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Dozens of Canadians dead in Iranian jet disaster; 30 Edmonton residents killed

Iranian authorities say 63 Canadians are dead after a Ukrainian airlines 737 blew up shortly after takeoff in Tehran.

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Iranian authorities say 63 Canadians are dead after a Ukrainian airlines 737 blew up shortly after takeoff in Tehran.

The jet, Flight PS752 to Kiev, crashed into a farmer’s field Wednesday morning killing all 176 people on board, including the Canadians.

A sombre Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a Wednesday afternoon press conference that 138 people on the plane were headed to Canada, including the 63 citizens.

Postmedia reported that 30 of the dead came from Edmonton alone.

You can read a list of the dead here.

Reza Akbari, the president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, told Postmedia that students, university professors, doctors and newlyweds are among those believed to be dead.

Iran‘s official ISNA news agency said two of the victims were Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand.

Pedram Mousavi
Courtesy University of Alberta

Both Mousavi and Daneshmand are professors at the University of Alberta, according to the university’s website.

Mojan Daneshmand
Courtesy University of Alberta

Other dead Canadians carried student identification cards.

Arshia Arbabbahrami, a Grade 12 student at Calgary’s Western Canada high school, was among the dead.

It is the largest single loss of Canadian life since an Air India aircraft was blown up off the coast of Ireland that killed 268 Canadians in 1985.

In addition to the Canadians, the aircraft carried 82 Iranians and 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Brits.

In a statement earlier, Trudeau said he was “shocked and saddened” by the crash.

“Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that this crash is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians’ questions are answered,” said Trudeau.

“Today, I assure all Canadians that their safety and security is our top priority. We also join with the other countries who are mourning the loss of citizens.”

The flag on Parliament’s Peace Tower was lowered to half-mast to honour victims of the crash. As were flags at the Alberta legislature and Calgary’s McDougall Centre.

The 63 dead were from the entirety of the country, from Halifax to Vancouver.

Alberta premier Jason Kenney issued a statement saying: “I am deeply saddened by the devastating news that 63 Canadians, including a large number of Albertans, were amongst the 176 passengers aboard Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 when it crashed earlier today near Tehran.

“On behalf of the Government of Alberta, I extend my deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the passengers.

“Alberta has been enriched by a small but dynamic and highly educated Iranian community. This is a terrible day for them, and I am sure that all Albertans join with me in expressing our condolences to the entire community, which is affected by this disaster.

“I thank the Government of Canada for pressing for an investigation into this crash, and offering support to the victims’ families.”


Canadian transport minister Marc Garneau tweeted: “My thoughts are with all those affected by the heartbreaking tragedy involving Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 carrying many Canadians. We are in touch with our international counterparts and Canada is offering technical assistance to the upcoming investigation.”

The 2016 census showed 210,000 of Canada’s 38 million people are of Iranian descent.

Journalists from the AP, who reached the crash site said farmland was covered with debris. Dead bodies lay among pieces of the aircraft, their possessions, including a child’s electric toothbrush, a stuffed animal, luggage and electronics, strewn across the site.

Investigators have recovered the aircrafts black boxes. They claimed early reports suggest an engine fire brought the plane down.

Ukrainian Airlines 737
Courtesy Wikipedia

The crash came after Iran launched a dozen ballistic missiles Tuesday night attacking two U.S. bases in Iraq.

The U.S. military confirmed the missiles were launched at two bases – including Al Asad airbase – and troops were hunkered down. They said it would take several hours for damage to be assessed.

Early reports said no U.S. soldiers were wounded in the attacks.

Canadian officials also confirmed there were no casualties in their contingent.

Earlier, U.S President Donald Trump tweeted “All is well” about 7:45 (MST).

“Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning,” Trump tweeted.

The Iranian attacks come after the U.S. killed Qassem Soleimani, the Iraqi general who was the second in command of the country.

