In the News

Jul 21, 2021

Dozens of 60 diplomatic appointments by the Democratic administration in Washington are being held up by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Prompting angry exchanges within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Cruz is trying to press the administration to impose sanctions against Russia over its Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Europe.

Jul 20, 2021

The federal government's plan to reopen the border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens next month could be complicated by the threat of strike action. This week, more than 8,500 Canada Border Services Agency officers (who have been without a contract since June 2018) are voting on whether they're willing to walk out. A strike could cause massive delays for those travelling by air and land.

Jul 20, 2021

The federal government's plan to reopen the border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens next month could be complicated by the threat of strike action. This week, more than 8,500 Canada Border Services Agency officers (who have been without a contract since June 2018) are voting on whether they're willing to walk out. A strike could cause massive delays for those travelling by air and land.

Jul 20, 2021

With more than 300 wildfires and growing concerns about deteriorating weather, the B.C. government announced today that a state of emergency would go into effect at midnight. Initially for 14 days, it empowers the to, among other things, order evacuations and to prohibit travel. The Department of National Defence confirmed preparations to support civilian firefighters.

Jul 20, 2021

A water bomber tackling a forest fire in Manitoba had to turn back, leaving ground crews in peril, when a drone was flown into its airspace on the weekend. “That could have turned into something way worse,” a Manitoba Wildfire Service official said. The drone operator, who was liable for charges, could not be identified.

Jul 20, 2021

Canada has joined the U.S. and other countries in blaming China for a massive hack of the Microsoft Exchange email server software and accusing it of working with criminal hackers in ransomware attacks and other cyber operations. “This activity put several thousand Canadian entities at risk, a risk that persists in some cases even when patches from Microsoft have been applied,” the government said in a statement.

Jul 20, 2021

A week before Mary Simon is due to be sworn in July 26 as Governor General, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages says it will investigate the nominating process after receiving hundreds of complaints about her inability to speak French. Simon, a Quebec Inuk who speaks English and Inuktituk and has promised to become official bilingual, did not have the opportunity to learn French as a child.

Jul 20, 2021

Appeals filed by the defence and the prosecution in the case of a Toronto police officer convicted of assaulting a black man in 2016 have both been dismissed by an Ontario court. The defence had sought to overturn the assault conviction while the prosecution had appealed the acquittal of the office and his brother on related changes.

Jul 20, 2021

The UN has been advised by Canada that it plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 per cent from 2005 levels by the end of this decade. Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson also has told his provincial counterparts he plans to amend the federal carbon-price benchmark to eliminate some discrepancies and exemptions that emerged as provinces implemented their own policies.

Jul 20, 2021

The U.S. has been asked by Turkish Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for financial, logistical and diplomatic support for Turkish troops to operate Kabul airport once other foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan. The Taliban has warned Turkey against the plan.

Jul 19, 2021

The Communications Security Establishment says that Canadians are “very likely to encounter some form of foreign cyber interference” before and during the next federal election. “We assess that an increasing number of threat actors have the cyber tools, the organizational capacity, and a sufficiently advanced understanding of Canada's political landscape to direct cyber activity against future Canadian federal elections,” it says in a new threat assessment.

Jul 19, 2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Delta variant of COVID-19 is now the dominant global strain. “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” a CDC official said, explaining that in the U.S., 97 per cent of people being hospitalized in the U.s. are unvaccinated.

Jul 19, 2021

Allison Crimmins, who has worked on climate issues for the past decade at the Environmental Protection Agency, has been put in charge of the next major U.S. climate assessment required by law every four years. Her appointment and others are seen as the end of turbulence in the Global Change Research Program office which coordinates the efforts of 13 departments and agencies.

Jul 19, 2021

A $10-billion plant to liquefy natural gas in northern B.C., including a pipeline to tidewater for export, is being backed by the Nisga'a Nation, whose territory is north of Prince Rupert near the Alaska border. It has joined two corporations, Rockies LNG Partners and Texas-based Western LNG, committing to net-zero carbon emissions within three years of startup.

Jul 19, 2021

Significant parts of the Amazon, the world's largest tropical forest, have begun emitting more carbon dioxide that they absorb, according to a team of researchers led by a scientist from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research assessing the impact of deforestation. Among other things, their report notes that regional temperatures rose by three times the global average during the hottest months. “This is . . . accelerating climate change,” says lead author Luciana Gatti.

