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World News

Canada extends COVID-19 international border closures, mandatory quarantine order

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada is extending a global travel ban and mandatory quarantine measures that require most travelers to Canada, including citizens returning home, to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, the Canadian government said on Tuesday.

The mandatory quarantine order is now in effect until at least Aug. 31, while the travel ban for most other foreign travelers is extended to at least July 31, according to federal documents. The measures, designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, were set to expire on June 30.

Travel by U.S. citizens are covered under a separate agreement, which was extended earlier this month to keep the U.S.-Canada border closed to all non-essential travel until at least July 21. U.S. citizens who are not deemed essential are still subject to the quarantine.

Failure to comply with the quarantine order can result in a maximum fine of up to C$750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.

Canada shut its borders to non-essential foreign travelers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or Americans in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus and it is unclear when they will be reopened.

Canada has also made limited exemptions to its border measures to allow for immediate family reunification. Exemptions are also in place for some individuals including diplomats, flight crews and those holding valid work or study permits.

As of June 29, Canada had 103,918 cases of COVID-19 of which 67,178 cases had recovered, and had reported 8,566 deaths.

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World News

Canada failing citizens stuck in Syria: report

A human rights group has criticised Canada for failing to repatriate dozens of citizens with alleged ties to the Islamic State (IS) back from Syria.

Human Rights Watch, an international organisation, says 47 Canadians – including 26 children – have been detained for over a year.

Included in the list is Jack Letts, an Anglo-Canadian man who lost UK citizenship in 2019.

Nicknamed “Jihadi Jack” by the UK press, he joined IS in 2014, aged 18.

The dual UK-Canadian national was jailed after being captured by Kurdish YPG forces while trying to flee to Turkey in May 2017.

The Canadian government said the UK had “off-loaded” its responsibilities.

The report, published by Human Rights Watch, accused Canada of abandoning its international obligations and failing to provide consular assistance because of the Canadians’ alleged ties to IS.

“If Canada can bring home tens of thousands of citizens from around the world in a matter of weeks, surely it can find a way to repatriate fewer than 50 others trapped in horrific conditions in northeast Syria,” said Letta Tayler, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The lives of Canadians are on the line, and the time to bring them home is now.”

During his daily press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the government, and said it is difficult to offer diplomatic assistance because of safety concerns in the region. Canada does not have a diplomatic presence in Syria.

“We have a responsibility as a government to ensure that Canadian citizens, particularly employees, are not put into danger, are not exposed to grave situations,” Mr Trudeau said.

“Syria is an area where we do not have any diplomats or any Canadians on the ground and therefore we work through intermediaries to try and provide consular assistance as best we can.”

Human Rights Watch is not the first international organisation to criticise Canada’s response.

In May, a panel of UN human rights experts urged the country to bring home 5-year-old Amira, who was being held in the al-Hol refugee camp, which houses thousands of family members of IS.

The girl was orphaned when her Canadian parents and brother died in a battle, the UN panel says.

Her uncle, who lives in Canada, has been trying to bring her to live with him, and has visited her in the camp, according to CTV News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is trying to bring her to Canada, but has to go through the “proper processes”.

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World News

Canada officer guilty after ‘street justice’ blinding

An off-duty Toronto police officer has been convicted of assault after blinding a black man in an attack with a metal pipe four years ago.

Dafonte Miller, 19, was chased and attacked by officer Michael Theriault and his brother Christian.

The brawl ended with Mr Miller badly injured and in handcuffs.

The victim, whose injuries were so severe his left eye had to be removed, said the officer should have been convicted of a more serious charge.

On Friday, Michael Theriault was convicted of assault, a lesser offence than his initial charge of aggravated assault. His brother Christian was found not guilty of aggravated assault.

Both brothers were also found not guilty of attempting to obstruct justice.

Cries of “Shame!” could be heard outside the courthouse, where the verdict was delivered on a loudspeaker to a crowd of Mr Miller’s supporters.

“While I am disappointed that both Michael and Christian Theriault were not convicted of all charges, I am grateful that Justice Di Luca found Michael Theriault guilty of assaulting me,” Mr Miller said in a press conference after the verdict.

He and his lawyer Julian Falconer are calling on a wider inquiry into police accountability, and why it took local authorities to report the incident to the police watchdog the Special Investigations Unit, which is supposed to investigate incidents where civilians are injured by police – on duty or off.

The four-hour ruling was broadcast on YouTube, where it had more than 20,000 views.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca said he was aware of the case’s high profile, but could not let that influence his verdict.

“I want to make one thing very clear: I am not saying that race has nothing to do with this case. Indeed, I am mindful of the need to carefully consider the racialised context from which this case arises,” he said.

What happened to Dafonte Miller?

Michael Theriault, who was then 24, saw Mr Miller and friends getting into his lorry parked outside his parents’ home in Oshawa, Ontario, on 28 December 2016.

The court heard how Michael ran out in late December in just his socks, chasing Mr Miller in one direction while his 21-year-old brother Christian chased another young man in another direction.

Mr Miller has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, although Justice Di Luca found his innocence “not credible”.

All charges related to the alleged car-hopping – involving petty thefts from unlocked vehicles – have been dropped.

Michael Theriault says he chased Mr Miller because he wanted to apprehend and arrest him, but by his own admission, at no point during the chase did he identify himself as a police officer, or tell Mr Miller he was under arrest.

