In the News

Sep 27, 2021

A number of major health care networks in Ontario are among the growing numbers of employers introducing their own workplace COVID-19 vaccination policies which exceed those put in place by the provincial government. The stricter approach means unvaccinated staff could either be suspended or dismissed without severance.

Sep 27, 2021

With the “Two Michaels” safely repatriated from China, questions are being asked about Huseyin Celil, a naturalized Muslim Canadian in Chinese custody for much longer than three years. Jailed for his advocacy on behalf of the Uyghur minority, he fled China in 2001 and, as a UN-recognized refugee, became a Canadian citizen in 2005. However, during a visit to his wife’s family in Uzbekistan, he was arrested there and handed over to China, which has denied him consular access because Beijing does not recognize his Canadian citizenship.

Sep 27, 2021

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul announced today that she is stepping down after a year on the job. Paul, who failed in her own bid for a House of Commons seat in last week’s election, said she did not “have the heart for it” after the party’s poor showing in the election and party infighting.

Sep 27, 2021

A day after Taiwan declared its intention last week to join an 11-country Pacific trade group which includes Canada, China responded with yet another show of force, deploying fighters twice toward the island state it considers a rogue province. Taiwan tracked the aircraft and countered with its own assets.

Sep 27, 2021

Canada has been silent on the question of banning Shenzhen-based Huawei for security reasons even as China invoked a policy of detaining innocent Canadians for political ends. Now that Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have been returned, the federal government will start to feel pressure to make a decision that reflects the serious security concerns that have led many of our allies to ban the company from doing business their countries.

Sep 27, 2021

Centre-left Social Democrats are claiming victory in the Sept. 26 German election, taking 205 of the 735 seats in parliament. Party leader Olaf Scholz said he had a clear mandate to form a government and that it is time for a coalition with Greens and Liberal Democrats who made climate change a priority during the campaign. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been in power since 2005, is expected to remain in power until a coalition is sorted out.

Sep 27, 2021

Canadians have been able to fly freely to the U.S. throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but new U.S. rules could be a barrier for those immunized with two different vaccines. Effective Nov. 1, passengers must be fully vaccinated but the U.S. so far has yet to approve mixing vaccines.

Sep 27, 2021

A former Calgary city councillor elected to the House of Commons Sept. 20 is under investigation in response to a complaint that he removed an opponent's campaign material from a front porch. George Chahal, the only non-Conservative elected in the city, evidently was captured on a doorbell camera. City police say “the report has been directed to our Anti-Corruption Unit that handles investigations of a sensitive nature or involving a public official.”

Sep 27, 2021

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said Sept. 26 that Canada’s “eyes are wide open” when it comes to normalizing relations with China in the aftermath of the “Two Michaels” standoff. He said the government is now following a fourfold approach of “coexist,” “compete,” “cooperate” and “challenge” as it addresses trade, climate change and human rights concerns. “There was no path to a relationship with China as long as the two Michaels were being detained.”

Sep 27, 2021

In a bid to contain the fourth wave of COVID-19, New Brunswick reinstated a state of emergency Sept. 25. “The situation we currently face in New Brunswick is indeed serious, Premier Blain Higgs said.

Sep 27, 2021

Having promised a milder form of government than when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban evidently are wasting no time backtracking on their promises. In addition to reinstating bans on education for girls and employment for most women, they now are resorting to executions and public displays of bodies as a deterrent.

Sep 27, 2021

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said Sept. 26 that China initiated the dialogue which led to the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor after nearly three years. “Having felt for over 1,000 days incredible pressure from Canada [and] from our allies . . . I think the Chinese government decided that, you know, it was time to put this behind them and move on.”

Sep 27, 2021

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Sept. 26 that Iran has failed to fully honour the terms of a two-week-old deal to allow the UN agency to service equipment monitoring the country’s nuclear program.

Sep 25, 2021

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are back in Canada nearly three years after being detained in China on alleged espionage charges in apparent retaliation for Canada detaining Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S. A legal deal between Meng and the U.S. Sept. 25 set the stage for mutual repatriation. Kovrig and Spavor arrived in Calgary early today aboard an RCAF CC-144 Bombardier Challenger transport; Kovrick was flown on to Toronto.