Jul 19, 2021

Several days after his Alberta counterpart dismissed the notion of COVID-19 passports, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has adopted a similar stance. “We're not gonna do it,” Ford said. “We're not gonna have a split society.” He acknowledged that people get proof of vaccination, bug said that can be easily forged.

Jul 19, 2021

Fully-vaccinated visitors from the U.S. will be permitted to enter Canada Aug. 9 with visigtors from other countries to follow Sept. 7. Federal officials also announced today that unvaccinated children younger than 12 also will be permitted to enter from the U.S. Aug. 9 and can move around with their parents subject to provincial and local public health measures.

Jul 19, 2021

U.S. responds to Chinese cyberattacks Measures designed to expose and disrupt China’s government-sponsored cybercrimes have been confirmed by the U.S. in collaboration with its allies. U.S. officials say the international effort flows from President Joe Biden’s meeting last month with G7 and NATO leaders. China’s Ministry of State Security is identified as a key player and there are suggestions the latest development could lead to further sanctions.

Jul 19, 2021

The European Court of Justice has ruled that companies in the European Union may ban Muslim employees from wearing a hijab under certain conditions. Ruling in two cases brought by women in Germany who were suspended, the court said “prohibition . . . may be justified by the employer’s need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes.” However, it also said national courts within the EU may consider social context in their own countries.

Jul 19, 2021

Freddy Guevara, a close ally of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, has been charged with terrorism and treason by President Nicolás Maduro’s left-wing administration, which also accuses him of having ties to “extremist groups” and foreign governments. Guaidó is seen by most western governments as the legitimate leader but Maduro has Russian and Chinese support.

Jul 19, 2021

A former regimental medical office in an artillery battalion who now practises on Vancouver Island points out that the foes Canada fights are increasingly non-military. Dr. Kevin Patterson suggests that the Canadian Armed Forces should build on its reputation for addressing domestic challenges.

Jul 15, 2021

A national Muslim organization is calling the July 14 vandalization of a mosque in Cambridge, Ont., an “act of hate.” The fact that the Baitul Kareem Mosque was attacked in broad daylight is particularly troubling for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada. “Our mosques have always served as symbols of peace in the community,” says the organization’s president, Lal Khan Malik. “It is hurtful for us to see our mosque attacked and vandalized in this fashion.”

Jul 15, 2021

In an apparent response to anti-government protests, Cuba has temporarily lifted restrictions on travelers bringing food, medicines and hygiene products into the country. Thousands took to the streets last weekend to protest chronic shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties and the government's handling of COVID-19 which has devastated the country's tourism industry.

Jul 15, 2021

The European Commission’s new climate change initiative has drawn fire from Australia, one of the world’s largest resource exporters, which is particularly upset by a proposed surtax on carbon-intense imports such as steel and cement. “The last thing the world now needs is extra protectionist policies,” says Trade Minister Dan Tehan. Even though only four per cent of Australia’s exports go to Europe, he says the commission’s plan could set the stage for increased costs to export to major Asian markets.

Jul 15, 2021

The European Commission has set out a plan for achieving a carbon-neutral economy by mid-century, kicking off what is expected to be intense nationalistic negotiations between its 27 member states, their industries and the European parliament. It calls for, among other things, a shift away from fossil fuels by the end of this decade and tariffs on imports from countries with less ambitious climate agendas.

Jul 15, 2021

In a July 14 “transparency report,” Twitter says last year saw a significant uptick in governments’ demands to take down critical content posted by journalists and new organizations. It received 361 legal demands to remove 199 posters’ content in the second half of 2020, up 26 percent from the first half. India topped the list, followed by Turkey Pakistan and Russia.

Jul 15, 2021

Spain's government has suffered a legal setback in its attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. The country’s highest court did not question the need for last spring’s national lockdown but says in a 6-5 decision that the government used the wrong mechanism. The Constitutional Court was ruling on a lawsuit by Spain’s far-right Vox party.

Jul 15, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic surged around the world, authoritarian regimes evidently have been using it as a smokescreen to attack public activities or opponents. In one case, a Cambodian-American human rights lawyer indicted for treason in his ostensibly democratic homeland, where the prime minister has been in power for more than three decades, calls the coronavirus “a dictator’s dream.” Human Rights Watch says Cambodia uses it as a cover for jailing opponents without due process.

