In the News

Nov 30, 2020

Promising that the federal government will do “whatever it takes”, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland closed out November with an economic statement which includes a short-term stimulus package valued at up to $100 million. “Spending roughly three to four per cent of GDP, over three years, our government will make carefully judged, targeted and meaningful investments to create jobs and boost growth,” she said. The 2020-2021 deficit was already forecast to top $381 billion.

Nov 30, 2020

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team evidently has cybersecurity a priority if impending cabinet nominees are any indication. The named individuals would begin “working immediately to rebuild our institutions, renew and reimagine American leadership to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, and address the defining challenges of our time.”

Nov 30, 2020

A German administrative court has ruled that the government cannot be compelled ensure that U.S. drone strikes controlled from Ramstein comply with international law. The case was brought by human rights groups on behalf of Yemenis whose relatives were killed in a 2012 strike. The ruling restores a lower court’s finding that the government could balance its legal obligations with “foreign and defense policy interests.”

Nov 30, 2020

An Ottawa-based military family has filed a complaint with the Ontario Landlord & Tenant Board, alleging that the Saudi Arabian embassy evicted them in bad faith. They say that Chargé d'affaires Sulaiman AlAqeel had said he planned to move into the property but that it was subsequently listed for sale.

Nov 30, 2020

Canada is extending its ban on non-essential entry by most travellers who are not Canadians, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. The ban on entries from the U.S. is extended to Dec. 21 and on others until Jan. 21, as are 14-day quarantine requirements.

Nov 30, 2020

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wants to rule out mandatory vaccinations in his province. He plans to have the Public Health Act amended so as to remove a section which authorizes the government to immunize persons during an emergency.

Nov 30, 2020

Transiting WestJet passengers at Vancouver International Airport can opt for rapid COVID-19 testing as a part of a joint study with the airline. The test can yield results in 15-20 minutes, which the airport says makes then “a feasible option for study in the live airport environment.”

Nov 30, 2020

Responding to a U.S. plan to import of Canadian prescription drugs from Canada in a bid to reduce prices in the U.S., Canada has blocked bulk exports which would result in domestic shortages. “Companies will now also be required to provide information to assess existing or potential shortages, when requested, and within 24 hours if there is a serious or imminent health risk,” says Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

Nov 30, 2020

An Ottawa Police Service officer who had been suspended after being notified of a disciplinary investigation, has committed suicide. His death comes as the service has attempted to improve officer mental health and wellbeing while grappling with a year of repeated misconduct allegations.

Nov 30, 2020

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is blaming Israel for last week’s killing near Tehran of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. “Iran's enemies should know that the people of Iran and officials are braver than to leave this criminal act unanswered,” he says. “In due time, they will answer for this crime.”

Nov 30, 2020

Nearly two years after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver at the request of the U.S., a company spokesman says it put Canada in a “very difficult” position. Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained by China days after Meng’s arrest. The Huawei spokesman says China respects “the rule of law” and that while he understands that their families are hopeful for their repatriation, China is hopeful to see Meng released.

Nov 30, 2020

In the runup to the release of the federal government’s fiscal update, Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre says rebuilding the economy in a post-pandemic environment will require a huge overhaul of the tax system and regulatory regime. “We don't need subsidized corporate welfare schemes that rely on endless bailouts from the taxpayer,” he says. “That will only indebt us further, and all the jobs they temporarily create will disappear when taxpayer money runs out.”

Nov 27, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has chosen former NATO commander MGen Dany Fortin to spearhead the government’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Most recently chief of staff for Canadian Joint Operations Command, he becomes vice-president for logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Nov 27, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his provincial counterparts held a virtual meeting Nov. 26 to discuss distribution of COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The premiers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick say per capita distribution will be based on vulnerability. “We expect certain vaccines to become available in early 2021,” says Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, meaning that six million Canadians could be vaccinated by March.

Nov 27, 2020

Unlike many other nations struggling to contain COVID-19, Australia mounted an aggressive campaign after a surge in cases in late July. Roadblocks in many cities ensured residents stayed home and when the initial second-wave lockdown was eased, nightly curfews and travel restrictions were enforced by stiff fines.

