In the News

Jun 23, 2021

The House of Commons adjourned for a two-month summer recess today with party leaders trading shots which some see as a harbinger of a fall election. The adjournment followed approval of several key minority Liberal government bills which now go before the Senate. A fall election would come only halfway through the Liberals’ 2019 mandate but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the current parliamentary session has become toxically unproductive.

Jun 23, 2021

The government wants the Federal Court to prohibit disclosure of documents related to the dismissal of two researchers from the country’s Level 4 virology laboratory in Winnipeg. The Public Health Agency of Canada has refused to heed a Conservative demand for the documents, resulting in the agency’s president being formally censured by the House of Commons. In seeking the court’s cooperation, the government is challenging a long-held principle that the House has unfettered power to demand the documents regardless of security or privacy concerns.

Jun 23, 2021

The National Capital Commission reported today that the cost of restoring the Prime Minister’s official residence and five other culturally and historical properties would be $175 million over 10 years. The properties have deteriorated due to decades of underfunding by successive governments concerned about public perceptions. The estimate for the PM’s residence alone is $36.6 million.

Jun 23, 2021

Despite opposition by the government, a Federal Court judge gave a green light today to a class-action lawsuit which alleges that the RCMP in Northern Canada systematically brutalized indigenous peoples. Justice Glennys McVeigh explained that “the claims do not ask if an RCMP officer illegally assaulted a class member, but rather whether the operations of the RCMP create a system where illegal assaults happen.”

Jun 23, 2021

Members of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command will be conducting routine training in the vicinity of the Connaught Ranges, West of Ottawa, on 25 June 2021, between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

Jun 23, 2021

Thirty-three Internet domains linked to Iran’s state media have been “seized” by the U.S. Justice Department in what it said June 22 is an attempt counter Iranian propaganda and disinformation. Several domains already stated that their sites had been shut down in the U.S. but they remained operational in other countries.

Jun 23, 2021

The nearly five million Canadian children younger than 12 face a summer without at least one doze of COVID-19 vaccine, says an Ottawa-based lobby group. Health Canada recently approved one vaccine for older children but Children’s Healthcare Canada points out that “the pandemic is far from over for children.”

Jun 23, 2021

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced, effective 7 July 2021, that the Government is expanding mandatory firearms licence background checks to cover the lifetime of an applicant. The plan also reinstates the requirement to seek Authorization to Transport for restricted and prohibited firearms to most locations.

Jun 23, 2021

The RCMP is investigating possible “serious terrorism offences” by a Canadian citizen who became known as the “voice of ISIS” for narrating execution videos. An RCMP affidavit unsealed in court June 22 says it had reason to believe that Mohamed Khalifa from Toronto, in custody in Syria after being captured in 2019 by Kurdish forces, had committed four offences.

Jun 23, 2021

U.S. Army scientists working primarily on COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics are warning that that an even deadlier pandemic is a distinct possibility. “If we try to chase the viruses after they emerge, we’re always going to be behind,” says Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, head of the Walter Reed infectious diseases program. The approach being taken now involves nanoparticles through which ”we can place parts of different coronaviruses on to the same vaccine to educate the immune system about different coronaviruses all at the same time.”

Jun 23, 2021

Despite increased ransomware and other cyberattacks, U.S. companies evidently are reluctant to invest in appropriate protection until they are directly affected. Concerned about the potential for economic and strategic harm, the National Security Agency and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency say businesses need detailed resilience plans, including manual overrides when automated controls fail.

Jun 23, 2021

Efforts by the Canada Revenue Agency to counter tax evasion by the wealthy have resulted in no charges being laid. Responding to an opposition MP’s questions, the CRA says that more than 6,770 audits of wealthy Canadians over six years resulted in 44 criminal investigations but no charges were laid in the two cases sent for prosecution.

Jun 23, 2021

A Canadian national has been deported to the Netherlands from Taiwan to stand trial on charges that he oversaw a global methamphetamine cartel. Lawyers for Tse Chi Lop, who was arrested in Amsterdam in January and detained on a 2019 Australian warrant, say he was deported illegally as part of an international scheme to ensure a long sentence in the Dutch court.

Jun 23, 2021

More than $61 million worth of cocaine, crystal meth and marijuana were seized June 22 in what Toronto’s police service says is its largest “international drug takedown.” Twenty persons are facing charges after a six-month investigation in cooperation with other services, including the Ontario Provincial Police and Canada Border Services Agency.