Jul 15, 2021

Boeing has acknowledged a production-line problem on its 787 Dreamliner, already in service internationally and with a waiting list of customers. The company said some fuselages had not been assembled precisely enough, prompting questions about the inspection and verification processes. Working with government regulators, it says it has a remedy and that the issue “poses no immediate threat to flight safety.”

Jul 15, 2021

Cybersecurity experts tracking the activities of REvil, a ransomeware gang based in Russia or Eastern Europe which has targeted western businesses, say it has disappeared from the Internet. “All REvil sites are down, including the payment sites and data leak site,” one observer said in social media. The development comes after U.S. President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin that would be “consequences” if the problem wasn’t addressed.

Jul 15, 2021

A lawyer’s decision to hire a private investigator to track a Manitoba judge's personal behaviour while he hears a constitutional challenge to COVID-19 rules has resulted in another lawyer filing a complaint. “It's probably the most egregious case of professional misconduct that I've heard of in quite some time,” says Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman, calling for “sanction in the strongest possible terms to make it clear that it's completely and utterly unacceptable.”

Jul 15, 2021

The U.S. business community says partisan squabbling which is frustrating efforts to update immigration laws are contributing to a worrisome brain-drain. They aired their concerns at a congressional hearing, focusing mainly on the loss high-technology workers to Canada. “We're stuck in a time warp,” California Republican Representative Zoe Logren agreed. “It's like driving around with a 30-year-old paper map while others easily navigate the road with turn-by-turn directions from their smartphones.”

Jul 15, 2021

A Taliban spokesman has said that the Islamic insurgency retaking Afghanistan sees China as a “welcome friend” despite its treatment of its Uigher Muslim minority. “We care about the oppression of Muslims, the spokesman said. “What we are not going to do is interfere in China's internal affairs.” Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry has confirmed talks with Pakistan about extending the two countries’ economic corridor to Afghanistan.

Jul 15, 2021

U.S. COVID-19 infection rates have more than doubled in the past two weeks with the advent of the Delta variant. Coupled with stalled vaccination rates, it could justify keeping the Canadian border closed to most visitors after July 21 despite pressure from several business sectors. With a week to go, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reiterated that the government remains “cautious” about reopening the border.

Jul 14, 2021

An Ontario teenager is worried that a prank involving a $6.49 Nerf gun could hinder his chances of a Canadian Armed Forces career. He and a friend were arrested and charged with assault with a weapon and criminal harassment after they had driven around a nearby community, firing rubber darts at residents.

Jul 14, 2021

Canada's Department of National Defence is taking steps to "green" defence infrastructure and reduce its carbon footprint while providing military personnel with sustainable and efficient facilities in which to work and train.

Jul 14, 2021

A Utah company has received a “cease and desist” letter for modifying a Glock pistol to look like it was built from Lego. The Danish manufacturer of the globally-popular building blocks was alerted by the heard of a firearms safety group. Culper Precision says its modification was supposed to “highlight the pure enjoyment of the shooting sports.” It’s illegal in the U.S. to produce realistic toy guns but there’s no explicit ban on doing the opposite.

Jul 14, 2021

A European Union plan to phase out sales of new cars with internal combustion engines by 2035 is facing pushback from France, which wants a more flexible approach and an extension for hybrid vehicles. French President Emmanuel recently met with company and union representatives to discuss an eventual transition to electric vehicles.

Jul 14, 2021

As the economic outlook improves, the Bank of Canada reduces emergency stimulus. As inflation continues to run above target, prices are projected to rise more than 3% in 2021 before easing back toward 2% in 2022 – yet risks are skewed to the upside.

Jul 14, 2021

Mounting concern about Chinese influence The European Union’s foreign ministers are pressing for more global linkages as a potential counter to China's Belt and Road Initiative to link Asia with Europe. “We must offer alternatives,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass told reporters July 12. “It is important that the European Union . . . coordinates them very closely with the United States.”

Jul 14, 2021

Responding to pressure from the U.S., the European Commission is delaying the planned introduction of a tax on digital services. Some European officials also are questioning the proposed levy.