Nov 27, 2020

North Korean hackers are said to have tried to hack into companies developing coronavirus vaccines in South Korea, says a member of the latter’s parliament. Ha Tae-keung says his National Intelligence Service did not specify how many and which manufacturers were targeted. The disclosure came after Microsoft had reported that North Korean and Russian hackers had tried to break into the research and corporate networks in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the U.S.

Nov 27, 2020

At least two people have been executed, fishing has been banned and the country’s capital locked down as North Korea tries to contain COVID-19 and its economic impact. This is according to South Korean intelligence officials who also said North Korean diplomats have been told not to do anything to provoke the U.S.

Nov 27, 2020

An Iranian diplomat posted to Austria is on trial in Belgium, together with two Belgian nationals of Iranian origin, for their alleged involvement in a plot to bomb a rally of Iranian expatriates in in France. They were arrested after European intelligence agencies tracked the couple to a meeting in Luxembourg with the counsellor from the Iranian embassy in Vienna.

Nov 26, 2020

In the first ruling by a Canadian court on the constitutionality of consecutive sentencing, Quebec’s Court of Appeal has ruled that the 40-year prison sentence of Alexandre Bisonnette, who killed six persons and critically injured several others at a Quebec City mosque in 2017, was “cruel and unusual.” Employing Criminal Code amendments passed by Parliament in 2011, the trial judge imposed five concurrent 25-year sentences and added 15 years on behalf of the survivors. The appellate court said he should have been sentenced to 25 years without parole.

Nov 26, 2020

Subject to Health Canada approval, the government is eyeing January 2021 to begin working with the provinces and territories to distribute “the first millions” of COVID-19 vaccines. In announcing the timeline, Dominic LeBlance, Privy Council President and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc also disputed reports that Canada is at the back of the international distribution line.

Nov 26, 2020

Even if Canada had developed its own COVID-19 vaccine, there evidently is no way to produce it in the necessary volumes. Earl Brown, an infections diseases expert and member of the N1N1 vaccine task force in 2009, says federal authorities took their “eye off the ball” by permitting some domestic pharmaceutical companies to be sold to multinationals. He says the remaining facilities have a “tighter production line and not so much capacity.”

Nov 26, 2020

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendocino has confirmed that 1,300 professional athletes have received ministerial “national interest” exemptions from Canada’s COVID-19 border restrictions. He says they were exempt from the general 14-day quarantine period because their leagues had pandemic mitigation plans which had been approved by public health authorities.

Nov 26, 2020

Iran has freed a British-Australian academic sentenced to 10 years for espionage in return for the released of three Iranians jailed “who had been detained abroad” on what Tehran says were “baseless charges.”

Nov 26, 2020

Nearly 500 persons accused of participating in a 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, including 337 military officers, have been sentenced to life imprisonment. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government said the attempted overthrow directed from Akinci air base near Ankara resulted in 251 deaths and more than 2,000 injuries.

Nov 25, 2020

Michael Flynn, the retired U.S. Army General who pleaded guilty twice to lying to FBI investigators about interaction with Russian contacts during Donald Trump’s transition into power in 2016, has received a full presidential pardon. Flynn, who led the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2021 to 2014 and became Trump’s National Security Advisor, was fired in February 2017.

Nov 25, 2020

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says tough talk about China could undermine efforts to have two detained Canadians released. He told a parliamentary committee that MPs should keep Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in mind when they criticize China.

Nov 25, 2020

Since Canada’s travel restrictions on non-essential international travellers came into effect in mid-March, more than 335,000 foreign nationals, with the U.S. at the top of the list, had flown into this country as of October. The Canada Border Services Agency also reports that 154 national interest exemptions were granted.

Nov 25, 2020

Heidi Illingworth, the federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, says a five-year-old statute which ostensibly gave victims new rights needs to be revisited. She has made 15 recommendations for improvement. “Strengthening victims' rights and providing them a guarantee of support and assistance would encourage more people to actually come forward and empower them to seek legal support and social supports,” she says.