Jun 22, 2021

The Transportation Safety Board reportedly withdrew its lead investigator from a fatal 2019 derailment in B.C. after Canadian Pacific Railway threatened to sue the investigator and the TSB over his suggestion that the RCMP should look into potential criminal negligence. When the Board refused to follow up, the investigator went public, prompting the legal threat and resulting in an apology by TSB Chair Kathy Fox.

Jun 22, 2021

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened the arrest of citizens who refuse COVID-19 vaccinations. “There is a crisis being faced in this country,” he said June 21. “If you don't want to get vaccinated, I'll have you arrested and I'll inject the vaccine in your butt.” With a population of some 108 million, the country has reported more than 1.3 million confirmed cases and at least 23,749 deaths.

Jun 22, 2021

There is an urgent need for the federal government to safeguard its reserves of rare earth minerals used in strategic and consumer applications, says a parliamentary committee. “This study should be a wake-up call,” it says. “It has been made abundantly clear that the overarching issue within this industry is the fact that the federal government has created a business environment where Canada will be unable to meet the growing global demand for critical minerals and, therefore, be reliant on other countries to meet our needs.”

Jun 21, 2021

Public Health Agency of Canada President Iain Stewart appeared before the bar just inside the House of Commons today, having been summoned in a rare procedural move for failing to turn over documents about the firing of two scientists at Canada’s highest security lab. Haines, who insists that he is prevented by law from releasing the documents, stood silently for some 30 minutes before being permitted to leave, leaving MPs to continue a political squabble over the issue.

Jun 21, 2021

An Ottawa-based workers-rights group, Above Ground, reports that Canadian measures designed to block imports of goods from countries which employ forced labour are often ineffectual. Moreover, unlike in the U.S., getting information about offending importers is frustrated by regulations.

Jun 21, 2021

Quarantine restrictions are to be eased, beginning, July 5 for fully-vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents returning to Canada as long as they test negative for COVID-19. Announcing the relaxation today, the government said that with few exceptions, vaccinated foreigners still would be quarantined.

Jun 21, 2021

The NATO Communication and Information Agency plans to procure new cyber defence systems as part of a sweeping upgrade. Starting in early 2022 and worth a projected €27 billion to contractors, the project includes new firewalls, penetration testing tools, and other defensive technologies.

Jun 21, 2021

Deaths in Brazil attributed to COVID-19 topped 500,000 on the weekend, second only to more than 601,000 in the U.S., as experts warned that the situation will continue to deteriorate due to delayed vaccinations and the government’s refusal to back social distancing measures. President Jair Bolsonaro has insisted from the outset that concerns were overblown.

Jun 21, 2021

Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line veteran of Iran’s judiciary, has been elected as the country’s next president, effective in August when the moderate leader Hassan Rouhani’s term expires. Raisi, who oversaw the abduction and secret execution of political prisoners, also is seen as a likely successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Jun 21, 2021

When Donald Trump arbitrarily withdrew the U.S. from a multinational nuclear accord with Iran in 2018 and imposed crushing economic sanctions, there were suggestions that it would backfire, entrenching conservative hard-liners in Tehran for years to come. Their concerns evidently were justified.

Jun 21, 2021

Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is calling on the U.S. and its allies to “wake up” to the threat still posed by Iran even as talks continue about reviving a nuclear agreement. He says Iran’s “regime of brutal hangmen” is determined to have nuclear weapons despite repeated denials out of Tehran.

Jun 21, 2021

Madam Justice Rosalie Abella, retiring from the Supreme Court of Canada at the mandatory age of 75, has been considered as the country’s foremost activist judge. While not the first jurist to so categorized, she definitely has pushed the court-knows-best doctrine when it comes to shaping social policy in an era when legislatures are widely seen as mishandling that portfolio.

Jun 18, 2021

More than 20 countries, with Canada in the forefront, are preparing to demand “meaningful and unfettered access” to China to investigate “credible reports” of widespread human rights violations against a Muslim minority in Xinjiang province. They are expected to deliver their demand June 21 to the UN Human Rights Council headquarters in Geneva.

Jun 18, 2021

Canada’s border with the U.S. will remain closed to non-essential travel until July 21and restrictions on visitors from other countries also are being extended by an additional month. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair used social media today to confirm the government’s decision, adding that more details would be forthcoming June 21 on easing restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadians and others currently unable to return to or visit Canada.