Jul 14, 2021

North Korea’s foreign ministry is promoting a claim that offers of aid, including coronavirus vaccines, are a part of a plot to influence other governments. It has posted an ostensibly independent commentary that the offer “vividly reveals that the American ulterior intention of linking ‘humanitarian assistance’ with ‘human rights issue’ is to legitimise their pressure on the sovereign states and achieve their sinister political scheme.”

Jul 14, 2021

President Joe Biden has signed off on an executive order his administration says is aimed at “promoting competition” in the U.S. economy by curbing “the trend of corporate consolidation.” It calls on the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to enforce antitrust law “vigorously” and for agencies to “challenge prior bad mergers.”

Jul 13, 2021

Faced with pushback from some provinces, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is developing an “internationally accepted proof of vaccination” for international travel, it’s up to the provinces to handle travel within Canada. “Different provinces will be doing different things.”

Jul 13, 2021

The pace of science and technology breakthroughs are so dramatically redesigning the global security outlook that an Australian think-tank is urging the country’s military, defence industry and universities to pool their resources. It envisages the equivalent of the U.S., Defence Applied Research Projects Agency, calling it “a significant opportunity” to cooperation within the Five Eyes nations.

Jul 13, 2021

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has flatly rejected suggestions that his province follow other provinces’ lead on introducing documents showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination. “We will not facilitate or accept vaccine passports,” he said July 12. “I believe they would in principle contravene the Health Information Act and also possibly the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

Jul 13, 2021

Ruling on a reference by Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien (Docket T-1779-18), Federal Court Associate Chief Justice Jocelyne Gagné said the results of Google searches should be subject to privacy legislation. Effectively a ruling on how companies handle personal information, it is seen as a partial victory for individuals seeking to be “forgotten” on social media. It originated from a man’s complaint that search results had yielded damagingly inaccurate information about him. Google had argued privacy law did not apply because its search engine was not a “commercial activity.”

Jul 12, 2021

A Manitoba judge hearing a case brought by groups opposed to COVID-19 restrictions was followed by a private investigator looking for potential breaches of those limits by the judge. The lawyer representing several rural churches and individuals, admitted in court July 12 that he had hired the investigator but insisted it was not an attempt to influence the judge’s decision.

Jul 12, 2021

University researchers seeking federal government grants are now required to complete a security risk assessment and work with national security agencies and the federal government in a bid to prevent foreign interests from acquiring Canadian intellectual property. The decision, initially applicable to the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council but expected to be broadened, was announced today by Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne.

Jul 12, 2021

Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways have been ordered by the federal government to step up their fire prevention efforts as wildfires continue to scorch British Columbia. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said July 11 that the companies must ensure a 60-minute response time to any fires detected along their rights-of-way.

Jul 12, 2021

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper has suggested that Iran's incoming president, Ebrahim Raisi, should be treated as an international pariah for his record of human rights abuses. “Shame on any government in the world that would sit down and try to negotiate anything with an administration led by Ebrahim Raisi,” Harper said in a speech to a July 10 virtual Free Iran World Summit.

Jul 12, 2021

After another major international ransomware attack by Russian hackers, U.S. President Joe Biden has threatened President Vladimir Putin with unspecified “consequences” if he fails to intervene. “I made it very clear to him that the United States expects when a ransomware operation is coming from his soil, even though it's not, not sponsored by the state, we expect them to act if we give them enough information,” Biden said July 9.

Jul 09, 2021

A 13-member U.S. Marine Corps diplomatic protection unit has been sent to the embassy in Eswatini, the small southern African country previously called Swaziland. They were deployed as government security forces cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators in increasingly violent confrontations.

Jul 09, 2021

Members of a Taliban delegation visiting Moscow said today that the “Islamic emirates” control 85 per cent of Afghanistan’s territory and about 250 of the country’s 398 districts. One also said the government in Kabul controls only the administrative centres.

Jul 09, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said July 8 that it will be “quite a while” before Canada welcomes any tourists who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. “We need to continue to ensure that the safety of Canadians, of all the sacrifices that so many people have made over the past many, many months, are not for nothing,” he said, addressing presume from the tourism industry to reopen borders.

