’re really happy and proud to be Canadian.”





















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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff has offered to testify at a House of Commons committee investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against Canada’s former top military commander.

Katie Telford wrote members of the defence committee Thursday, offering to testify at their meeting Friday.

Opposition parties have been demanding she appear to explain an apparent discrepancy between Trudeau’s assertion that his office did not know a complaint against general Jonathan Vance involved sexual misconduct and other testimony and emails suggesting that it did know.

Telford has been in the hot seat since Elder Marques, a former senior adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office, testified two weeks ago.

Marques said he was informed in 2018 by Telford or her assistant that there had been an allegation of “personal misconduct” against Vance, then chief of the defence staff. He said he assumed it was sexual in nature. 

Marques said he immediately referred the matter to the clerk of the Privy Council, advised Telford that he had done so and then “kept her apprised as matters developed.”

The allegation had first been raised a day earlier with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan by the military ombudsman at the time, Gary Walbourne. Former clerk Michael Wernick has testified that his office attempted to investigate the allegation but that Walbourne was not able to provide any information because the complainant did not want to be named.

The allegation involved an off-colour email that Vance allegedly sent a junior officer in 2012, before he became defence chief.

Military police are now investigating that complaint as well as another allegation that Vance had a sexual relationship with another officer under his command.

Vance has not responded to requests for comment, but Global News, which first reported the allegations, says that he has denied any inappropriate conduct.

Since Marques’ testimony, the Conservatives have been accusing Trudeau of lying about not knowing the allegation was sexual in nature. Alternatively, they say Telford covered it up.

Earlier this week, the Conservatives moved a motion calling for Telford to be fired. That motion was defeated.

Trudeau has maintained that no one in his office knew that the allegation was “a Me Too complaint.”

“We did not have information on what was the nature of the complaint, of that allegation," he said last week.

Telford is expected to say much the same during her testimony Friday.

However, emails released under the Access to Information Act have shown that bureaucrats at the time were referring to the allegation as “sexual harassment.”

Privy Council bureaucrat Janine Sherman has testified that some of those emails were shared with staff in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Walbourne has testified that he told Sajjan what the allegation was about but that Sajjan stopped him when he tried to show him the evidence. 

Sajjan has said he wasn’t told the details and that he didn’t want to know in order to avoid any perception of political interference in the matter. He’s said he referred the issue immediately to the Privy Council Office.

Trudeau maintains he only learned the details when Global first reported them in February.

Shortly after that report, Vance’s replacement as chief of the defence staff, Admiral Art McDonald, stepped aside due to an unspecified allegation of misconduct. He, too, is now under military police investigation.

Vance stepped down as defence chief in January. He officially retired from the military last month.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

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Douglas Harbour on the Isle of Man. A 2019 report estimates that the Canadian government is missing out on as much as $25 billion a year in revenues due to an inability to crack down on overseas tax havens.

OTTAWA — A Parliamentary committee on Thursday launched an investigation into how Canada can better defend against offshore tax evasion, with some MPs pressing for details around a high-profile financial fraud in the mid-2000s that robbed many Canadians of their life savings.

Canada has for years struggled to rein in offshore tax avoidance by corporations and wealthy individuals, a shortcoming that has sapped government revenues and damaged its reputation among allies. A 2019 report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that the Canadian government is missing out on as much as $25 billion a year in revenues due to an inability to crack down on overseas tax havens.

Members of Parliament on the House of Commons finance committee began studying the broad topic of tax evasion on Thursday, including a specific focus on four offshore tax havens established in the early 2000s that are allegedly tied to one of the biggest financial frauds in Canadian history.

The four tax shelters were based in the Isle of Man, a small tax haven in the middle of the Irish Sea. Each were named after ancient swords, and became known as the “sword companies” in connection with their alleged involvement in several financial frauds, including the CINAR fraud of the mid-2000s, which cost a number of Canadian investors an estimated $120 million.

Canadian accounting giant KPMG has become ensnared in the issue, after CBC reports claimed the company might have been involved in setting the structural templates for the Isle of Man sword companies.

KPMG admits that it set up a tax protection scheme for wealthy Canadian clients in the Isle of Man beginning in the late 1990s, according to reports by the CBC. However it has repeatedly denied any involvement with the four specific shell companies, called Sceax, Shashqua, Spatha, and Katar.

A Parliamentary investigation into CINAR and KPMG was suspended in 2016, after the accounting firm claimed that it would interfere with ongoing court cases related to the scandal. The committee study on Thursday effectively marked a relaunch of that investigation.

Lucia Iacovelli, managing partner at KPMG, appeared before the committee on Thursday, and dismissed what she called “irresponsible and misleading” reporting by the CBC, and sought to distance the company from the establishment of the Isle of Man shell companies.

“Any implication that KPMG had anything to do with the CINAR fraud is false,” Iacovelli said. “Any implication that KPMG was in any way involved with the sword companies is also false.”

Several MPs on Thursday called on KPMG to provide the names of the wealthy individuals behind the tax havens allegedly tied to CINAR and other financial frauds, to which the company did not commit to provide the information.

