A short time after the Kremlin announced Vladimir Putin had agreed to send a delegation to Belarus for talks with Ukrainian officials, it now says peace talks look uncertain due to apparent differences over a venue. Putin initially agreed to talks after Ukrainian President Zelenskyy offered to discuss non-aligned status for Ukraine. But the Kremlin says Ukrainian officials aren’t willing to travel to Minsk and would prefer to meet in Poland, which is a NATO country. Putin has claimed that the western refusal to heed Russia’s demand to keep Ukraine out of NATO prompted him to order an invasion of the neighbouring country. Russian troops are continuing to advance into Kyiv, with reporters hearing explosions only 800 metres from the president’s headquarters.
Yellow and blue flags are flying in cities across Canada as Ukrainian Canadians demonstrate to denounce Russia’s attack on Ukraine and urge Ottawa to act swiftly to help defend their homeland. One Vancouver protester who moved to Canada 12 years ago but still has family in Ukraine she says she has received calls from family telling her tanks were coming and explosions had started. Another rally is to take place tomorrow at 1 p-m outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.
A Canadian security expert says Canada should be ready to offer sanctuary to those leaving Ukraine as Russian military continue their advancement into the country. He says its unclear how long Europe will keep its borders open, or how willing it will be to accommodate what could be an influx of millions of new asylum seekers. Canada has promised to prioritize immigration applications from Ukraine to bring people fleeing the country to safety as quickly as possible.
B.C. will begin rolling out broad distribution of COVID rapid tests starting today. The province says free kits containing five Rapid Antigen Tests will be available at select pharmacies Initially, the tests will only be available to people aged 70 and up and those at highest risk of more severe illness from COVID. The eligible ages will be expanded as more kits become available. The province says the number of locations where rapid tests are available will “grow rapidly with time and supply.” People who are eligible for the rapid tests will have to show their BC Services Card at the pharmacy. There will be a limit of one five-test kit per person within a 28-day period.
ICBC says court dates have been requested to dispute 417 tickets related to alleged COVID-19 mandate violations. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says people who don’t pay their fines but want to drive their vehicle may have to pay up. Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act last spring allow the corporation to refuse to issue drivers and vehicle licences to people who have not paid fines. This comes as the province reported 612 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, including 102 in intensive care.
Premier John Horgan is expected to make a cabinet announcement today. The throne last week said the government would create a new ministry for better stewardship and management of B-C’s lands and resources. The B-C budget includes funding for a new Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship. But an announcement about a minister to oversee the portfolio has not yet been made.
Canada is going after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s own personal wealth as part of a new set of sanctions against the country over its invasion of Ukraine. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says these sanctions also name Putin’s foreign minister and his chief of staff. Trudeau says Russia’s brutal attack is an atrocity for Ukraine’s over 40-million innocent citizens and for the world.
Ottawa will match donations individuals make to the Canadian Red Cross for humanitarian relief to Ukraine. This comes as invading Russian forces close in on the country’s capital. The campaign will run until March 18th. The federal government says it will match donations by Canadians dollar-for-dollar to a maximum of 10-million dollars. Russian forces are advancing on Kyiv, after invading Ukraine in a three-pronged attack that includes ground forces, aerial bombardment and a maritime assault.
British Columbia health officials announced today that there have been 583 new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 347,376. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said that 599 (-13) COVID-positive people are currently hospitalized, and 96 (-6) are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation. New cases are broken down by health region as follows:
- Fraser Health: 138 new cases
- Vancouver Coastal Health: 91 new cases
- Interior Health: 183 new cases
- Northern Health: 75 new cases
- Island Health: 96 new cases
- Outside of Canada: Zero new cases
There have been 12 new COVID-19-related deaths in British Columbia, for a total of 2,851 deaths in the province.
Vancouver police hope witnesses will come forward as they investigate an attack on a 44-year-old man who was walking through a small park in the Yaletown area when he was punched and kicked by two men as a large group of people looked on. Constable Tania Visintin says it happened late Sunday night and a bystander took a video of the assault and handed it to police, who arrested a 19-year-old Richmond man a short time later. The victim, who had left the area by the time police arrived, was located at his home when someone called 9-1-1 on his behalf. He is now recovering from what police say are significant facial injuries and Visintin says the video of the assault is being released in the hope someone can identified the other suspect involved.
Experts say social media is emerging as a key battleground in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, warning Canadians should be on the lookout for digital deceptions and propaganda. Ukrainian-Canadian journalist and researcher Jane Lytvynenko (lit-vih-NAYN’-koh) says the internet has been flooded with confusing and misleading information about how the Russian attack is unfolding. But she says social media has also served as a vital platform for sharing the realities of what’s happening on the ground and rallying humanitarian aid.
A 23-year-old man has life-threatening injuries after being hit by a car while crossing a street in Surrey. R-C-M-P say it happened late yesterday afternoon along a busy route through northwest Cloverdale. The driver of the Toyota Corolla stayed at the scene and investigators say alcohol and speed have been ruled out. They say the driver is co-operating they want to speak to anyone who has more information about the case.