Justice Di Luca said during his ruling: “To be blunt, I would have expected the first thing out of Michael Theriault’s mouth as he was chasing Mr Miller while wearing only socks would have been: ‘Stop, you are under arrest. I’m a police officer.'”

What is more likely, Justice Di Luca said, was that the Theriaults wanted to administer “street justice” and had little intention of conducting an arrest.

On a 911 call made by Christian Theriault after beating Mr Miller, the younger brother can be heard saying: “You picked the wrong cars.”

After catching up with Mr Miller, the two struggled, with Christian eventually joining the fray. That is when the brawl turned into a “one-sided” fight, the judge found.

Mr Miller says Michael and Christian punched, kicked and hit him with an object that was likely a 4ft (1.3m) metal pipe found at the scene.

An expert pathologist says it was likely a punch, and not the pipe, that blinded him.

Bleeding, Mr Miller rang a neighbour’s doorbell and asked them to call 911. That is when Michael Theriault hit Mr Miller in the face with a pipe, the court heard.

When police arrived, Mr Miller was restrained on the ground, with Michael Theriault’s knee on his back. Officers gave Michael Theriault a set of handcuffs to restrain Mr Miller.

What’s the distinction between assault and aggravated assault?

In Canadian law, aggravated assault is an assault that “wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant”.

Justice Di Luca said that because it was not clear who had the pipe during the brawl where Mr Miller was blinded, he cannot say without a reasonable doubt that the two brothers did not act in self-defence.

Mr Miller denies ever striking anyone with the pipe. DNA evidence shows only his blood on the pipe. Michael had no significant injuries, and Christian suffered a mild concussion.

“By that stage, they were probably just beating on Mr Miller. Probability, however, is not the test for a criminal case,” the judge said.

The judge found this “razor-thin” justification for self-defence evaporated when Michael Theriault hit Mr Miller after he asked the neighbour to call 911.

As to why he acquitted the brothers – who failed to mention the pipe to police – of obstruction of justice, Justice Di Luca said that while he was “troubled” by their omissions, the trauma of the situation could have affected their memory.

He also said that when giving additional testimony to police two weeks after the incident, police failed to directly ask Christian Theriault if he or his brother ever hit Mr Miller with the pipe.

At that point, police were still investigating Mr Miller as the suspect.

What happens next?

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said his “heart goes out” to Mr Miller and his family.

In 2017, he asked Waterloo police to investigate the circumstances surrounding the assault, and why neither Oshawa nor Toronto police reported Mr Miller’s injuries to the SIU immediately.

That investigation was paused during the criminal proceedings, but can resume, he says.

Michael Theriault, who is currently suspended with pay, will also face a professional disciplinary board.

The Toronto Police Association, the union representing police officers, declined to comment as Michael Theriault has yet to be sentenced.

He will be back in court on 15 July, to determine future plans for his sentencing hearing. He remains on bail.

this verdict shows how difficult it is for Black people to get fair decisions through the courts. they can't provide justice for us. the abolition of police AND our court systems will allow us to build systems of true accountability

I know this hurts–let's hold each other today

End of Twitter post by @DesmondCole

The verdict has fuelled calls to defund the police. Toronto city council is currently debating a 10% budget cut to police. The move is not supported by the city’s mayor, John Tory, who is proposing a number of reforms.

As for Mr Miller, who wears a prosthetic eye and still suffers chronic pain because of his injuries, the verdict may be disappointing, but it is not the end.

“I don’t feel like I took a loss. I feel like there’s a long way to go and we just took a step forward,” he said.

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Economy

REFILE-CANADA FX DEBT-Canadian dollar holds near a 10-day low as coronavirus cases climb

 (Adds missing word in headline)
    * Canadian dollar rises 0.1% against the greenback
    * Price of U.S. oil dips 0.3%
    * Canadian payroll employment falls by 1.8 million in April 
    * Canadian bond yields fall across a flatter curve

    TORONTO, June 25 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar edged
higher against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday but held near an
earlier 10-day low as investors worried that a rise in American
coronavirus cases could slow economic recovery.
    World stocks spluttered to their lowest level in over a week
as a surge in U.S. coronavirus cases and an IMF warning of a
nearly 5% plunge in the global economy this year hit the bulls
again.             
    Canada is a major exporter of commodities, including oil, so
the loonie tends to be sensitive to the global economic outlook.
    Oil was pressured by record-high U.S. crude inventories as
well as the resurgence in coronavirus cases that casts doubt on
a recovery in fuel demand. U.S. crude oil futures        were
down 0.3% at $37.88 a barrel, extending the previous day's sharp
decline.             
    The Canadian dollar        was trading 0.1% higher at 1.3620
to the greenback, or 73.42 U.S. cents. The currency touched its
weakest intraday level since June 15 at 1.3666.
    The 10-day low for the loonie follows news on Wednesday that
Canada lost one of its coveted triple-A ratings when Fitch
downgraded it for the first time. Also this week, investors have
worried that Washington could reimpose tariffs on Canadian
aluminum.                         
    Canadian payroll employment fell by 1.8 million in April as
non-essential businesses were closed across the country, data
from Statistics Canada showed on Thursday. That brought total
job losses since February to 2.8 million, or 16%, which is
consistent with data from the labor force survey, the national
statistical agency said.
    The labor force survey has since showed that Canada
unexpectedly added almost 290,000 jobs in May as some provinces
loosened COVID-19 restrictions on businesses.             
    Canadian government bond yields were lower across a flatter
curve, with the 10-year             down 3.6 basis points at
0.512%.

 (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
  

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