Russian Phone Pranksters Dupe Trudeau as ‘Greta Thunberg’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become the latest victim of a pair of notorious Russian pranksters who called him while posing as Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

In the phone call published on the Vovan and Lexus comic duo’s YouTube page this week, the fake Greta grills Trudeau about NATO, other world leaders and her fears of a “growing international crisis and anticipation of the third world war.”

When Trudeau praises Thunberg’s 2019 visit to Montreal, saying it “helped define” the results of Canada’s federal election that year, the fake Greta says: “But leave NATO. Drop your weapons. Pick flowers. Smile at nature.”

“I also dream of a world in which soldiers are not necessary, but we don’t live in that world yet, unfortunately,” Trudeau can be heard responding. 

The 10-minute conversation ends after the fake Greta asks if Trudeau can introduce her to Terrance and Phillip, a fictional Canadian comedy duo from “South Park” who speak with an exaggerated accent and sophomoric toilet humor.

“Wait, were they not in South Park?” Trudeau responds after initially promising to connect her with them through his team. “I believe they are South Park parodies of Canadians.” 

Trudeau’s office told Canada’s CTV broadcaster that the call dates back to January, when world leaders reached out to offer condolences over the deaths of Canadian citizens onboard a Ukrainian passenger plane shot down by Iran.

“The Prime Minister determined the call was fake and promptly ended it,” the office was quoted as saying Tuesday.

Vovan and Lexus, the moniker used by Vladimir Kuznetso and Alexei Stolyarov, are known in Russia for targeting Kremlin opponents with prank calls. In recent months, they have targeted foreign political and royal figures like French President Emmanuel Macron, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prince Harry.

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Green Party leader calls on Trudeau to curb COVID-19 confusion and appoint a national task force

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should immediately appoint a panel of expert scientists to help coordinate the national response to COVID-19 as the number of cases continues to rise.

Speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill today, Paul said Canadians are not being well served by the confusing current patchwork of federal, provincial and municipal COVID-19 policies.

She said the country must have clear, coordinated messages, with officials speaking with “one voice.”

WATCH: Green Party Leader Annamie Paul calls for a national approach to the pandemic

Green Party leader Annamie Paul decries the mixed and confusing messages coming from different levels of government in Canada. 1:52

She cited the example of the recent byelection in Toronto-Centre, which Paul lost to Liberal Marci Ien. Paul pointed out that byelection voters were being told by federal Elections Canada officials that it was safe to vote even as municipal leaders were encouraging them to stay close to home.

Canada doesn’t need a “one size fits all” approach, Paul said, but the country should have something like Australia’s National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board. That board, according to its terms of reference, is responsible for “mobilizing a whole‑of-society and whole-of-economy effort, to take action against the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

Paul said the country could be divided into colour-coded zones — as Ontario and Quebec already have done for some regions — with national standards determining what those living in those zones can and cannot do during the pandemic.

The national task force would take the lead on drafting restrictions to ensure some level of uniformity across the country, she said, with the understanding that some regions are performing better than others with respect to case counts.

“The problem right now is we have very mixed and confusing messages at a time when people have said they are willing to do what is necessary to prioritize life. We do not have coordinated, unified messaging on the pandemic,” she said.

And while Canada is a federation, with a division of powers between various jurisdictions and levels of government, Paul said now is not the time for squabbling over who is responsible for what when so many people are getting sick.

“I say very clearly that we must accept that this is not a local health issue, this is not a provincial health issue. This is a national health emergency, it is a national pandemic,” Paul said.

“What’s happening right now doesn’t work — that’s clear. People are dying, we’re in the midst of a second wave and we’re not seeing any improvement.”

Paul said that even the U.S., which has been criticized by some for its pandemic response, is further ahead on coming up with a cohesive, national response.

She said president-elect Joe Biden formed a coronavirus advisory board dominated by scientists and doctors shortly after he secured the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

That task force is chaired by former surgeon general Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler and Yale University’s Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.