Nov 25, 2020

Most Canadians can expect to receive an emergency public alert on their TVs, radios and mobile devices today in a national test of the system. The time, five minutes before the hour, varies by region.

Nov 24, 2020

An independent analysis of NATO says that while the alliance can expect to benefit from a new U.S. presidency, it must adapt a more comprehensive and resilient agenda to remain relevant globally. The analysis underscores the growing need to tackle “corrosive” cyber operations, disinformation campaigns and supply chain disruptions, among other things. In addition, “NATO’s core tasks of collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security must be expanded to include countering challenges that contribute to global instability.”

Nov 24, 2020

The latest annual RCMP report on Canadians’ firearms ownership, released by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, shows that Yukon residents ranked highest at 19.2 licences per 100 residents.

Nov 24, 2020

Even though it has never been a signatory to the 2002 Open Skies treaty through which 34 other countries agreed to let others conduct military overflights, China has criticized the U.S. withdrawal. “This move . . . undermines military mutual trust and transparency among relevant countries, is not conducive to maintaining security and stability in relevant regions and will also have a negative impact on the international arms control and disarmament process,” a foreign ministry spokesman says.

Nov 24, 2020

The Canada Energy Regulator suggests that the federal government’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will require a more aggressive shift away from oil and gas. It says in its latest annual Energy Futures report that petroleum is likely to account for nearly two-thirds of Canada’s energy sources three decades hence.

Nov 24, 2020

More than four decades after the U.S. and the Soviet Union brought back lunar material for analysis, China has launched its robotic Chang'e-5 spacecraft to the Moon on schedule. The goal is to return more and larger samples to Earth in mid-December.

Nov 23, 2020

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has announced that the federal government will Canadians a further update at the end of the month on the government’s fiscal situation. The government has yet to table a 2020-2021 budget, opting instead for an initial “fiscal snapshot” in July which projected a record $343.2 billion deficit.

Nov 23, 2020

A retired Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen Rick Hillier, will head a new Ontario government body tasked with distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Announcing the “monumental” undertaking, Premier Doug Ford cited “early signs of success” on vaccine development and said the first doses should be available in early 2021.

Nov 23, 2020

President Donald Trump, despite continuing his unsubstantiated allegations about widespread voter fraud in the recent U.S. elections, has directed officials to prepare for a transition to President-elect Joe Biden. A key element is that Emily Murphy, who heads the General Services Administration, will begin freeing up funds so that the incoming Democrats team can begin coordinating with the outgoing Republicans well before January’s swearing-in ceremony.

Nov 23, 2020

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is on trial for alleged corruption and influence-peddling. The charges arise from accusations that he tried to bribe a magistrate in an attempt to get information about an investigation into his political party’s finances.

Nov 23, 2020

A human rights complaint has been filed against the Bank of Montreal and the Vancouver Police Board after a First Nation man and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open an account for the girl. Bank staff called police because they suspected their documentation was false and because the grandfather had a significant amount in his own account, which happened to be government payments from an aboriginal rights settlement.

Nov 23, 2020

A supposedly secure videoconference of European Union defence ministers recently had an unwelcome participant: a journalist in the Netherlands. Having managed to log in after Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld inadvertently posted some access details on Twitter, Daniel Verlaan apologized and logged out when challenged by Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has directed his cabinet to improve their security practices.

Nov 23, 2020

Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google, Oracle and IBM have been awarded a multi-billion-dollar contract to handle the U.S. intelligence community’s accelerating shift to cloud computing over the next 15 years. The contract requires them to compete for work ordered by the CIA and 16 other agencies.

Nov 23, 2020

The 305-metre Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, one of the most scientifically productive facilities in astronomical history, is permanently out of commission. After the recent collapse of a second of its supporting cables, engineers say they are unable to repair the structure safely.

Nov 23, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has agreed with other G20 leaders keep trade flowing, fight climate change and provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries. The agreement is outlined in the final communique of the two-day international economic summit. However, there is now new funding set out in their commitments.

