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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 Division 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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BREAKING: Omicron found in Alberta

On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced 156 Albertans self-quarantining after returning from travel in a country that had been hit with Omicron.

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The tentacles of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have reached Alberta.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said an Albertan returning home from Nigeria, via the Netherlands, has tested positive for Omicron.

Hinshaw said they tested positive a week ago and the person, who traveled alone, is now self-quarantining.

She said medical officials are trying to “delay” the spread of the variant until more research is done.

But Hinshaw refused to say where the traveller lives over fear it would identify them.

Hinshaw also urged people not to take out their frustrations against the family of the infected person nor the countries that are under an Omicron watch.

And she said people shouldn’t “think of this as a reset to Ground Zero.”

In her daily update, Hinshaw said in the last 24 hours, health officials have found 238 new cases of coronavirus. There are 434 people in the hospital with 81 in ICU. Another six people are reported to have succumbed to the virus.

On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced 156 Albertans self-quarantining after returning from travel in a country that had been hit with Omicron.

Six confirmed cases of the variant of concern have now been confirmed in Canada so far.

Earlier in the day, Canada added Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt to its Omicron travel ban.

On Friday, the government put restrictions on travellers from South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

“Obviously we’re watching very, very closely the situation with Omicron,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on his way into the cabinet meeting.

“There may be more we need to do and we’ll be looking at it very carefully.”

More to come…

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

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Unvaxxed grounded in Canada

As of November 30, travellers will no longer be allowed to submit a negative test result in place of proof of vaccination to board a plane or train in Canada.

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As of Tuesday, Canadian travellers over the age of 12 will no longer be able to fly or travel by train in Canada without proof of vaccination.

The policy was originally set to come into effect on October 30, however, the federal government announced it would grant a grace period to unvaccinated travellers allowing for a negative COVID-19 test to be provided within 72 hours of the trip.

As of November 30, travellers will no longer be allowed to submit a negative test result in place of proof of vaccination to board a plane or train in Canada.

The new travel restrictions for the unvaccinated come on the heels of the emergence of a new variant of concern (VOC) dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Cases involving the new variant, originally detected in South Africa, have been found in other countries including five cases within Canada.

Although there is not much known about the new variant at this time, the WHO confirmed scientists around the world are working to determine how the highly-mutated variant will affect transmissibility and severity of illness in the population.

Canada, along with other nations, closed its boards and expanded its screening protocols to travellers arriving from affected areas in southern Africa.

The Canadian airline industry welcomed the vaccine mandates when they were announced in October. Air Canada and West Jet have both confirmed they will be asking all travellers to produce proof of vaccination before boarding their carriers as of Tuesday.

While health measures such as masking and screening will still be required, no measures for quarantining individual travellers have been put in place with the exception of those who have travelled through or arrived from southern Africa.

“If you indicate to your airline or railway company that you’re eligible to board, but fail to provide proof of vaccination or valid COVID-19 test result, you won’t be allowed to travel and could face penalties or fines,” the government indicated in a statement.

The Canadian government is also warning permanent residents abroad to expect to provide vaccine passports to return home.

The rules don’t apply to commuter trains.

The Government of Canada has created a “reliable way to show proof of your COVID-19 vaccination history when travelling internationally and within Canada,” states the government’s website. The document is verified once uploaded to ArriveCAN upon returning to the country.

The website warns travellers are not guaranteed entry to another country with the documents and suggests checking the rules of your destination country and the countries you travel through.

“Today, Canada passed a sad milestone in its history,” said Matt Slatter, a pilot with a major Canadian airline and a founder of Free 2 Fly, a hub that has “Canadian aviation professionals standing with passengers in defence of freedom.”

“No longer can it hold itself as a beacon of freedom and liberal values.”

The Free 2 Fly website encourages passengers and airline workers who “feel strongly that the ability to travel should not be linked to vaccination status,” to sign up and join their movement.

“With the advent of mandates requiring all aviation and rail passengers to be vaccinated, Canada is now effectively a two-tier society,” said Slatter.

“On one tier, compliant citizens are afforded many of the rights they once enjoyed in a free society. While the other tier is essentially relegated to their own localities, with limited exception.

“History suggests this style of governance will only lead to more tragedy and heartbreak. The cure is inevitably worse than the disease. Will Canada learn from the mistakes of the past?”

Currently, there are just under 38,000 signed up on the Free 2 Fly site. One of the goals of the group is to “wage a legal campaign to block, and/or overturn, all vaccination mandates.”

Melanie Risdon is a reporter for the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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CRTC trying to hang up on spoof calls

Caller ID spoofing occurs when callers hide or misrepresent their identity by displaying fictitious or altered phone numbers when making calls.

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All those calls from the taxman and Canadian Border Services officials threatening to arrest you could soon be coming to an end thanks to new regulations from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

“Many Canadians are now able to determine which calls can be trusted thanks to a new technology aimed at combating spoofed calls named STIR/SHAKEN. Caller ID spoofing is frequently used in nuisance and fraudulent calls to mask the identity of the caller,” said the CRTC in a release.

“As of today, telecommunications service providers will certify whether a caller’s identity can be trusted by verifying the caller ID information for Internet Protocol-based voice calls. This new technology will help reduce the frequency and impact of caller ID spoofing. As service providers continue to upgrade their IP networks and offer compatible phones to their customers, more and more Canadians will be able to see the effects of STIR/SHAKEN.”

It’s believed up to 25% of all calls in Canada are scams.

The CRTC said Caller ID spoofing occurs when callers hide or misrepresent their identity by displaying fictitious or altered phone numbers when making calls.

“This new caller ID technology will empower Canadians to determine which calls are legitimate and worth answering, and which need to be treated with caution. As more providers upgrade their networks, STIR/SHAKEN will undoubtedly reduce spoofing and help Canadians regain peace of mind when answering phone calls,” said Ian Scott, CRTC CEO.

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