Biden has said the task force will take policy proposals and “convert [them] into an action blueprint.”

“That plan will be built on bedrock science … I’ll spare no effort, none, or any commitment, to turn around this pandemic.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada already has established a “health portfolio operations centre” that coordinates the federal response with international, provincial and territorial partners. Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, is also in close contact with provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health to share information and coordinate response efforts.

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Prime Minster Justin Trudeau joins virtual discussion with London health care workers – London

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be paying a virtual visit to London Health Care workers Thursday afternoon.

Trudeau will join local MPs Kate Young and Peter Fragiskatos for a virtual roundtable on COVID-19 with health care workers from the London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care.

Fragiskatos tells Global News that around a dozen health care works from various disciplines on the frontlines of the pandemic will participate in the routable.

He said the purpose of the roundtable is to congratulate health care workers for their contribution and give them feedback on the government’s handling of the pandemic.

In the last seven days, at least 134 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Middlesex-London region.

“We saw what happened in the spring when we had hospitals overwhelmed. We do see a steady increase in the number of hospitalizations, and the more it increases, the more it threatens to overwhelm our health care system once again,” Fragiskatos said.

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“This is a virus that spreads unlike anything we have seen before in our lifetime. … I am quite concerned we could see an increase in hospitalizations.”

Read more:
Coronavirus has made health-care shortfalls ‘obvious’ to Canadians: poll

The roundtable is scheduled to get underway at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The discussion comes amid two outbreaks that were declared at University Hospital just days apart — the first on Tuesday on the fourth floor in General Medicine and the second Wednesday on the ninth floor in Orthopaedics.

The total number of infected patients is unknown, but an internal memo suggests at least three patients have tested positive for the virus in the outbreak on the fourth floor.

The roundtable also comes after an Ipsos poll on behalf of the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) suggests most Canadians think the Canadian Health Care system needs a major boost.

A survey of 1,150 Canadians found that 88 per cent said there need to be more beds, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical staff, hospitals and clinics, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 93 per cent of those aged 55 and above agreed.

Researchers say COVID-19 has exposed long-standing deficiencies in the health care system, and Canadians want to see the government make significant improvements.

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— With files from Natalie Lovie and Saba Aziz Global News

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Trudeau says Canada will not bow to China’s ‘coercive diplomacy’

China’s President Xi Jinping (L) and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend the session on women’s workforce participation, future of work, and ageing societies, at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool via REUTERS

November 11, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that his country would not cave in to pressure from China over the case of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou who was arrested in Canada on a U.S. warrant almost two years ago.

The case has caused a diplomatic chill between Canada and China, which soon after Meng’s arrest detained two Canadian citizens, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, on espionage charges.

“We don’t believe in coercive diplomacy and … we actually deeply believe that if you start giving into that kind of pressure, you’ll leave yourself worse off for the long term,” Trudeau said in an interview during an FT online conference.

“China continues to think that they can just put enough pressure on us and we will … give in, but that’s exactly the opposite of our position,” he said.

Meng has denied charges brought against her in the United States and is fighting extradition from house arrest in Vancouver.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)

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Trudeau calls on premiers and mayors to ‘do the right thing’ as COVID caseloads rise

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly called on the country’s premiers and mayors today to “do the right thing” and impose restrictions to counter the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

“We’re seeing record spikes this morning across the country. So I’m imploring the premiers and our mayors to please do the right thing — act now to protect public health,” Trudeau said during his regular morning briefing with public health officials.

“If you think something is missing in the support we’re offering for your citizens — tell us.”

Trudeau’s sobering statement comes as health officials are reporting what the prime minister called a “concerning spike” in caseloads across the country.

The province of Ontario, which recently eased its strict restrictions on businesses and public activity in some regions, this morning reported 1,388 new cases of COVID-19 — a new daily high — and 15 additional deaths. Health Minister Christine Elliott said that number includes 520 new cases in Toronto and 395 in Peel Region.