Sep 24, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed late today that the two Canadians imprisoned by China since late 2019, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, are on their way home after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou left Vancouver for China immediately after her extradition hearing was stopped. China has rejected allegations that the espionage charges against the “Two Michaels” were retaliation for Meng’s detention at the request of the U.S.

Sep 24, 2021

Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive detained by Canada in 2018 at the request of the U.S., has reached a deferred prosecution agreement which clears the way for extradition proceedings in a B.C. court to end later today. Meng pleaded not guilty in a U.S. court to several fraud charges and her DPA runs until the end of next year, after which the U.S. would move to dismiss the charges.

Sep 24, 2021

The RCMP has charged Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin and its international division, as well as two former executives, with fraud and forgery offenses. The RCMP said Sept. 23 that the decision follows “a lengthy and comprehensive criminal.”

Sep 23, 2021

A Canadian resident allegedly involved in Nazi war crimes has died at the age of 97 even as the federal government was finalizing a 26-year effort to deport him. The government’s position was that Helmut Oberlander’s immigration was illegal because he had concealed his role as an interpreter for a Nazi death squad during Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union.

Sep 23, 2021

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is calling on the international community to forestall catastrophic fallout from last February’s military coup in Myanmar. “The national consequences are terrible and tragicthe regional consequences could also be profound,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement today. “The international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late.”

Sep 23, 2021

Daniel Foote, appointed in July as the U.S. envoy for Haiti, has quit over what he says is the “inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants.” In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the career diplomat excoriates the administration for deporting hundreds of migrants to the crisis-engulfed Caribbean nation from a border camp in recent days.

Sep 23, 2021

A $1.1 billion Federal Court of Canada lawsuit (Docket No. T-1201-18) against the RCMP for “systemic negligence” in cases of bullying and intimidation in the ranks has survived a Crown attempt to have it decertified. In her ruling earlier this week (Docket No. T-42-20), Federal Court of Appeal Justice Mary Gleason effectively upheld the claim that the RCMP’s internal processes for handling complaintsthe focus of a report last November by retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Michel Bastaracheare tainted because they rely on the chain of command.

Sep 22, 2021

Independent analysts are questioning the lack of a national security element in the incumbent Liberal government’s latest federal election campaign despite have committed significant resources to the issue during its previous mandate. While there evidently is new “enthusiasm” for reorganizing policies to address a range of evolving security-related issues, it’s noted that there is no permanent cabinet committee on national security. That issue essentially has been left to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians chaired since its inception in 2017 by re-elected veteran Ottawa Liberal MP David McGuinty.

Sep 22, 2021

The U.S. Justice Department and six state governments have filed an antitrust lawsuit against American Airlines and JetBlue. Filed Sept. 21, the suit says the “Northwest Alliance” deal approved in July 2020 by the Department of Transportation would lead to reduced service and increased fares in the northeastern U.S. market.

Sep 22, 2021

The Taliban have nominated their Doha-based spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, as Afghanistan’s UN ambassador to replace Ghulam Isaczai, who represented Afghanistan’s ousted government. The nomination has been referred to a nine-member credentials committee which includes U.S. and Russian representative.

Sep 22, 2021

Although election night results yielded a second but effectively unchanged Liberal minority government, a number of seats remain too close to call due to the delayed coungt of an estimated on million mailed ballots. As of late Sept. 21, 18 seats in the $610-million Sept. 20 election had yet to be called, but the Liberals were ahead in nine, the Conservatives lin two, the Bloc Quebecois in four and the NDP in three.

Sep 22, 2021

The Secret Service is the latest U.S. agency to have bought drones from a Chinese company the Defense Department considers a potential national security. Manufactured by Shenzhen-based DJI, they have become a global stable for recreational and other applications. It’s reported that efforts to block other U.S. law enforcement agencies and the military from similar procurements have become stuck in bureaucratic red tape.

Sep 21, 2021

A hoped-for meeting at UN headquarters between Iran and British, European, Chinese and Russian officials did not take place. EU policy chief Josep Borrell, who has coordinated the 2015 nuclear deal from with the U.S. withdrew in 2019, said the tentative meeting to resurrect the deal was “not in the agenda” for the overall UN session. “The important thing is not this ministerial meeting, but the will of all parties to resume negotiations,” he said Sept. 20 in anticipation of a meeting with an Iranian official today.