Jul 09, 2021

Five rounds of voting over two days at a virtual meeting of the Assembly of First Nations has given the organization its first female national chief. RoseAnne Archibald, a former Ontario regional chief, eventually prevailed when her main rival conceded. bowed out. A member of the Taykwa Tagamou Nation in northern Ontario, she was the first woman and youngest chief of the TTN in 1990 at the age of 23.

Jul 09, 2021

Haitian police say that a group of foreign mercenaries, including retired Colombian soldiers and a couple of Haitian-Americans, were among those responsible for assassination of President Jovenel Moïse the day before. Seventeen have been arrested, three were killed and a number of others were still at large.

Jul 09, 2021

Even if a significant number of Canadian become fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, health officials now are considering the possibility that booster shots will be needed as more aggressive variants emerge. There’s general consensus that the current two-shot regime offers excellent protection but experts have questions about the duration of that protection.

Jul 08, 2021

Confirmation that Iran has begun producing enriched uranium, insisting it ys for reactor fuel research, is worrying the U.S. and some European countries because of the potential for nuclear weapons development. Iran resumed its nuclear metallurgy program after the former U.S. administration arbitrarily withdrew from an international accord which the European partners want to revive.

Jul 08, 2021

A report that the U.S. is revoking three times as many NEXUS cards as Canada has prompted former deputy prime minister John Manley, who negotiated the trusted traveller program, to call for a review of how they are managed. “It's stunning that the numbers are as great as they are and the exercise of the authority to cancel is being done in a manner that seems somewhat capricious and unjustified,”, he said July 7. “I think it would be only with pressure from Canada that the U.S. would change their procedures.”

Jul 08, 2021

The Japanese-owned container ship which blocked the Suez Canal in March was permitted to leave today after its owners and insurers had signed a compensation agreement with Egypt. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Jul 08, 2021

Volkswagen and BMW were respectively fined €502 million and €373 million today by the European Commission for colluding to curb the use of emissions-cleaning technology the companies developed a decade ago. “This is a first,” European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. “We have never had a cartel whose purpose was to restrict the use of novel technology.”

Jul 08, 2021

New data released July 7 by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. indicate that COVID-19 has killed more than four million persons worldwide. The U.S. tops the list at 606,000 followed by Brazil and India. The daily count over the past week has average 7.900.

Jul 08, 2021

Mary Simon, the Quebec Inuk leader and seasoned diplomat nominated as the next Governor General, is vigorously defending herself against predictable criticism that she doesn’t speak French. “Based on my experience growing up in Quebec, I was denied the chance to learn French during my time in the federal government day schools,” she says. Fluent in Inuktituk and English, she is “firmly committed” to learn Canada’s other official language.

Jul 08, 2021

A U.S. Marine Corps officer serving as general counsel at U.S. Cyber Command has suggested that says some transnational criminal hacking could warrant a military response. “Under ideal conditions, law enforcement organizations would address any type of criminal activity,” LCol Kurt Sanger argues in a co-authored article, noting that ideal conditions are rare in cyberspace. “Operational opportunities often must be seized immediately by whatever entity is best positioned to do so.”

Jul 08, 2021

Former South African president Jacob Zuma presented himself to police today to begin serving a 15-month jail term for contempt of court. He had defied a court order to testify before a judicial commission investigating widespread allegations of corruption during his time in office.

Jul 07, 2021

Section 34 of Canada’s Immigration Act, which states that anyone who acted to overthrow a democratically-elected government, is presenting a huge hurdle for an Ivory Coast refugee facing deportation. Mamadou Konaté originally was deemed “imadmissible” because of his involvement in a civil war 20 years ago. His lawyer says Section 34 technically means that Nelson Mandela and even opponents of Adolf Hitler could have been denied residency status by Canada.

Jul 07, 2021

A business and environmental strategy designed to promote hydrogen as a renewable and low-carbon energy source has been rolled out by the B.C. government. Bruce Ralston, minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, said July 6 that short-term goals include regional supply hubs and measures to increase the numbers of medium and heavy-duty vehicles powered by hydrogen. His department estimates the gas could reduce the province’s annual carbon emissions by 7.2 million tonnes by 2050.

Jul 07, 2021

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has begun producing enriched uranium which could lead to weapons development.

Jul 07, 2021

The heightened U.S. military presence along the border with Mexico is entering its fourth year with as many as 3,000 troops deployed through September 2022. They comprise mainly National Guard units controlled by U.S. Northern Command.

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