On Monday, a group of physicians in Alberta sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney, his health minister and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, calling for swift moves to slow the spread of the virus.

“If the rate of COVID-19 spread continues, the consequences to the people of Alberta will be catastrophic,” the letter said. 

“The province should consider a two-week, short, sharp lockdown or ‘circuit breaker’ to drop the effective reproductive number and allow contact tracing to catch up.”

Trudeau said imposing targeted shutdowns and restrictions now could help prevent further problems down the line, and pointed out that the federal government has given billions of dollars in direct support to businesses affected by shutdown orders.

“With rising cases of COVID-19 here at home, there’s an added pressure on all orders of government to keep people safe and to protect jobs,” he said.

“But I would hope that no leader in our country is easing public health vigilance because they feel pressure not to shut down businesses or slow down our economy. I understand that worry, but let me tell you — that’s how we end up with businesses going out of business, and the economy damaged even more. Beating COVID is the only way to protect our economy.”

Manitoba goes to ‘code red’

As Trudeau was speaking in Ottawa, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister took the step of moving the entire province into the red (or critical) level of the provincial pandemic response plan.

That move comes one day after his chief provincial public health officer announced 365 new cases, three deaths, a record provincial test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent and record numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospital and in intensive care.

B.C. Premier John Horgan is urging his residents to “get with the program” and cut back on social interactions, warning that a return to tighter restrictions is possible if the province’s COVID-19 case numbers don’t come down.

“This is going to be challenging,” Horgan said Monday.

“No one should be under any illusion based on what’s happening in British Columbia, in Canada, in North America — around the world — that we’re going to be out of this anytime soon.” 

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Justin Trudeau looks to Joe Biden for help in dispute with China

Toronto: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he spoke with President-elect Joe Biden about China’s imprisonment of two Canadians in retaliation for the arrest of a top Huawei executive and he expects Biden to be a good partner in convincing Beijing to release them.

Beijing arrested former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor in December 2018 just days after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese Huawei executive and the daughter of the company’s founder.

The US is seeking Meng’s extradition on fraud charges and her extradition case is before the Canadian courts. Her arrest severely damaged relations between China and Canada. China has also sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended canola imports.

Justin Trudeau has been among the first to congratulate Joe Biden.Credit:Bloomberg

Trudeau tweeted that be spoke to Biden and congratulated the president-elect on his victory. He wrote that they talked about number of issues including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the detained Canadians.

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Trudeau says promising new Pfizer vaccine could be ‘light at the end of the tunnel’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that Pfizer’s promising COVID-19 vaccine trial is an “encouraging” development — and could be the first step toward restoring Canada’s social and economic life.

If all goes well, he said, the Pfizer vaccine should be available to Canadians sometime over the first three months of 2021.

“We see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Trudeau told a COVID-19 briefing with reporters today. “We are hopeful we are getting there because our scientists are working incredibly hard.”

U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said today an early analysis of its novel coronarvirus vaccine trial suggested the drug was more than 90 per cent effective in preventing the disease among trial participants who had no evidence of prior coronavirus infection.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the trial results “extraordinary” and said Pfizer’s success bodes well for a similar vaccine being developed by U.S. firm Moderna.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer.

Canada already has placed orders with Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for 20 million doses of the two-dose vaccine so that it can be deployed here as soon as the company gets the necessary regulatory approvals from Health Canada.

Pfizer has been submitting trial data to the regulator on a rolling basis since October 9. The rolling review allows drug makers to bypass the lengthy timelines they normally face when launching a new product. The vaccine will be approved for use once Health Canada is sure of its safety, efficacy and quality. 

Trudeau said that while Pfizer’s results are promising, Canadians must continue to adhere to public health guidelines to keep caseloads manageable.

“It’s really important we double down on our efforts,” he said. “We need to make sure we are controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the coming months so that when vaccines get here, we will be able to act quickly to protect all Canadians.”