Sep 21, 2021

Prime Minister Justin’s push for a parliamentary majority he said was needed for his government to address ongoing issues effectively has failed. With mailed ballots still to be counted today, his party was on track to take 157 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons. This was well short of the 170 needed for a majority and essentially left the Liberals in the same position as when Trudeau called the election in mid-August.

Sep 20, 2021

The U.S. announced today that it is about to reopen to visitors from Britain, the European Union and other countries while maintaining a ban on non-essential land-border crossings from Canada and Mexico until at least Oct. 21. As of Nov. 1, most other visitors must be fully-vaccinated against COVID-19 and while they will not be required to quarantine, they will need a negative test.

Sep 20, 2021

United Russia, which is loyal to President Vladimir Putin, has won the latest election but with a slightly-reduced margin of victory, taking nearly half the vote compared with 54 per cent in 2016. However, there have been allegations of widespread fraud and one video has surfaced of a ballot box apparently being stuffed.

Sep 20, 2021

A group of Black Canadian government employees, alleging years of workplace discrimination, are involved in a proposed class-action lawsuit in which they are seeking some $2.5 billion in damages.

Sep 20, 2021

Four U.S. border-state senators have asked President Joe Biden to lift restrictions that have limited Canadians’ access since March 2020. Pressing for entry by Canadians vaccinated against COVID-19, they expressed concern about “economic and emotional strain in our communities” and question why land-crossings for non-essential travel have been in effect, Canadians still can fly to the U.S.

Sep 20, 2021

China has applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership which involves Canada, Australia and eight other countries. The application last week by Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, four years after the U.S. bailed out during the Trump administration, is seen as a bid to improve regional relationships

Sep 20, 2021

Transport Canada is disputing claims that a Chinese sailboat has been prevented from transiting the Northwest Passage, which has been off-limits to to foreign pleasure craft since March 2020 due to concern about introducing COVID-19 in remote communities. State-owned television had reported that Zhai Mo and his crew had been “illegally stopped” in Lancaster Sound near the maritime border with Greenland. TC says it is aware of the boat but “at this point it has not entered Canada's Arctic Waters.”

Sep 20, 2021

A suspect is in custody after eight persons were killed and 28 injured in a shooting at a university today in the Russian city of Perm, about 1,300km east of Moscow. The gunman, wounded by police, was reportedly using a long gun and there are reports that he had a legal permit.

Sep 17, 2021

A senior Chinese military officer is reported to have collaborated on virus research as recently as last year with one of two expatriate scientists fired in 2019 from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. Their dismissal remains a political issue for the Canadian government due to public health agency officials’ lack of cooperation with a parliamentary inquiry.

Sep 17, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a new defence pact between Australia, Britain and the U.S. has no implications for the Five Eyes alliance which also involves Canada and New Zealand despite the pact’s intelligence-sharing element. “We continue to be strong members of the Five Eyes and continue to share information and security approaches,” he said Sept. 16. “This is a deal for nuclear submarines, which Canada is not currently or any time soon in the market for.”

Sep 17, 2021

The Supreme Court of Canada has been asked to review a Federal Court of Appeal ruling on the constitutionality of Canada’s “safe third country agreement” with the U.S. as it applies to asylum seekers. It enables Canada to turn back applicants seeking to enter from the U.S. A lower-court judge ruled last year that the 2004 agreement was unconstitutional but that was overturned earlier this year by the FCA.

Sep 16, 2021

Accelerated outbreaks of COVID-19 have forced Albert Premier Jason Kenney to introduce sweeping new measures to combat its spread and to apologize for his government’s handling of the pandemic. “It is now clear that we were wrong,” he said Sept. 15, confirming that residents must provide proof of vaccination to enter many businesses and attend events.

Sep 16, 2021

The Taliban’s abrupt return to power in Afghanistan has left hundreds diplomats in limbo overseas, running out of money, worried about families back home and possibly seeking asylum. Several diplomatic staff, including those posted to Canada, have spoken of dysfunction and despair as they try to maintain operations.

Sep 16, 2021

A Sept. 15 reshuffle of the British cabinet saw Dominic Raab reassigned from the role of Foreign Secretary to the position of Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary. Criticized for his handling of the Afghanistan crisis, Raab is replaced by Liz Truss, who also remains Minister for Women and Equalities.