Jun 18, 2021

A federal government push to regulate online services such as Netflix in much the same way it oversees conventional broadcasters is encountering stiff resistance in the Senate. Most feel that the government’s draft legislation, Bill C10, introduced last November, requires more detailed study. Conservative Leo Housakos referring to conversations with others, says “there doesn’t seem to be any momentum to . . . rubber-stamp this.”

Jun 18, 2021

A House of Commons committee is suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic has disclosed flaws in the unemployment insurance system, saying in a June 17 report that EI “no longer reflects the realities of today's labour market.” The committee chairman says that when the pandemic erupted, “the system didn't have a chance of covering off the people that were thrown out of work through no fault of their own.”

Jun 18, 2021

As the RCMP is pressed to be more sensitive to racial issues and other, a House of Commons committee says the government should consider ending contract policing by the RCMP. “A transformative national effort is required to ensure that all . . . racialized people . . . are not subject to the discrimination and injustice that is inherent in the system,” the committee says in a June 17 report.

Jun 18, 2021

The World Economic Forum says putting a price on carbon-based fuels is an effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and global pollution. Moreover, it says carbon taxation can generate significant revenues which then can be used to address the economic harm from fossil fuels. It cites, among others, British Columbia’s implementation of a tax in 2008 as “a textbook example” of how to tackle the issue.

Jun 18, 2021

Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot, now retired, who gained global fame for safely ditching his disabled Airbus A320 in New York’s Hudson River after it was disabled by bird strikes in 2019, has been chosen by President Joe Biden as the next U.S. ambassador to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal.

Jun 18, 2021

The federal government is expected to begin issuing COVID-19 vaccination verification documents next month. The initial focus would be on visitors and the app, ArriveCan, evidently will enable travellers to take a photo or upload a shot of their vaccination documentation before going through customs.

Jun 18, 2021

The UN General Assembly today appointed António Guterres to a second five-year term as Secretary General, effective next January. The Security Council had already recommended reappointment of the former Portugese prime minister.

Jun 17, 2021

An all-party House of Commons committee says the government should give more weight to national security than costs of information technology and security hardware procurements. In its report to Parliament, the committee expressed concerns about Chinese state-owned enterprises and recommended more rigorous screening of contractors who install and maintain equipment in sensitive facilities such as embassies.

Jun 17, 2021

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is pulling his MPs out of the National Intelligence and Security Committee, saying it has been used to cover up sensitive documents about the National Microbiology Laboratory. The Conservatives have been pressing the government for weeks for details about the removal of two Chinese employees from the Winnipeg facility and its relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Jun 17, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has nominated an Ontario appellate court judge, Mahmud Jamal, to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella. The Kenyan-born judge was educated at Christian schools but raised at home as a Muslim and family immigrated to Canada in 1981. A veteran litigator before his appointment to the Ontario court two years ago, he also was involved in dozens of appeals heard by the SCOC.

Jun 17, 2021

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say in a joint report that Canada detains thousands of asylum seekers every year in often abusive conditions where people of colour appear to be held for longer periods. Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary-General of AI Canada, says the system contrasts starkly with the country’s rich diversity and values of equality and justice.

Jun 17, 2021

A federal government bill designed to bring Canadian law into line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples now needs only Royal Assent to take effect. Bill C-15 had been resisted by Conservatives in the House of Commons and Senate who shared the concerns of six provincial premiers about the implications for their jurisdictions.

Jun 17, 2021

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, an Inuit MP first elected to the House of Commons in 2019, says she does not plan to run again due to the “intimidating” behaviour of Parliamentary Protective Service personnel. “I've had security jog after me down hallways, nearly put their hands on me and racial profile me,” the New Democratic Party MP said this week when telling the House about her decision. The PPS responded with a statement that it is committed to its security role while ensuring “a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment” in the parliamentary precinct.

Jun 17, 2021

Two Vancouver residents who sneaked into a small Yukon community, flouting quarantine and posing as local motel workers to get early COVID-19 vaccinations have been fined a total of $2,300 after pleading guilty. “There was harm, but the harm wasn't anyone catching COVID,” Territorial Court Judge Michael Cozens said in sentencing Rod and Ekaterina Baker. “It was certainly psychological.”

