en-US Lebanese Montrealers hold vigil in honour of Beirut blast victims In Montreal's tight-knit Lebanese community, almost everyone knows someone overseas who has been injured or killed in Tuesday's tragedy, according to Lamia Charlebois, who runs a Facebook page for the community. Thu, 06 2020 03:14:11 GMT Community groups urge officials to not cut support for most vulnerable amid COVID-19 recovery Advocates in Montreal say they fear cuts to services are on the way because governments have run up large financial deficits with emergency spending. Thu, 06 2020 03:39:37 GMT Lebanese-Canadians Band Together To Help Beirut Following Deadly Explosion Lebanese-Canadians who watched in horror as an explosion tore through Beirut turned their attention to helping their homeland on Wednesday, even as they struggled to process their grief at the tragedy.In Montreal’s tight-knit Lebanese community, almost everyone knows someone overseas who has been injured or killed in the tragedy, according to Lamia Charlebois, who runs a Facebook page for the community. The blast flattened Beirut’s busy port area, sending glass flying and collapsing walls, floors and balconies for kilometres, killing at least 135 people and wounding about 5,000, according to Lebanese officials. “We all have someone who is wounded, who is still not found, who is dead,” said Charlebois, who had a friend who was killed and another who lost an eye in the blast.“The community is extremely sad. There’s anguish and despair,” she said. “But at the same time we’re mobilized, and we want to help every way we can.”She said many in the Lebanese community have been donating to the Lebanese Red Cross, which is forced to handle the tragedy amid a COVID-19 crisis that has already left emergency rooms overcrowded. The Canadian Red Cross has also announced a support fund to help the country.Mohamad Moati of Vaughan, Ont., cited fundraising as one of the few ways to feel useful from the other side of the world.Moati was on the phone with his siblings in Lebanon’s capital when Tuesday’s blast levelled part of the city and heard the boom and the panic that followed.“There’s a sense of mixed emotion, of guiltiness for being grateful that we’re in a great country like Canada, and at the same time feeling very guilty that we can’t be back home with family members and friends and actually help out with the disaster,” he said.Moati said he and others in the “Lebanese in Canada” Facebook group he founded are working to raise money in hopes they can make things a little easier for those in Lebanon.“Everybody has been has been trying to help in their own way, whether it’s supporting with words, or supporting financially, or sharing information that can help other people that are back home,” he said.  Investigators in Lebanon began searching through the wreckage for clues to the cause of Tuesday’s explosion, and the government ordered port officials put under house arrest amid speculation that negligence was to blame.Though Lebanese emergency responders were still combing through the rubble in search of survivors and victims on Wednesday, some details about the extent of the damage are already known.Long-time Montreal resident Nizar Najarian was among the at least 135 who were killed, a city councillor confirmed, and the Canadian Armed Forces said one of its members was among the thousands who were injured.Ahmad Araji, president of the Lebanese Club of Ottawa, said he was still in shock a day after the incident and found it hard to put the magnitude of the tragedy into words.“There’s so little you can do from abroad,” he said. “And the country has been going through a lot. This is the last thing the people needed right now, especially with the economic crisis, poverty peaking, the currency crash, COVID.” He said his first cousin, his wife and their young daughter live in downtown Beirut and were hit by glass that shattered during the explosion.Fundraisers underwayHis group has started an online fundraiser that had raised thousands of dollars by early Wednesday afternoon for the Lebanese Red Cross and for hospitals.Charlebois said members of the community are supporting each other and have been comforted by the calls and messages of condolence from friends and strangers from across Canada.Montreal lowered its flag to half-mast, while the city’s Lebanese consulate announced a candlelit vigil for Thursday night.Charlebois urged the Canadian government to help by sending disaster response teams, environmental experts, and eventually building materials, “because the houses were blown up at a very big radius,” she said.Charles Aboukhaled, president of a Canadian-Lebanese business association, said discussions are already underway with the federal government to send emergency food and medical aid.He noted that a large portion of Lebanon’s grain reserves were decimated by the blast and that Beirut’s hospitals have been damaged and may lack medicine.The tragedy struck as Lebanon was already experiencing a severe economic crisis that has ignited mass protests in recent months. Its health system is confronting a surge of COVID-19, and there were concerns the virus could spread further as people flooded into hospitals.RELATED Canada Announces Deals To Obtain Potential COVID-19 Vaccines New Lockdowns Around The World Show We Can’t Get Coronavirus Complacent China Accuses U.S. Of ‘Smash And Grab’ Attempt To Buy TikTok Aboukhaled, like several other Lebanese-Canadians who spoke to The Canadian Press, pointed out that the country’s people have been shaped by decades of tragedy, including war and sporadic terrorist attacks.