Nov 23, 2020

Nineteen Global Affairs Canada employees are working part-time on former finance minister Bill Morneau’s bid to be the next Secretary General of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. GAC confirms that “officials in the department and at the permanent delegation of Canada to the OECD are providing support” while continuing with “regular duties.”

Nov 23, 2020

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in favour of an Ontario man found not criminally responsible for sexual assault against his wife in 2002. Having received an absolute discharge in 2003, he had sought to have his name kept off a sex offender registry which would have obliged him to report to provincial authorities for life.

Nov 23, 2020

Hours after demonstrators had been removed by Ottawa police from a two-day blockade of a main downtown intersection, a group of protestors gathered at headquarters to demand the release of 12 individuals who had been arrested. Police subsequently confirmed the release of 12 persons, most of whom had been charged with mischief.

Nov 23, 2020

Confusion about the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses to be available across Canada has prompted federal Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand to highlight the importance of coordination on an “efficient distribution across this country.” She chalks up the confusion to some provinces “extrapolating” preliminary numbers on supplies which are contingent on regulatory approvals.

Nov 23, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump used his last appearance at a G20 summit to rail against the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, reiterating that its emissions-reduction targets were actually designed to cripple the U.S. economy. Shortly after his brief video statement to the virtual meeting, he left to play golf.

Nov 23, 2020

Significant turnover at the upper echelons of the Pentagon, coupled with delayed nomination of replacements, means that 40 percent of the top jobs requiring Senate confirmation are vacant. They include some of the most senior positions, including the Secretary of Defense and undersecretaries of intelligence, policy, research and engineering.

Nov 23, 2020

Canada and Britain have reached an interim post-Brexit trade agreement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British PM Boris Johnson announced Nov. 21. It essentially reflects Canada’s current Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union.

Nov 23, 2020

Former President Barack Obama says he expects that the turbulence between the U.S. and Canada in the past four years has been “anomalous" and he’s confident that the situation will return to normal. “On my scale of worries, in the aftermath of the Trump administration, the relationship between the United States and Canada is not at the top of the list,” he says. “We've got some bigger problems, in terms of managing America's role internationally.”

Nov 23, 2020

U.S. Customs and Border Protection could be permitted to implement an upgraded biometric entry-exit policy which would eliminate age restrictions and opting-out by foreign nationals. Among other things, the new approach also would enable CBP to expand its program to more than 15 air and seaports.

Nov 23, 2020

The cost and apparent complexity of COVID-19 testing evidently is a deterrent for many employers. This is based on responses from more than 1,100 companies surveyed by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Arizona State University.

Nov 20, 2020

COVID-19 restrictions at the Canada-U.S. land border will remain in effect at least until Dec. 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Nov. 20. All non-essential crossings have been prohibited since mid-March.

Nov 20, 2020

Draft legislation introduced in Parliament Nov. 19 would set legally-binding greenhouse gas emissions targets over the next 30 years, but it doesn’t specify what those targets might be. If passed, Bill C-12 would require the federal environment minister to set five-year targets from 2030 through to 2050, the government’s stated target for achieving net-zero emissions.

Nov 20, 2020

The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen Frank McKenzie, says that although the Islamic State is battered and scattered, the extremist group cannot be fully defeated until thousands of displace civilians in Iraq and Syria are dealt with. “The systemic indoctrination of . . . refugee camp populations who are hostage to the receipt of ISIS ideology is an alarming development with potentially generational implications,” he says, calling for a combined diplomatic, security and humanitarian organization solution. “If we don’t address this now, we’re never really going to defeat ISIS.”

Nov 20, 2020

Canadians are being urged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reduce their social contacts as COVID-19 cases spike and an evolving surge threatens to overwhelm the health care network. “Canada could have up to 20,000 new cases daily by the end of December if we don’t limit or reduce our contacts now,” he said Nov. 20. “If we loosen and increase our contacts we could see tens of thousands more. I know this isn’t what people wanted to hear but we have to be realistic.