Jun 17, 2021

North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un says his counry is facing food shortages due to crop losses from last year’s typhoons and a drop in trade with China possibly due to North Korea’s border closures due to COVID-19. “The people's food situation is now getting tense,” he disclosed at this week’s meeting of his ruling Workers' Party central committee in Pyongyang.

Jun 17, 2021

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander Novak, said today that a European Union plan to impose carbon emissions costs on imports is a potential breach of global trading rules and threat to energy security. “Artificial restrictive measures of the traditional fuel and energy sectors may reduce the profitability and investment attractiveness of the sector, and as the result, the threat to the safety of energy supplies will emerge,” the former energy minister added.

Jun 17, 2021

U.S. and Russian officials agreed June 16 to open the lines of communication about their nuclear weapons stockpiles in the hope of reducing the risk of an accident. U.S. President Joe says the dialogue on the sidelines of the recent NATO Summit is “diplomatic-speak for getting our military experts and our diplomats together to work on a mechanism that can lead to the control of new and dangerous and sophisticated weapons that are coming on the scene now that reduce the times of response, that raise the prospects of accidental war.”

Jun 17, 2021

China’s mission to the European Union has denounced as “slander” a NATO declaration that it is a “constant security challenge.” Instead, the mission states, the alliance’s position is “a misjudgment of the international situation and its own role, and a continuation of the Cold War mentality.”

Jun 17, 2021

Cihan Erdal, a Canadian permanent resident and PhD student at Carleton University in Ottawa, was released from a Turkish prison this week after nearly nine months of incarceration. Included in a mass arrest in September of dozens of persons who had been accused of anti-government protest six years ago, he still must report to police twice weekly and cannot leave Turkey without official permission.

Jun 17, 2021

The U.S. Department of Transportation is trying to fine Air Canada $25.5 million for failing to give thousands of customers “timely refunds” for bookings on cross-border flights cancelled due to COVID-19.

Jun 17, 2021

Leftist candidate Pedro Castillo won just over 50 per cent of the most votes in a close presidential run-off election, 44,000 more than right-wing challenger Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of a former president. However, a winner cannot be declared until electoral officials deal with legal protests by Fujimori, who has made unsubstantiated claims about fraud.

Jun 15, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin ended their first in-person meeting today with broad claims of good will but clearly were deeply divided on a range of issues. Putin said their talks “took place in a constructive spirit” while Biden called the overall tone “positive.” That said, Putin denied his country has been involved in cyberattacks against the U.S., insisting that the U.S. is the main offender.

Jun 15, 2021

The U.S. and the European Union agreed today to a truce in a 17-year trade spat over government support for Boeing and Airbus, removing billions of dollars in taxes on an array of non-aerospace products for an initial five years. Both companies welcomed the agreement; Airbus said it would be “the basis to create a level-playing field.”

Jun 14, 2021

Only weeks before the European Union is expected to impose globally-unprecedented carbon dioxide emissions costs on some imports, including ferrous metals, aluminum and fertilizers, Canada and the other G7 countries agreed June 13 to work together to address the risk that some countries’ climate policies could compel companies to relocate. “We need to address carbon leakage to create (a) global level playing field,” European Council President Charles Michel explained.

Jun 14, 2021

Terror charges have been laid against the man accused of intentionally driving into a Muslim family walking on a London, Ontario sidewalk. Grandmother, parents, and teen were killed, and a younger child sent to hospital with serious injuries. Police have alleged that the attack on the evening of June 6, was a planned and premeditated act against Muslims.

Jun 13, 2021

Nicaraguan police arrested and jailed five prominent opponents of President Daniel Ortega over the weekend, including former allies who denounced the detentions as an assault on democracy. The arrests, following on the heels of earlier detections, come as Ortega seeks to extend his 14 years as president in an election set for November.

Jun 13, 2021

After 12 years as the dominant force in Israeli politics, Benjamin Netanyahu has been replaced as Prime Minister by Naftali Bennett, a political centrist chosen from an alliance of eight parties who found common cause in a diverse political spectrum for at least the time being. The new government was approved today by a vote of 60 to 59 in the Knesset.

Jun 13, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that he and U.S. President Joe Biden have discussed lifting pandemic-related border restrictions but that no real breakthrough was imminent. The two were in Cornwall, England, for the latest G7 Summit.