“We’re really in a state of shock and incredulity, asking, ‘When will this nightmare end?’” he said. While the immediate attention remains on the humanitarian effort, Aboukhaled said longer-term recovery needs to include meaningful answers about what really happened.Currently, the investigation is focusing on how 2,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilizers, came to be stored at the port facility for six years.“How can it be there were products like that, that this happened with these products, and who is responsible?” he asked.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2020.With files from The Associated Press Thu, 06 2020 01:59:55 GMT Quebec Nowhere Near Herd Immunity To COVID-19, Despite High Case Count MONTREAL — About 125,000 people in Quebec aged 18-69 are estimated to have contracted COVID-19, according to a new study published Wednesday by Quebec’s blood collection agency — more than three times the official number reported by health authorities.But the Hema-Quebec study indicates the majority of Quebecers remain vulnerable to being infected by the novel coronavirus, agency vice-president Dr. Marc Germain said.“The conclusion is obvious,” Germain said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s a very small proportion of the population who have been exposed to the virus during the first wave. And that means there are many people in the population who are susceptible to being infected.”It also means Quebec is far from developing what’s known as a natural or herd immunity against the virus, said Dr. Gaston De Serres with Quebec’s institute for national health, which collaborated on the study.So-called herd immunity occurs when enough of a population has contracted a virus and developed an immune response to it, helping to prevent them from getting reinfected and transmitting it. “With this data, it shows that herd immunity in Quebec is not present,” said De Serres. “Forget it.”Germain noted the increased case numbers mean the death rate from COVID-19 is far lower than portrayed in official figures. Germain said while it’s encouraging that the “vast majority” of people infected with COVID-19 survive, “we can’t forget there is still a significant amount of death. This is not a benign disease.”Quebec reported 155 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total number of people with confirmed infections to 60,000. The province also reported two additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, for a total of 5,687.Hema-Quebec’s antibody study involved a sample of 7,691 people aged 18-69 who donated blood between May 25 and July 9. It revealed 2.23 per cent of donors had been infected with COVID-19. The study indicated the highest rates of infection were found in Montreal and Laval, with just over three per cent, while in most of the rest of the province the rate was much lower at 1.29 per cent.Researchers extrapolated that about 124,880 people in the same group were infected across the province. Health authorities, meanwhile, had reported about 37,000 cases for the 20-to-69 age group during the same period.Germain said the study sample was likely representative of the general population because “there is no fundamental difference regarding the susceptibility of infection between someone who comes to give blood versus someone taken at random from the public.”De Serres explained the study is not complete. Everyone who donated blood and tested positive will be called in the coming weeks by Hema-Quebec to determine whether they felt symptoms, with results expected by the end of August.The key to managing the pandemic, De Serres said, is to know how many people infected with COVID-19 are symptomatic. “The higher the number of asymptomatic people, the more difficult it is to control the pandemic,” he said, explaining that people who don’t feel sick are less likely to be careful about hygiene or to get tested.Wednesday’s study is part of a series of COVID-19 research produced by Hema-Quebec. The agency recently studied the plasma donations of 15 people who recovered from COVID-19 and concluded the concentration of antibodies developed to fight the virus declined over time. In some cases, Germain said, they disappeared.“But does that mean there is no protection? Not necessarily,” he said, adding that a person’s immune system has other ways of protecting someone from being reinfected.RELATED Canada Announces Deals To Obtain Potential COVID-19 Vaccines How To Get Kids To Keep Their Face Masks On New Lockdowns Around The World Show We Can’t Get Coronavirus Complacent But the doctor said he is not particularly worried that people who have recovered from COVID-19 are looking at a reactivation of the disease years down the road, as is the case with those who catch such viruses as chicken pox or herpes.Given what scientists know about coronaviruses and what researches already know about COVID-19, he said, “I’d be very, very surprised if we discover all of a sudden, in many years, that a good number of people have a chronic infection or reactivation.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2020.Also on HuffPost: Thu, 06 2020 02:12:16 GMT Mural in Montreal’s Little Burgundy to honour Nelson Mandela It's been thirty years since Nelson Mandela visited Montreal and the Union United Church. Wed, 05 2020 23:50:02 GMT D’autres campements de sans abris à Montréal Les sites de campings d'itinérants se multiplient. TVA Nouvelles a découvert un autre endroit où ils sont plusieurs à vivre dans abris de fortune. Wed, 05 2020 22:27:45 GMT La communauté libanaise de Montréal sous le choc La communauté libanaise de Montréal est ébranlée au lendemain des explosions qui ont ravagé le cœur de Beyrouth mardi soir. Wed, 05 2020 22:47:36 GMT Veillée à Montréal pour les victimes libanaises Au lendemain des explosions meurtrières et dévastatrices au port de Beyrouth, des membres de la communauté libanaise se sont mobilisés