Questions levelled at KMPG came as many witnesses and members of Parliament said the issue pointed to a deeper struggle in Canada in suppressing offshore tax avoidance.

Senator Percy Downe, who appeared as a witness before the committee, criticized what he called a “two-tiered justice system for tax evasion” in Canada, in which poorer households are hounded by the Canada Revenue Agency while wealthy individuals shelter vast sums of cash and assets overseas.

“Try to cheat on your domestic taxes, and the CRA will likely find you charge you convict you enforce your repayment,” he said. “Hide your money overseas, and you’ll likely never be charged or convicted.”

Worsening matters, Downe said, the federal government still has only a limited grasp of just how much tax evasion is occurring under its watch, as little data exists on the issue.

“The Canadian government doesn’t even know the size of the overseas tax evasion problem,” he said.

Janet Watson, a victim of the Mount Real scheme, another financial crime allegedly tied to the sword companies, appeared before the committee on Thursday to explain the deep wounds left by the fraud.

“Believe me, it is not a victimless crime,” she said, while offering examples of people she had met in the aftermath of the crime that had lost their life savings.

James Cohen, executive director at Transparency International Canada, said the issue of tax evasion is not just a problem involving lost government revenues, but also damages Canada’s international reputation. Those concerns are particularly acute in the context of humanitarian aid provided by Canada to other countries, at the same time that foreign actors funnel money into Canadian-owned assets.

“This all has an impact, and it all should matter to everyday Canadians,” Cohen said.

In June 2016, three former CINAR executives, Ronald Weinberg, Lino Matteo, and John Xanthoudakis, were sentenced to prison in connection with the scandal. Canadian authorities have said they will not be able to trace or reclaim the money lost by investors in the fraud.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Federal judges expressed skepticism on Thursday about reinstating North Carolina’s ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, especially after state officials have acknowledged that the prohibition hasn’t been enforced.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, heard remote oral arguments from attorneys for abortion providers who successfully sued years ago to block the ban — which provided some exceptions for medical emergencies — and local prosecutors and state officials who are trying to restore it. The judges did not indicate when they would rule.

Echoing the actions of GOP-led legislatures in numerous states, Republicans at the North Carolina legislature have been passing laws expanding abortion restrictions since taking over the General Assembly a decade ago. On Thursday, lawmakers in the North Carolina House approved a measure banning abortions if a woman's decision centres on the unborn child's race or a Down syndrome diagnosis.

The 20-week ban was first passed in 1973. That was the year the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion as a constitutional right until a fetus develops enough to live outside the womb, generally between 24 and 28 weeks.

While abortion remains legal in all 50 states, 43 have some form of restriction on the procedure after a fetus becomes viable. North Carolina lawmakers who support the ban have argued that viability can be as early as 20 to 22 weeks.

Ruling on the abortion providers’ lawsuit in 2019, U.S. District Judge William Osteen declared the 20-week limit unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Osteen also noted that a 2016 amendment to the state’s abortion laws raised the threat of physicians being prosecuted because it narrowed the scope of medical emergencies under which a woman would be exempt from the 20-week limit.

Previously, the procedure was allowed if there was "substantial risk" to the woman's health. The amendment, approved by the General Assembly, allowed it only in situations where the mother faced a risk of death or serious and irreversible harm from an urgent medical emergency.

State attorneys went to the appeals court to get the ban reinstated. They argue that the physicians lacked legal standing to sue in the first place because they haven’t faced any charges or administrative action.

Their fear of prosecution is not credible, Special Deputy Attorney General Michael Wood told the panel, because the ban has never been enforced by the district attorneys serving Orange, Chatham and Durham counties who were sued. Wood acknowledged, however, that there is nothing to prevent current or future DAs from changing their minds.

"Your entire submission has been, 'We have not and we will not enforce the statute,'" Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz told Wood. "So why are you here defending it?"

Wood responded that it is his agency’s job to defend laws: “This is valid state law on the books since 1973. … It is possible, although it hasn't happened, that this law could be enforced some day in the future — that’s absolutely right."

Wood works for the state Department of Justice, which is led by Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat and abortion-rights supporter. Stein recused himself because of his position.

The physicians’ attorney, Genevieve Scott, who works at the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued before the three-judge panel that Osteen was right in concluding the 2016 amendment raised the risk of prosecution.

Scott said the amendment placed “a chilling effect on constitutional rights."

Referring to the amendment, Judge Albert Diaz asked Wood whether he would agree that "legislatures don't go about modifying or amending statutes if they have no intent on their being enforced." Diaz was nominated to the court by President Barack Obama. Motz was appointed by President Bill Clinton.

Judge Julius Richardson, a Donald Trump nominee, said the fact that North Carolina and other states are passing medical-exception laws "seems to me to suggest that the threat of prosecution is more credible,” although "maybe not credible enough."

Federal courts have previously struck down other abortion laws that North Carolina legislators passed. In 2014, they blocked a 2011 law requiring abortion providers to show and describe an ultrasound to the pregnant woman.

Meanwhile, abortion clinics, physicians and others sued in state court last September, seeking to overturn five other abortion restrictions, including a 72-hour waiting period.

Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press

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OTTAWA — The chief of staff to Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned critic of the Russian president, is calling on Ottawa to impose new sanctions on those who he described as “Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs.” 

Leonid Volkov told members of a parliamentary committee that freezing the assets of Putin’s friends would put pressure on the Russian president. 

“Every time Europe or (the United States) try to build bridges, to compromise, to build a dialogue, unfortunately, Putin, in his psychology, considers it to be just a sign of weakness,” Volkov said.

“The personal sanctions against Putin’s oligarchs are important to win leverage against him to build a strong position.”

Volkov said Putin was personally offended by Navalny’s investigation into a luxurious palace he was building, so he ordered his agents to poison the critic in August 2020. 

“For Putin, really, money, like gold and red carpets, is the most important thing in the world,” Volkov said.

He said Navalny was arrested in the airport on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from the poisoning, and he has been in prison since then. 

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau announced sanctions against nine Russian officials in March to put pressure on senior figures in the government involved in Navalny’s poisoning, his subsequent prosecution, and the silencing of citizens who protested his treatment.

Volkov said it’s important that Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States have recently imposed personal sanctions on Russian officials and didn’t put in place new economic sanctions on the country. 

Sanctions on the Russian economy allow the Kremlin to spread misinformation and blame the country’s economic decline on western sanctions, he said.

“Like, ‘Why has the household income of the average household in Russia decreased for eight years in a row? Because of the evil West, because of NATO, because of the U.S., because they’re trying to kill our economy with sanctions,’ ” he said.

Personal sanctions on leaders and friends of Putin are efficient and don’t allow the government to spread misinformation, he said. 

“Propaganda can’t sell them as being sanctions against Russia.”

However, Volkov said Canada’s list of nine sanctioned Russian officials was “weak” because although it included officials who are responsible for poisoning Navalny, they don’t travel abroad and they don’t have assets abroad.

Volkov said he is ready to provide the parliamentary foreign affairs committee with a list of 35 names of Putin’s close friends who hold his assets. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

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OTTAWA — Liberal MP Anthony Housefather says the federal government will not be taking part in 20th-anniversary events for an international conference where Israel was singled out for condemnation.

In a Twitter post today, the lawmaker says Ottawa confirmed it will avoid the gathering in South Africa known as Durban IV, which he says “continues to be used to push anti-Israel sentiment and as a forum for anti-Semitism.”

The United States and Australia have also stated they will steer clear of events commemorating the 2001 Durban Declaration.

The coming event, slated for Sept. 22 and authorized by the United Nations, will mark 20 years since the World Conference on Racism in Durban.

The initial conference was consumed by clashes over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery, prompting the U.S. and Israel to walk out during a meeting over a draft resolution that censured Israel and likened Zionism to racism.

B’nai Brith Canada chief executive Michael Mostyn says he is “very encouraged” that Ottawa continues to boycott what his group calls a “profoundly flawed” process tinged with anti-Semitism.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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KALISPELL, Mont. — Park officials in Montana have made additional reservation tickets available this week for Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park after receiving complaints that the park was selling out too quickly.

The temporary ticketed entry system for the iconic 50-mile (80-kilometre) alpine road was announced last month to manage congestion and avoid potential closures at the park because of the coronavirus pandemic and road construction.

Park officials have said reservations for June sold out within minutes after they were made available despite visitors having a rolling 60-day window to reserve tickets that are made available each morning. Officials said at one point more than 10,000 people were on the park’s online portal, more than three times the number of available tickets.

Several residents and out-of-state visitors raised complaints about the system and the lack of availability.

"Time to rethink the GTSR ticketing system," Jennifer Thies said on Twitter. "Was on the website this morning and sold out in 3 minutes for June 29th. And now I have to wait to June 27th for another shot?? How can I plan a vacation like this? Definitely not well planned."

As a result, the park said the road is expected to open July 1 to allow more tickets to be released.

"Yes, there are fewer tickets available prior to the Going-to-the-Sun Road opening. And once the road opens, additional tickets will become available," Glacier Park Public Information Officer Gina Kerzman said. "Unfortunately, we never know the date that it will open, but once the road does open, or once we're clear on when it will open, those tickets will become available."

Officials previously said that about 4,600 daily tickets would be available when the road is fully opened, but that number is fluid, and applies to vehicles, not visitors, she said.

"This is our first year implementing this system so we know that there are going to need to be tweaks," Kerzman said. "We are going to be monitoring the number of tickets versus the number of vehicles entering, and we are going to adjust those numbers if we feel there is room for additional capacity."

Visitors with proof of service reservations inside the park — for lodging, camping, boat rides, bus tours, guided hikes, or horseback rides — are exempt from the reservation requirement.

Visitors entering the park on foot or bicycle do not need reservations, nor do those coming through the Many Glacier, Two Medicine, Cut Bank, Chief Mountain Highway and North Fork entrances.

Tribal members and people who own property within the park's boundaries are also exempt from purchasing a ticket.

The Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, Acadia and Zion national parks are also using a ticketed entry or other form of crowd control this summer.

The Associated Press