Connect with us

Anglais

Canada reduces diplomatic presence in Cuba after yet another case of mystery illness

Published

on

[ad_1]

OTTAWA—Canada is reducing its diplomatic operations in Cuba after yet another diplomat has fallen ill, troubling confirmation that whatever the cause of the unexplained health symptoms, it’s still ongoing.

Just how Global Affairs will adjust its diplomatic presence in Havana over the coming weeks is not yet decided, but the department is looking at cutting its staff in the country by half, to eight from 16. This latest case brings to 14 the number of confirmed cases — nine adults and five children.

Only essential consular functions will now be performed by personnel at the embassy in Havana, a senior government official confirmed Wednesday, to serve the more than one million Canadians who visit Cuba each year.

Responsibility for other embassy programs could be shuffled to other embassies in the region or to staff in Ottawa.

The latest case involves a diplomat who only arrived in Havana last summer, suggesting that the cause of the health symptoms — which first started hitting Canadians in 2017 — has not gone away.

That individual reported health concerns on Dec. 29 and was sent for immediate medical testing, which confirmed symptoms similar to those experienced by the others: dizziness, headaches, hearing and visual problems and fatigue.

A joint investigation by the RCMP and Cuban national police has yet to turn up a cause or potential culprit, prompting the department to reduce staff in the embassy as a precaution, a government official said Wednesday.

“A further reduction in the footprint is deemed to be the appropriate response given that these recent confirmed cases demonstrate that these incidents are still ongoing,” an official said Wednesday, one of two who briefed reporters on condition they not be identified.

“We have not been able to determine any cause … neither are we able to determine what the mechanism or agency was behind that cause. We have no evidence that would indicate that it is linked to any particular government or situation,” the official said.

It’s the latest development in an international mystery that has seen Canadian and U.S. diplomats in Havana hit with concussion-like symptoms, and which has left governments scrambling to find answers in what’s being called “unprecedented and very difficult incidents.”

Diplomats express concern over treatment for effects of mystery illness encountered in Cuba

Ottawa reviews embassy operation in Cuba after another diplomat falls ill

In April 2018, Global Affairs deemed the Havana post as “unaccompanied,” meaning the family members were not allowed to join diplomats in the country.

Confirmation of a new case in November prompted a visit by high-level Canadian delegation to assess the situation in Havana and meet with Cuban officials. Additional security and operational measures were put in place, which officials declined to discuss Wednesday.

The federal government has faced criticism from some diplomats, who say that officials have not taken the health threat seriously and have left personnel in harm’s way. Indeed, Canada’s decision to reduce its embassy to essential personnel comes 16 months after Washington made the same decision about its embassy in Havana.

But in the briefing Wednesday, one official defended Ottawa’s approach, saying it was based on “what we’re able to gather about the situation on the ground.”

Until the case in November, there had not been a reported case since October 2017, “quite a considerable period of time,” the official said.

“We have of course been enhancing our security measures continually as the situation unfolded in line with the information we are able to glean from each incident,” the official said.

Only Canadian and American diplomats have been affected, and the official said that collaboration with the U.S. on the investigation has been key. “We are in very close collaboration across all of the different aspects of this file with the United States,” the official said.

And they repeatedly praised Cuba’s co-operation with the investigation.

“Cuban officials are as frustrated as we are that we’re not able to get any closer to determining a cause. We’re very satisfied with their level of co-operation with the RCMP,” said the second official who participated in the briefing.

That tone is different than what has been expressed by the Americans, who have branded the incidents as an “attack” and reminded the Cuban government of its obligations “to take all appropriate steps” to protect diplomats.

In Canada, the RCMP continues to lead a government-wide probe into the cause of the health symptoms, which officials conceded Wednesday still remains unknown. Environmental tests at the homes of diplomats have ruled out air or water as possible causes.

Other possibilities have ranged from microwaves and acoustic attacks to mass hysteria, a theory downplayed by a Ottawa doctor who has assessed some of the Canadians affected. Dr. Shawn Marshall said that the diplomats with health problems have symptoms consistent with a brain injury.