à Montréal. Wed, 05 2020 23:54:40 GMT Longtime Montreal resident killed in Beirut explosion Among the victims of of the deadly blasts in Beirut Lebanon on Tuesday was Montreal businessman Nazar Najarian. Wed, 05 2020 16:39:46 GMT Montreal Police Officer Suspended For Entering Home At Night To Return Wallet MONTREAL — A Montreal police officer with a bizarre definition of a good deed was suspended without pay for three days after entering a family’s home “without any right” in the middle of the night to return a lost wallet. The series of events detailed in a recent decision from Quebec’s police ethics committee is downright bizarre. Officer Ghyslain Lavoie entered a house where lawyer Yves Gratton, his partner and their three children were sleeping, just before 2 a.m. on Aug 22, 2017. He was trying to return Mr Gratton’s daughter’s lost wallet, which had been found and turned in to police days earlier.Gratton is a legal aid defence lawyer who has been practising in Quebec since 1993. A few days after the events, he filed a complaint with the police ethics commissioner, the provincial office which examines complaints filed against police officers, wildlife protection officers, special constables, highway controllers and UPAC investigators who may have violated its code of conduct.Lavoie, who stated in his deposition he wasn’t aware of Gratton’s profession, went to great lengths to return the lost wallet. When it was given to him by a citizen who had found it, on Aug. 20, the police officer visited an address he found for the owner. When nobody answered the door, he decided to visit another address listed on the documents: Gratton’s home.Lavoie knocked on the door of the Gratton family’s home around 3:22 a.m on the night of Aug. 21, according to an account of events endorsed by both parties. Nobody answered. He tried calling Gratton’s partner’s phone, but no one picked up. He couldn’t leave a message because her voicemail was full, the committee’s decision notes.But Lavoie wasn’t ready to throw the towel. When he was back at work the following night, the officer returned to Gratton’s home with his partner, officer Milena Maturana. Around 1:46 a.m., Maturana rang the doorbell. Again, nobody answered.Meanwhile, Lavoie inspected the car parked in the driveway and noticed it was left unlocked. The officer then took out another wallet left on the passenger seat of the vehicle “wanting to prevent a theft,” administrative documents state.Determined to return the wallets to their owners, Lavoie went around the house to the back door, which was also unlocked. After knocking and ringing the doorbell multiple times, he entered the house.“In his deposition, he mentioned entering to check if there had been a theft or if someone needed assistance,” the committee noted in its decision.Awoken by Lavoie’s repeated calls of “Hello? Police,” Gratton got out of bed and came face to face with Lavoie, who was climbing the stairs to the first floor.“He sees a police officer in uniform in his home, who is shining a flashlight towards him,” the committee wrote.  Maturana is still downstairs.After a short conversation with Gratton, Lavoie handed him the wallets and cautioned him to always lock his door “for his safety.” The police officers then left the residence.A few minutes later, Gratton called 911 to complain about the intervention. He filed an official ethics complaint against both officers on Sept. 1. Three days suspensionLavoie, who has  never violated the police force’s code of conduct in his 26 years of service, admitted he had searched the lawyer’s car without having the right to do so. He also conceded that he shouldn’t have entered the home, “since he didn’t have any power or motive allowing him to enter in this space when the expectation of privacy is high.”In light of this, the committee accepted the parties’ joint recommendation to give him a three-day suspension without pay. Maturana wasn’t sanctioned because the investigation determined Lavoie spearheaded the intervention. Montreal police told HuffPost Quebec  it never comments in decisions rendered by the ethics committee about its employees. Stating the need to “respect the integrity of the process that led to the decision in this case,” the police service also refused to provide any information about what officers should do when someone gives them a found object such as a wallet.Yves Gratton couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.A lengthy processIt isn’t unusual for Quebec police ethics complaints to take months or even years to lead to sanctions. By law, the police ethics commissioner has 40 days to complete its preliminary investigation and determine if a complaint should be rejected, investigated or sent through a conciliation process. In practice, the average delay for a preliminary investigation was 58 days in 2018-2019.The average length of an investigation was 196 days, which were sometimes preceded by an unsuccessful mediation attempt. The average delay for a ruling was 56 days in 2018-2019, even though the law says it shouldn’t exceed 45 days.The commissioner then decides to cite the officer(s) before the police ethics committee. That’s when the delays really start piling up. According to the Committee’s most recent annual report, the average treatment delays for 80 per cent of cases was 589 days in 2018-2019.The Quebec government is hoping to cut these averages by 5 per cent every year, but failed to do so in 2018-2019, citing the lingering impacts of a 2016-2017 strike by lawyers working for the State.RELATED Ontario Police Union Flies Controversial Flag Tied To Blue Lives Matter Feds Crack Down On Americans Using #039;Alaska Loophole#039; Montreal Mom Charged With Murder In Death Of 6-Year-Old Tue, 04 2020 20:53:12 GMT