NBC reported Iran is warning if there is retaliation for the two waves of attacks they launched Tuesday night, their 3rd wave will destroy Dubai and Haifa, in Israel.

Fox News is reporting Canadian troops were housed at one of the attacked sites, but were in the process of being moved to Kuwait.

Later, the chief of defence Gen. Johnathan Vance tweeted: “CAF families: I can assure you that all deployed CAF personnel are safe & accounted for following missile attacks in Iraq. We remain vigilant.”

Iranian FM Zarif tweeted Iran “took and concluded” proportionate measures in self-defense: “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Quds Force, the unit Soleimani commanded, is within the IRGC.

Earlier in the day, at least 56 people were killed and hundreds injured during a stampede as mourners gathered to bury Soleimani.

The tragedy came as the Canadian military announced they would be pulling troops out of Iraq to the relative safety of Kuwait.

Chief of the Defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said in a tweet some of the 500 Canadian soldiers in Iraq are being temporarily moved due to safety concerns.

“Over the coming days, and as a result of Coalition and NATO planning, some of our people will be moved temporarily from Iraq to Kuwait – simply put, we are doing this to ensure their safety and security,” Vance wrote.

Canadian troops are in Iraq mainly to train the country’s army on how to fight ISIS.

“Naturally, the work we are doing on these missions, and the future of operations in Iraq, remain conditional on maintaining a sufficiently secure and productive operational environment,” Vance said.

Soleimani was buried early Wednesday in his hometown of Kerman, in southern Iraq, in a funeral that was delayed for hours by the crush of hundreds of thousands of mourners.

Iran’s news agency ISNA quoted coroner Abbas Amian as saying the stampede killed about 50 people. Officials said the Tuesday crush also injured 213 people.

Emergency medical services chief Pirhossein Kolivand told state television: “Today, because of the heavy congestion of the crowd unfortunately a number of our fellow citizens who were mourning were injured and a number were killed.”

Soleimani, responsible for foreign activities of the Qud force was slain in a U.S. drone strike as he was driven out of a Baghdad airport on Friday.

His death has prompted vows of bloody revenge from the people and leaders of Iraq.

“We will take revenge, a hard and definitive revenge,” the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, told mourners at the funeral before the stampede.

The Fars news agency said 13 revenge scenarios were being considered by Iran.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told Fars that even the weakest option would prove “a historic nightmare for the Americans.”

Trump has vowed to hit back if Iran retaliates, saying he would target 52 sites within the country, including cultural places. That’s the same number of American hostages held by Iranian students in 1980.

The U.S. has deployed 6 massive B-52 bombers to standby in the Indian Ocean.

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Editor of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Third pastor arrested in Alberta for breaking COVID lockdowns

Pastor Tim Stephens, of the Fairview Baptist Church, was arrested by city police on Sunday afternoon.

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A Calgary baptist preacher has become the third religious leader arrested in Alberta for breaking COVID-19 regulations over church attendance.

Pastor Tim Stephens, of the Fairview Baptist Church, was arrested by city police on Sunday afternoon. He had been the subject of repeated warnings from Alberta Health Services for having too many people at his services.

Earlier this month, on the church’s website, Stephens vowed to contiue services.

“Our actions are borne out of theological commitments to the Lordship of Christ and his instruction to the church as revealed in Scripture,” wrote Stephens.

“This, above all, is the reason why we have been gathering and will continue to gather … the consequences may be severe. But we stand before Christ rather than bend before consequences.”

Pastor James Coates, of the GraceLife Church, outside Edmonton, spent a month in jail after he was arrested by the RCMP for breaking lockdown regulations repeatedly. His case is still before the courts.

Last week, Pastor Art Pawlowski was arrested in Calgary for continuing to flout the regulations at his street chruch.

Calgary police at the AHS issued a joint statement saying Stephens was “arrested this afternoon for organizing a church service that was held today at Fairview Baptist Church, located at 230 78 Ave. S.E., that did not comply with public health orders, including masking, physical distancing and attendance limits. Police did not enter the church during today’s service.