Pfizer said it would continue to monitor for trial-related concerns in the weeks ahead and it expects to have its final safety data by the third week of November.

The drug maker said it is now readying an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization to deploy the vaccine for use on some people in the U.S. by year’s end.

Based on current projections, Pfizer has said it expects to produce more than 50 million doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

WATCH: Vaccine news could be ‘major win,’ infectious disease expert says

Pfizer says early data indicates its COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective, but cautions that its study is still going.  If the results hold, infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says that would be a significant development in the fight against the coronavirus.   1:22

“We’ve secured already millions of doses of that vaccine candidate and when it is safe to distribute we will certainly be beginning distribution in Canada to high priority groups,” Trudeau said.

This particular vaccine must be stored at -75 C — which could make the logistics of distribution “more complex,” Trudeau said. Other vaccines are in the development pipeline that do not require such stringent storage requirements, he added.

The Pfizer vaccine is just one candidate that Canada is pursuing. In October, the government signed a contract to procure 76 million doses from the Quebec City-biotech company Medicago.

Medicago is developing the vaccine in partnership with the British drug company GlaxoSmithKline. The two companies have said its pre-clinical results show the vaccine demonstrated a “high level of neutralizing antibodies following a single dose.”

All told, the federal government has secured 358 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from seven different companies — an insurance policy if some of the vaccines in development prove to be ineffective in clinical trials.

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Trudeau ‘really looking forward’ to working with Biden, Harris

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is “really looking forward” to working with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and his running mate California Senator Kamala Harris, congratulating the pair on their historic election victory that was declared Saturday morning.

“Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both,” the prime minister posted on social media, just minutes after the election was called in favour of the Democrats. 

Biden and Harris—soon to be America’s first Black, South Asian and female vice-president—clinched their victory in critical battleground states, turning Trump and Vice President Mike Pence into one-term leaders.

Trump has not conceded, with his campaign stating on Friday that “this election is not over.” Instead, the Republicans have waged a series of legal challenges to the vote, which Trump is claiming baselessly and without evidence has been fraudulent and improperly managed in some key states.

Over the last four days as the outstanding surge in advance and mail-in votes were counted, Canadian political figures held their tongues for the most part about the nail-biter of a race unfolding to our south until Friday, when Trudeau said that he has faith in the American electoral process to unfold fairly and accurately and would wait to congratulate a winner until the outcome was “sufficiently clear,” emphasizing the importance of not wading into a foreign country’s election. 

More to come. 

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Trudeau and Macron speak after cartoon remark controversy

image copyrightAFP via Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken with his French counterpart amid controversy over recent comments he made about free expression.

Mr Trudeau expressed Canada’s solidarity with “the people of France” following the recent terror attacks.

A teacher was beheaded in a Paris suburb after showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to some of his pupils.

Mr Trudeau’s remarks last week about freedom of expression were criticised in both Canada and France.

French President Emmanuelle Macron’s defence of the publication of the cartoons sparked protests in some Muslim-majority countries.

There have been calls in some countries for a boycott of French goods.

What did Trudeau say last week?

Mr Trudeau condemned the recent attacks in France, including a deadly knife attack on a church in Nice, the third suspected Islamist attack in the country in little more than a month.

But in a response to question about the right to show a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, he said “freedom of expression is not without limits”.

“We owe it to ourselves to act with respect for others and to seek not to arbitrarily or unnecessarily injure those with whom we are sharing a society and a planet.”

He added: “We do not have the right for example to shout fire in a movie theatre crowded with people, there are always limits.”

What was Macron’s reaction?

On Tuesday, Mr Macron spoke by phone with the premier of the Canadian province of Quebec, Francois Legault, to thank him for his words of support in the wake of the attacks.

Mr Legault said he had “condemned without reservation” what had taken place in France.

But Mr Macron did not place a call to Mr Trudeau that day – seen as a snub by the French leader, especially as both men are viewed as like-minded political allies.