Sep 15, 2021

Three former U.S. intelligence and military personnel have agreed to pay more than $1.68 million to settle conspiracy charges arising from their work as civilian hackers for the United Arab Emirates. Documents filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia show they were accused of “knowingly and willfully” engaging in illegal activities. The trio must relinquish any security clearances and they have three years to pay up.

Sep 15, 2021

Effective Oct. 1, Italy will become the first European country to make a COVID-19 digital or paper “Green Pass” mandatory for public and private sector workers. Regional Affairs Minister Mariastella Gelmini said today that a Sept. 16 cabinet meeting would put the requirement in place despite friction within the coalition government.

Sep 15, 2021

The federal government has been asked by a coalition of legal professionals to suspend its extradition treaty with France. They fear that an Ottawa university professor, Hassan Diab, could face a terrorism trial based on questionable evidence about a 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue. He arrested by RCMP at France’s request in 2008 in what the critics call a continued miscarriage of justice.

Sep 14, 2021

Three former U.S. intelligence officers employed by the United Arab Emirates have admitted to hacking crimes and violating U.S. laws governing the transfer of military technology to foreign governments. Documents filed in a Washington court Sept. 13 set out a conspiracy to furnish the UAE with advanced technology and to assist Emirati operatives in countering perceived enemies of the U.S. ally.

Sep 14, 2021

Zheng Zeguang, China's ambassador to Britain since June, has been told he cannot visit Parliament until his country lifts sanctions against several members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The former vice-minister of foreign affair was due to attend a Sept. 15 all-party Commons reception; his embassy said the “despicable and cowardly” decision could harm both countries’ interests.

Sep 14, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine passports are now required for entrance to many non-essential British Columbia businesses such as restaurants, theatres and fitness centres. Visitors must have proof of at least one vaccination until Oct. 24 when double-vaccination will be required.

Sep 14, 2021

Centre-left opposition parties in Norway, apparently on the verge a parliamentary majority after a Sept. 13 general election, are expected to negotiate a coalition, with climate change and income disparity at the centre of talks. Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg has conceded defeat after eight years in power and Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Stoere intends to form a government with the support of centre-left parties which might mean policy compromises.

Sep 14, 2021

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on the weekend that member states have pledged more than US$1.1 billion to help address poverty and hunger in the Taliban-controlled country. He said during a conference, at which he had been seeking some $600 million, that it was too early to say exactly how much has been raised to help Afghans facing “perhaps their most perilous hour.”

Sep 14, 2021

The U.S. Coast Guard, struggling to recapitalize its ocean-going icebreaker fleet, has been given preliminary authorization to spend $350 million on a ship it evidently neither needs nor wants. The funding was approved by House of Representatives but specifically for an icebreaker designed for the Great Lakes.

Sep 14, 2021

Permission for Qantas Airlines and Japan Airlines to coordinate fares and flight schedules between their countries has been refused by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. ACCA Chairman Rod Sims says the regulator was not satisfied that the public benefits would outweigh harm to competition.

Sep 14, 2021

Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom says it has completed construction of its politically-contentious Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany despite strong opposition by Poland, Ukraine and the U.S., which fear political pressure from Moscow.

Sep 14, 2021

Iran amenable to more nuclear oversight? The International Atomic Energy Agency has struck a “constructive” deal to service equipment designed to monitor Iran’s nuclear program. The announcement effectively negated pressure from several western countries which could have killed the prospect of broader talks that could bring the U.S. back into the effort to keep Iran from extending its allegedly peaceful energy program into weapons development.

Sep 14, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has flatly denied that he wanted then Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to lie as the SNC-Lavalin international bribery affair was unravelling in 2019. Wilson-Raybould alleges in her new book that the PM “knew he wanted me to lie . . . to protect a Crown government acting badly; a political party; a leader who was not taking responsibility.”

Sep 12, 2021

A Chinese state-owned telecom company has been ordered by the federal government to divest itself, on national security grounds, of an interest in a Telus Communications subsidiary for the provision of wireless services. China Mobile International Canada, which admits it had not notified the government as required, has asked the Federal Court to set aside the decision, saying the government was partly motivated by “the current political socioeconomic climate and the general biases against Chinese state-owned companies.”