“CPS has received repeated calls from concerned citizens regarding church services held at Fairview Baptist Church over the past several weeks. Last weekend, Pastor Stephens was proactively served a copy of the Court of Queen’s Bench Order obtained by AHS,” the statement said.

“The pastor acknowledged the injunction, but chose to move forward with today’s service, ignoring requirements for social distancing, mask-wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees.

“For several weeks, AHS has attempted to work collaboratively with leadership at Fairview Baptist Church to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site. It is only when significant risk is identified or continued non-compliance is noted that AHS resorts to enforcement action.

“Once again, CPS acknowledges it is important to understand that law enforcement recognizes people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to protest. However, as we are still in a global pandemic, we all must comply with public health orders in order to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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LETTER: Hypocrisy in high school rodeo approval

I see the hypocrisy Premier Kenney, can you?

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RE: Hinshaw grants approval for high school rodeos

Dr. Hinshaw approved school rodeos after Premier Kenney thought the rodeo near Bowden was a bad idea. It’s the mixed messaging these two are giving that is making me mad. A lockdown with very minimum exemptions is what I thought Hinshaw wanted, but apparently not. A school rodeo can bloody well wait until after the lockdown is completed!! Let up on the Whistle Stop Cafe then, Dr. Hinshaw. What a bully.

It’s a real kick by Hinshaw, at the Whistle Stop Cafe owner. With his cafe now in chains, while Dr. Hinshaw gives out approvals during this so-called circuit breaker lockdown.

I see the hypocrisy Premier Kenney, can you?

Steven Ruthven
Calgary, AB

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Opposition calls for crackdown on animal activists

A proposed private members bill, C-205, would amend the Health of Animals Act to punish trespassers on farms with a maximum $250,000 fine and/or a maximum two-year prison sentence.

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By EMMA GREGORY

A coalition of federal Conservatives, NDP and Bloc MPs want to increase punishment for animal rights activists trespassing on farms, because they might make the animals sick.

A proposed private members bill, C-205, would amend the Health of Animals Act to punish trespassers on farms with a maximum $250,000 fine and/or a maximum two-year prison sentence.

Chief Veterinary Officer for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said there are no proven instances of an animal rights activists spreading a disease to animals while protesting at a farm.

“To our knowledge, there are not many documented cases from trespassing or from people having demonstrations. The one that I heard is the one in Quebec, but I’m not actually sure if there is evidence of transmission from the activists to the pigs. So in the scientific literature, we have not seen much evidence of transmission of disease from these activities,” said Dr. Jaspinder Komal, to the agriculture committee earlier this month.

The one instance Komal mentioned was an allegation made by Porgreg, a pig breeding facility in Saint Hyacinthe, Que.

The activists involved in that protest, members of the group Direct Action Everywhere, are charged under the Criminal Code with breaking and entering and mischief. Whether or not they gave pigs rotavirus is a matter before the court.

Rotaviruses are common amongst pig herds and typically are transmitted from pig to pig, via the fecal-oral route.

If a human were to spread a novel rotavirus to a pig it would be in a similar fashion.

When asked if she or any of her associates pooped in the barn, activist Jenny McQueen said, “No.”

Komal said the CFIA does not police activists.

“The CFIA enforces the Health of Animals Act and regulations which address disease and biological, chemical, physical agents that may affect animals or be transmitted to persons and in the same way to protect animals from these risks…CFIA inspectors are public officers they are not peace officers… In contrast, peace officers are generally police officers, their powers include the ability to detain or arrest individuals. Peace officers may also be armed where public officers such as inspectors are not,” he said.

There are several new provincial laws that seek to lay blame for disease outbreaks in farmed animals on activists.

The Canadian Biosecurity Guideline lists an intentional act of contaminating animals with a disease is considered a possible threat of bioterrorism.

Gregory is a Vancouver-based freelance reporter

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