Mr Trudeau has since clarified his earlier remarks, saying “it is important to continue defending freedom of expression, freedom of speech”.

He added: “Our artists help us reflect and challenge our views and they contribute to our society, and we will always continue to defend freedom of expression.”

What about the call today?

Mr Trudeau and Mr Macron spoke by phone on Thursday, suggesting the two leaders were mending fences over the remarks.

According to a readout from the prime minister’s office, Mr Trudeau “expressed Canada’s solidarity with the people of France following recent terrorist attacks and violence” and the two “agreed on the importance of defending freedom of expression and human rights and on their shared commitment to fighting terrorism and violent extremism”.

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Trudeau defends freedom of speech after outcry over comments on Paris attack

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was pressed Tuesday to clarify comments he made last week about the limits of free speech after a teacher in France was beheaded by a terrorist for showing cartoon caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a class discussion.

“I think it is important to continue defending freedom of expression, freedom of speech. Artists help us reflect and challenge our views and they contribute to our society and we will always continue to defend freedom of expression,” Trudeau said in French today.

Trudeau was criticized last week by opposition MPs for not immediately condemning the Oct. 16 killing of 47-year-old teacher Samuel Paty in a Paris suburb. On Friday, he was pressed by reporters to declare his support for free speech in the wake of the attack. Trudeau condemned the attack — but his comments on free speech did not pacify his critics.

“Freedom of expression is not unlimited. For example, it’s not allowed to cry ‘fire’ in a packed cinema,” Trudeau said in French during his Friday press conference in Ottawa. “In a respectful society such as ours, everyone must be aware of the impact of our words and actions on others.

“There are communities experiencing huge discrimination in Canada today. So yes, we will always defend freedom of expression, but everyone must act respectfully toward others and not try to needlessly or arbitrarily hurt someone we share this planet and society with.”

Paty used the caricatures as a teaching tool during a classroom discussion of free speech. That appears to have incited the attack against him by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee previously unknown to French intelligence services.

The initial publication of those cartoons in 2015 by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo inspired a terrorist attack that killed 12 of the magazine’s staff.

Charlie Hebdo republished some of those images in early September of this year, a day before the 14 people charged with planning and aiding the attack went on trial in France.

Macron thanks Legault

Quebec Premier François Legault said President Emmanuel Macron called him this morning to thank him for taking a strong stand on the importance of free speech, and for disagreeing with Trudeau’s Friday comments.

Macron has defended the right to display caricatures of Muhammad in the wake of the attack.

“It is certain that there are some political leaders who fear terrorism and who, faced with the blackmail of certain radical religious groups, are ready to make concessions which are not reasonable,” said Legault.

“The Quebec nation has values,” he added, citing “freedom of expression,” “secularism” and the “French language.” 

“It is not true that in the name of multiculturalism, we are going to put that aside and that we are going to make exaggerated compromises,” he added.

Trudeau won’t condemn use of cartoons

Asked today whether Macron also called Trudeau, the prime minister said he would be speaking with Macron “soon” and suggested that Macron may have called Legault to offer condolences after the sword attack in Quebec City on Halloween night. 

“I expressed my condolences to France and I imagine I will be speaking with the French president shortly,” Trudeau said. “I think that after such an attack like we saw in Quebec, there would be condolences shared. I have worked with Mr. Macron on important issues for everyone and I will continue to work with him as an ally.”

Trudeau also repeated his condemnation of the attack against Paty and of a separate terrorist attack that saw one woman beheaded and two others killed in Nice, France.

“Acts of terrorism and acts of hate that we have seen in France are unacceptable, unjustifiable. There is no reason for such violence. That is what I have said and that is what I will continue to say,” he said today.

After Macron’s call to Legault became public today, Trudeau was asked if his Friday comments on the limitations on free speech extended to a condemnation of the publication of the caricatures of Muhammad.

“No,” he said. “Our journalists, our artists have an important challenge function in our society and we need to leave them free to do their work.”

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