Nov 20, 2020

With a population of some 145 million, Russia has the world's fifth-largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases after the U.S., India, Brazil and France. Its official count topped two million this week as daily infections and deaths increased. “This topic is now a priority,” says a spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin.

Nov 20, 2020

Canada and its partners in the Five Eyes security alliance – Australia, Britain, New Sealand and the U.S. ­ – have been threatened by a Chinese foreign ministry official. Accusing the allies of accusing Beijing of silencing critics in Hong Kong, Zhao Lijian says that countries which “dared harm China's sovereignty . . . should beware that their eyes could be blinded” and it did not “matter if they have five or 10 eyes.”

Nov 20, 2020

U.S. health officials, wrestling with a second COVID-19 wave across much of the country, want Americans to avoid travel during their Thanksgiving holiday weekend. “Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” said Nov. 19.

Nov 20, 2020

U.S. regulators have finished the second phase of a traffic management pilot program for unmanned aircraft systems which could lead to beyond line-of-site drone operations. “Flight testing . . . capabilities in high-density airspace will help us develop policy for safely and efficiently integrating drones into our national airspace while benefiting and serving communities,” the Federal Aviation Administration says.

Nov 20, 2020

Women and members of the LGBTQ community in the RCMP have encountered physical violence and harassment resulting from “misogynistic, racist and homophobic attitudes” at all levels, says a former Supreme Court of Canada judge. A report released by Justice Michael Bastarache is based on an assessment of more than 3,000 claims and 644 interviews. “This process has forever tarnished the image of the RCMP as a Canadian icon,” he says.

Nov 20, 2020

A New Brunswick man who killed two police officers and two civilians in Fredericton in August 2018 has been found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder. The 11-member’s jury’s decision was reached after several days of deliberation. Matthew Raymond’s defence counsel has said the admitted shooter would be institutionalized indefinitely and subject to regular assessments.

Nov 19, 2020

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canadian fleets of Boeing 737 Max jetliners owned by Air Canada and WestJet will remain grounded for now, but he expects recertification “very soon”. He was commenting on the U.S. recertification of the aircraft, all of which were taken out of service after two crashes attributed to flight controls conflicts.

Nov 19, 2020

Chinese President Xi Jinping says his country plans to open its “super-sized” economy to import more high-quality goods and services. He also expects more free trade agreements to be signed and that China will not “decouple” from other economies.

Nov 19, 2020

Opposition parties in the House of Commons are pressing the Liberal government to take a harder line against alleged national security threats from China. Passed by a 179-146 vote Nov. 18, the Conservative motion calls on the government to not only decide within 30 days on whether Huawei Technologies can supply equipment for Canada's 5G& networks but also address the issue of Chinese intimidation tactics in Canada.

Nov 19, 2020

The number of deaths in the U.S. attributed to COVID-19 has surpassed 250,000 and with daily diagnoses confirmed at some 2,000, the infection rate is expected to continue rising steeply. In the early stages of the global pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speculated that the U.S. toll could be up to 240,000.

Nov 19, 2020

Dominion Voting Systems, an elections technology company founded in Toronto, is being targeted by President Donald Trump as part of his claim that the recent U.S. presidential election was rigged. Among other things, Trump has called Dominion a “radical left” company with a “bad reputation” and “bum equipment.” The company, which supplies equipment to many U.S. states, calls the allegations baseless.

Nov 19, 2020

State-sponsored cyber activity by China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea pose the “greatest strategic threats” to Canada’s critical infrastructure, intellectual property and politics, according to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. In its latest threat assessment report, the agency within the Communications Security Establishment says the foreign cyberattacks are “almost certainly” continuing.

Nov 19, 2020

A four-year internal inquiry has found “credible evidence” that Australian special forces killed “prisoners, farmers or civilians” in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2013. Blaming an unchecked “warrior culture”, the inquiry has recommended that 19 current or former troops should be investigated further. Australia has had forces in Afghanistan since 2002 as part of a U.S.-led coalition.

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