Calls to Cancel Canada Day and good news in Ottawa's fight against COVID-19: Top five stories this week

A pedestrian walks past The Bank of Canada in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Cancel Canada Day march on Parliament Hill, Ottawa reaches new milestones in the COVID-19 pandemic and remembering Rabbi Reuven Bulka. looks at the top five stories on our website this week.

'Shame on Canada': Thousands attend Cancel Canada Day rally on Parliament Hill

A sea of orange shirts replaced the usual red and white on Parliament Hill on July 1, as thousands of people called to "Cancel Canada Day."

The Anishnabe nation and Indigenous rights group Idle No More organized the "#CancelCanadaDay" march following the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Thousands of people, many wearing orange shirts, shouted "Shame on Canada", "No pride on genocide," and "Bring them home" as they marched from the Indigenous Services Canada building in Gatineau to Parliament Hill.

Canada Day events were cancelled in Ottawa for a second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

'Really impressive milestone': No COVID-19 patients in Ottawa ICUs for first time in 2021

An Ottawa doctor called it a "huge sigh of relief" to see no COVID-19 patients in intensive care units at hospitals across the city this week.

Ottawa Public Health reported zero patients in intensive care units at Ottawa hospitals with COVID-19 on Thursday for the first time since Dec. 21, 2020.  As of Saturday, there was just one person admitted to an Ottawa hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses.

"Oh my goodness, this huge sigh of relief when you think about what that represents, what that symbolizes," said Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng.

"Like when you think about what the families have had to go through during these times, when we were bringing patients in from the GTA, for example, and having that family separation. When you think about the staff, all of us putting in that extra time and the emotional, physical toll that it took on a lot of us, it's just amazing to be in this spot."

The rate of COVID-19 in the community also continues to fall.

As of Saturday, there were just 56 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa. That's the lowest number of active cases since the start of the first wave in the spring of 2020.

  COVID-19 Cases in Ottawa

Vaccination records smashed in Ottawa last week

Ottawa's COVID-19 vaccine rollout continued to move full speed ahead this week, setting records for vaccines administered in a week and new highs for vaccination rates.

As of Saturday, 80 per cent of adults 18 and older had received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 40 per cent had received two doses.

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has set a goal for a 90 per cent vaccination rate for all residents.

The vaccination milestones came as Ontario expanded the eligibility for an accelerated second dose. More than 100,000 appointments were booked when Ontario announced all adults 18 and older were eligible for an accelerated second dose starting June 28. As of Monday, all youth 12 to 17 will be eligible to book an accelerated second dose.

Meantime, Ottawa Public Health reported a one-week record for COVID-19 vaccines administered and surpassed 1,000,000 total doses administered

A total of 127,507 doses were administered for the week ending June 27, compared to the previous two weeks when 90,000 doses were administered each week.

Some great news to start your Saturday, 40% of Ottawa adult residents have received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine!

Starting Monday, residents aged 12+ will be able to book their accelerated second dose appointment. For details, visit

— Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) July 3, 2021

Rabbi Reuven Bulka, beloved Ottawa community pillar, dies at 77

Tributes poured in this week for Rabbi Reuven Bulka, the beloved Ottawa community pillar who died at the age of 77.

The Congregation Machzikei Hadas announced Rabbi Bulka, 77, passed away in New York City on Sunday, just over five months after disclosing he had been diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer.

"The Jewish community has lost a giant from the community, the Canadian community has lost a giant and the world at large has lost an unbelievable person," said Rabbi Bulka's son Shmuel Bulka during a funeral service in New York City on Sunday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to "Canada's Rabbi."

"Rabbi Bulka inspired Jewish Canadians and people across the country to live with optimism, humility, and devotion to kindness," said Trudeau.

Mayor Jim Watson called Rabbi Bulka, "an outstanding community and religious leader who spent a lifetime bringing people together and fighting racism while looking for kindness in one another."

40 km/h over the speed limit now considered stunt driving on Ottawa streets

Ontario rolled out changes to the province's stunt driving laws on Canada Day, including stricter roadside penalties for speeding and a lower threshold for stunt driving on municipal streets.

As of July 1, the threshold for stunt driving on municipal roads drops to 40 km/h over the speed limit instead of 50 km/h an hour. The changes mean a motorist stopped speeding more than 40 km/h over the speed limit on a road with a speed limit less than 80 km/h faces a charge of stunt driving.

The roadside penalty for stunt driving is now a seven-day licence suspension and a 14-day vehicle impoundment. Ottawa police say starting in September, the roadside penalty for stunt driving and racing will be an automatic 14-day licence suspension.

Meantime, Ottawa police were kept busy by stunt drivers on Ottawa roads.

On Friday, a G2 driver was stopped going 132 km/h on Bronson Avenue. The speed limit is 60 km/h in the area where the driver was observed speeding.

Also on Friday, a 51-year-old driver was spotted going 146 km/h on Bronson Avenue.

On Wednesday, a G1 driver was stopped going 105 km/h in a 60 km/h area on Heron Road.

#stuntdriving on Mer Bleu tonight.
127 km in a 60km/hr area.
Reminder- as of July 1st- in areas where the speed limit is lower than 80km/hr, going 40km over the limit is now considered stunt driving.
If limit is 80km +, stunt driving remains 50km+ over the limit.@OttawaPolice

— OPS Traffic Unit (@OPSTrafficCM) July 3, 2021