As well, some diplomats have associated strange noises — such as warping metal or grinding noises — with the onset of symptoms, causing it to be labelled as a “sonic attack” in the early days. But in at least one case, the suspicious noise was found to be a loud cricket.

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Anglais

‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

Published

on

By

MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

Continue Reading

Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

Published

on

By

Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

Continue Reading

Anglais

Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

Published

on

By

Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

Continue Reading

Chat

Anglais2 semaines ago

‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

Anglais2 semaines ago

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

Anglais2 semaines ago

Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

Anglais2 semaines ago

Learjet, the private plane synonymous with the jet-set, nears end of runway

Anglais2 semaines ago

Brivia Group announces the construction of Phase 2 of LB9 rental condo project

Anglais2 semaines ago

With popcorn sales banned, some movie theatre owners say it’s not worth it to reopen

Actualités2 semaines ago

À partir de 2025, toutes les voitures de Jaguar seront 100 % électriques

Actualités2 semaines ago

Forte augmentation des demandes de remboursement de voyage

Actualités2 semaines ago

Le textile reste un fléau pour l’environnement malgré de nombreuses initiatives écologiques

Actualités2 semaines ago

L’Agence de mobilité durable et Jalon s’unissent

Actualités2 semaines ago

Un village à reconstruire au coeur de Pointe-aux-Trembles

Actualités2 semaines ago

Le centre-ville de Montréal continue de se vider

Actualités2 semaines ago

Recommandations de la Commission sur les locaux vacants La vitalité du secteur commercial au cœur des priorités de la Ville

Actualités2 semaines ago

Un cabinet d’avocats ne peut pas déduire les frais d’un mariage, dit la Cour

Actualités2 semaines ago

Financement pour deux entreprises de Dorval et Lachine

Actualités2 semaines ago

Les friperies observent une augmentation en popularité

Actualités1 mois ago

Logo du CF Montréal : quatre experts se prononcent

Actualités1 mois ago

De nouveaux logements sociaux pour les femmes autochtones à Montréal

Actualités1 mois ago

Invasion montréalaise !

Actualités1 mois ago

L’hôtel de ville de Sept-Îles pourrait être détruit

Anglais2 années ago

Body found after downtown Lethbridge apartment building fire, police investigating – Lethbridge

Styles De Vie2 années ago

Salon du chocolat 2018: les 5 temps forts

Anglais2 années ago

This B.C. woman’s recipe is one of the most popular of all time — and the story behind it is bananas

Anglais2 années ago

27 CP Rail cars derail near Lake Louise, Alta.

Anglais2 années ago

Man facing eviction from family home on Toronto Islands gets reprieve — for now

Santé Et Nutrition2 années ago

Gluten-Free Muffins

Santé Et Nutrition2 années ago

We Try Kin Euphorics and How to REALLY Get the Glow | Healthyish

Anglais2 années ago

Ontario’s Tories hope Ryan Gosling video will keep supporters from breaking up with the party

Anglais2 années ago

A photo taken on Toronto’s Corso Italia 49 years ago became a family legend. No one saw it — until now

Anglais2 années ago

Condo developer Thomas Liu — who collected millions but hasn’t built anything — loses court fight with Town of Ajax

Styles De Vie2 années ago

Renaud Capuçon, rédacteur en chef du Figaroscope

Anglais2 années ago

This couple shares a 335-square-foot micro condo on Queen St. — and loves it

Mode2 années ago

Paris : chez Cécile Roederer co-fondatrice de Smallable

Anglais2 années ago

Ontario Tories argue Trudeau’s carbon plan is ‘unconstitutional’

Styles De Vie2 années ago

Ford Ranger Raptor, le pick-up roule des mécaniques

Affaires2 années ago

Le Forex devient de plus en plus accessible aux débutants

Anglais2 années ago

100 years later, Montreal’s Black Watch regiment returns to Wallers, France

Technologie2 années ago

YouTube recommande de la pornographie juvénile, allègue un internaute

Anglais2 années ago

Trudeau government would reject Jason Kenney, taxpayers group in carbon tax court fight

Anglais2 années ago

Province’s push for private funding, additional stops puts Scarborough subway at risk of delays

Trending