Jun 13, 2021

Police evacuated residents from several homes in a Jerusalem suburb on Sunday after a fire broke out in the area. Last week, several large wildfires erupted on the outskirts of Jerusalem and the West Bank, leading to the temporary evacuation of some residents and numerous road closures. Reports at the time said authorities suspected the fires may have been deliberate acts of arson.

Jun 12, 2021

A defamation lawsuit has been filed against Ottawa Life Magazine, its publisher and a Carleton University criminologist by Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly, who is seeking $150,000 in damages. An article by the criminologist, Darryl Davies, contains unsubstantiated claims of corruption and calls the Chief incompetent and a liar. The defendants are claiming the right to free expression.

Jun 12, 2021

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was ticketed and arrested by RCMP June 11 for violating Manitoba public health orders designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. He was released several hours later after a bail hearing and before a rally was scheduled on his “Mad Max Manitoba Tour.”

Jun 11, 2021

The three-member Green Party caucus in the House of Commons was reduced by one member June 10 when New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin, first elected in 2019, crossed the floor to join the Liberals. Having openly challenged Green Leader Annamie Paul on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Atwin explained that she fundamentally had arrived at a “crossroads” with the party.

Jun 11, 2021

Myanmar's military authorities have laid corruption charges against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, specifically accusing her of accepting bribes. This is atop earlier charges related to alleged illegal importation of half a dozen handheld radios and inciting unrest. The former state counsellor was arrested during a February coup.

Jun 10, 2021

Responding to the deaths of two dogs on Wednesday and one person being hospitalized after being in Grand Lake, the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Climate Change is testing water samples taken from Grand Lake and Fish Lake, near the Wellington and Enfield areas, for two types of toxins produced by blue-green algae.

Jun 10, 2021

The family of a mentally-ill Ontario man convicted for agreeing to a terrorism plot in 2015 while a teenager say he shouldn't be in a Colorado “supermax” prison. They want Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy repatriated for the rest of his 40-year sentence to receive psychiatric help. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and addiction issues, he was 17 and living with his parents when he encountered an FBI agent posing as a terrorist and agreed to help plot attacks which were never carried out.

Jun 10, 2021

The RCMP's use of U.S. facial recognition software “to search through massive repositories of Canadians who are innocent of any suspicion of crime presents a serious violation of privacy,” says Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien. In a report to Parliament today, he said that by using third-party software, the RCMP violated the Privacy Act rule that no personal information can be collected by a government institution “unless it relates directly to an operating program or activity.”

Jun 10, 2021

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians chaired by Ottawa Liberal MP David McGuinty is reviewing Public Health Agency of Canada documents about the case of two Chinese scientists who were fired from the Natiional Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg two years ago amid a shroud of secrecy. Two national security experts are speculating about alleged espionage but the Chinese foreign ministry says “normal” scientific cooperation with Canada “should not be politicized.”

Jun 10, 2021

An emergency alert from the Nova Scotia system was sent out just before 1am this morning. “There is an unknown issue with the water in Grand Lake that has caused animals to die and has sent one citizen to hospital,” it said. “All consumption is banned […] Do not go in the water by foot or by boat at anytime, unless this order is rescinded.”

Jun 10, 2021

As early as next month, returning fully-vaccinated Canadians might not not be subject to self-isolation or quarantine requirements. Health Minister Patty Hajdu said June 9 that this first step in a “phased” easing of federal COVID-19 border measures depends on talks with the provinces and territories as well as case counts and vaccination rates. “These metrics are very important factors as we move towards implementing the changes on the border that we hope to have in place in early July,” she said.

Jun 09, 2021

Cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Alberta was counting on to get crude oil to southern U.S. refineries, will cost the province approximately $1.3 billion, it was disclosed today. “We invested in Keystone XL because of the long-term economic benefits it would have provided Albertans and Canadians,” said Energy Minister Sonya Savage in a news release. The government agreed last year to a $1.5 equity position in the project as well as billions more in loan guarantees.

Jun 09, 2021

China cannot be compelled to provide more data on the origins of COVID-19, a senior World Health Organization official has pointed out. Rather, says Mike Ryan, the Irish epidemiologist who oversees the WHO Health Emergency Program, “we fully expect cooperation, input and support of all of our member states in that endeavour.”

Jun 09, 2021

The U.S. is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, Britain and the European Union to determine how best to restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions. A White House official says decisions on reopening borders “will be fully guided by the objective analysis and recommendations by public health and medical experts.”

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