Sep 10, 2021

The United Nations confirmed Sept. 8 that its headquarters’ computer systems were hacked last April and there have been other hacks since then. The announcement came after several private cybersecurity experts warned that cybercriminals had been selling login access. The UN admitted early last year that its offices in Geneva and Vienna had been targeted by hacker in 2019.

Sep 09, 2021

Forty-three Canadians were among around 200 foreigners, including British, German, Hungarian and U.S. citizens, evacuated from Kabul today on a chartered Qatar Airways flight to Doha. It was the large-scale departure since U.S. forces completed their withdrawal at the end of August, leaving 1,250 Canadian citizens, permanent residents and family members stranded.

Sep 09, 2021

The only surviving member of a group accused of terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015 which left 130 dead, said at the opening of what is expected to be a mine-month trial, that he and his 19 fellow accused are “being treated like dogs.” The complaint by Salah Abdeslam, a confessed ISIS follower, provoked an outcry from victims’ families.

Sep 09, 2021

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark wants some migrants to be required to work for at least 37 hours a week if they want to continue receiving welfare benefits. She says the proposal, immediately criticized by some, is aimed at “non-Western” women in the hope of helping migrants to assimilate. “For too many years we have done a disservice to a lot of people by not demanding anything of them,” she says.

Sep 09, 2021

As expected, the Bank of Canada left its key interest rate target untouched at 0.25 per cent Sept. 8, citing concerns about the fourth COVID-19 wave. It had announced some months ago that it would stay the course until the economy is ready to handle an increase, which is not expected until the second half of 2022.

Sep 09, 2021

In a report with potentially catastrophic consequences for the global petroleum sector if governments acted on their report, a team of researchers says that if global warming is to be contained, nearly 60 per cent of the planet's remaining oil and natural gas and 90 per of coal reserves should be left in the ground by mid-century.

Sep 09, 2021

Toronto-based Canada Goose Holdings, whose garments have become a status symbol in many markets, has been fined the equivalent of $88,202 by a Chinese agency for allegedly misleading consumers about the materials it uses. It arises from the company’s advertising claims about the quality of down used in its parkas and jackets but the company blame a marketing error by an online partner.

Sep 09, 2021

Recent virtual and in-person protests during the federal election campaign should be alarming, political researchers say. They conclude that extreme right-wing conservatives, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists and fundamentalist Christians now have a common voice through the People’s Party of Canada.

Sep 08, 2021

Having previously called for a moratorium on COVID-19 boosters through to the end of this month, the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wants it extended until at least the end of the year. “I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world's poor should be satisfied with leftovers,” he said today. “Because manufacturers have prioritized or been legally obliged to fulfill bilateral deals with rich countries willing to pay top dollar, low-income countries have been deprived of the tools to protect their people.”

Sep 08, 2021

The B.C. government has launched a website through which residents can submit the necessary personal information to quality for a COVID-19 vaccination passport. Once the information is entered, users have access to a downloadable document which contains a QR code as proof of vaccination but those without web access can request a printed card.

Sep 08, 2021

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced today that all health and social services workers in the public and private sectors face suspension without pay if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15. “We cannot . . . accept that workers put vulnerable people at risk,” Dubé said, adding that hospital visitors must present their vaccine passports.

Sep 08, 2021

An attempt by a former U.S. Army private who leaked U.S. secrets about the wars in Afghanistan and whose 35-year prison sentence in 3013 was commuted after seven years is about to be reviewed by the Immigration and Refugee Board. Federal officials are preparing to argue that Chelsea Manning’s offence render her inadmissible even though she was permitted entry in 2018 for a brief visit.

Sep 08, 2021

As the Liberals and Conservatives trade shots during the federal election campaign about gun controls, Statistics Canada data show that criminal gun violence has risen over the last decade or so. However, the homicide rate due to firearms has actually declined slightly in recent years.

Sep 08, 2021

A network of safe houses in Kabul are still available for some 2,000 Afghan interpreters who worked with coalition forces but they do so with limited resources in increasingly uncertain circumstances. A lack of clarity about evacuation processes and inadequate funding are key weaknesses in the Canadian government’s effort add to the uncertainty.

Sep 08, 2021

Seeing foreign militant groups operating from Afghanistan as a threat to central Asia overall, India and Russia agreed today to closer cooperation on anti-terrorism. An Indian official said Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev and Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval urged the Taliban not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for those groups.

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