In the News

Aug 14, 2020

The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least 21 September, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has confirmed. First imposed in March when the COVID-19 pandemic began to surge, it has been extended several times due to concerns about developments in the U.S.

Aug 13, 2020

A peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, announced August 13, is being described by their leaders as a “breakthrough” which could advance peace in the Middle East overall. Only the third such deal since Israel declared its independence in 1948, it commits Israel to suspend further annexation of the West Bank. However, a senior Palestinian official has condemned the deal, telling the UAE leader, “may you never be sold out by your friends.”

Aug 13, 2020

California Senator Kamala Harris, Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden’s choice as vice-presidential running mate, is opposed to further increases in U.S. defence spending but wants a bigger Veterans Affairs budget, closer cooperation with allies on security matters, and more foreign aid. This is according to a review of her voting record in Congress, which urged the withdrawal of troops for Afghanistan and an overhaul of legislation to give Congress a greater voice in combat deployments.

Aug 13, 2020

Satellite imagery analyzed by 38 North, a website maintained by the Washington-based Stimson Centre think-tank, suggests recent flooding in North Korea may have compromised cooling systems at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre. Located north of the country’s capital, Yongbyon houses reactors as well as fuel re-processing and uranium enrichment facilities considered central to the regime’s nuclear weapons program.

Aug 13, 2020

Public Safety Canada has invited 15 consulting companies to come up with “options and approaches” for the government’s plan to compensate the owners of firearms which it has deemed illegal. The prohibition applies to some 1,500 models and variants of “assault-style” weapons.

Aug 13, 2020

His party holds only 32 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons and would need support from the other Opposition parties, but Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet says he will try to trigger a snap election if the prime minister, his chief of staff and his finance minister don't resign. Blanchet's rationale is that the minority Liberal government is not “worthy” of the public’s trust because of the WE Charity controversy.

Aug 13, 2020

A survey of Canadian and American respondents indicates widespread and shared unhappiness with President Donald Trump’s resurrection of import tariffs on Canadian aluminum. The web-based poll indicates that 58 per cent of Americans and 90 per cent of Canadians object to the tax.

Aug 12, 2020

Non-medical masks have been required for air travellers in Canada since mid-April to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but Transport Canada has closed a loophole which made it easier for some passengers to eschew face coverings. They now must present an official note from their physician that they should be exempt from the requirement; otherwise they will not be allowed to board.

Aug 12, 2020

The City of Edmonton has begun handing out mask exemption cards to any individuals who say they cannot wear a mask against COVID-19. There is no requirement for medical proof, however, as the city relies on “an honour system, that Edmontonians will do the right thing.”

Aug 12, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country’s health regulator is the first to approve a COVID-19 vaccine. But scientists worldwide say the decision to proceed with widespread immunization is dangerously premature because Russia hasn’t completed large Stage 3 trials to test its safety and efficacy.

Aug 12, 2020

After a third night of protests in Belarus against the reelection 9 August of Alexander Lukashenko’s government, police have used live ammunition against demonstrators who claim the election was fixed. The European Union has called the vote “neither free nor fair.”

Aug 12, 2020

Authorities say that the remaining oil on a Japanese cargo ship which ran aground off Mauritius in late July is expected to be pumped out before the vessel breaks up. The island nation in the Indian Ocean is home to world-renowned coral reefs and tourism is a crucial part of its economy.

Aug 12, 2020

New satellite imagery of an already fractured ice shelf north of Ellesmere Island shows that an 80km2 section has broken off and then split into two segments which drifted into the Arctic Ocean in late July. Ellesmere was once bounded by extensive shelves covering 8,600km2 but global warming has resulted in continued shrinkage to less than 500km2.

Aug 12, 2020

The Canadian government has quietly abandoned its prosecution of a couple for alleged espionage after Federal Court Judge Henry Brown was “unable to reasonably find any reason to believe the applicant was engaged in anything secret, clandestine, surreptitious or covert.” The Canada Border Services Agency, relying mainly on unsubstantiated claims by a Russian defector, opted to pursue the case against David and Elena Crenna even though Canadian and American intelligence officials found their version of events credible.

Aug 11, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has professed confidence in Finance Minister Bill Morneau in response to a published report that they had clashed over how much the PM wanted to spend in tackling the COVID-19 crisis. “The Prime Minister has full confidence in Minister Morneau and any statement to the contrary is false,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement, lauding the finance minister’s “important work.”

Aug 11, 2020

Former Vice-President Joe Biden has chosen California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the race for the U.S. presidency. Of Jamaican-Indian heritage, the former prosecutor had criticized Biden during Democratic primaries and is only the fourth woman in U.S. history to be chosen as vice-presidential candidate.

Aug 11, 2020

>An autonomous aerial vehicle designed for fighting highrise fires has been demonstrated by its Chinese developer, EHang Holdings Ltd. The company says its autopilot and centralized management technologies enable the EHang 216, which it also describes as a “passenger grade” AAV, to be remotely dispatched ahead of first responders, equipped with up to 150 litres of foam and extinguisher “bombs” which can be fired into a blaze at levels too high for conventional fire-fighting equipment.

Aug 10, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense Department requested a 30-day court extension to resolve ongoing issues with its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract. The multibillion-dollar contract had been expected to be awarded 17 August after numerous delays, notably the need to address a legal protest by Amazon Web Services after the contract was initially awarded to Microsoft last fall. Already two years behind schedule, there evidently are still “areas of concern with respect to the revised proposals,” the DoD said 10 August. 

Aug 10, 2020

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is seeking an alternative to biometrics or physical identification for verifying passengers at airport security checkpoints. The initiative is prompted by the fact that before COVID-19 disrupted air travel, the TSA had to deal with 600 passengers daily who lacked acceptable documention.

Aug 10, 2020

Transport Canada has certified EHang Holdings Ltd., of Guangzhou, China, to conduct flight tests of its EHang 216 autonomous aerial vehicle in Quebec, following special operating certificates issued by several other countries. “It conveys a positive signal from global regulators to establish a supportive and sustainable regulatory environment,” the company said in a statement.

Aug 10, 2020

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam and 10 other senior officials from the former British colony and mainland China have been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for their role in undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy. Lam is specifically accused of “implementing Beijing's policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes.”

Aug 10, 2020

Veteran immunologist Anthony Fauci, who has been the frequent face of the U.S. government’s COVID-19 effort, says he has received death threats and his three adult daughters have been harassed “to the point where I have to get security.” A member of the administration’s coronavirus "task force" headed by Vice-President Mike Pence, Dr. Fauci has often been at odds with President Donald Trump.

Aug 10, 2020

Governments and the pharmaceutical industry are mounting public awareness campaigns to ensure that public distrust doesn’t undermine the efficacy of any COVID-19 vaccination program. More than 200 vaccine candidates are in development globally, including more than 20 currently in human clinical trials.

Aug 10, 2020

A week after a cataclysmic explosion flattened Beirut’s harbour area and caused damage for kilometres around, Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced 10 August that his government was resigning. PM for only nine months, he blamed the blast on systemic corruption “in every part of the state.” The cause of the explosion is believed to have ammonium nitrate which had been in storage in a waterside warehouse since 2013.

Aug 10, 2020

President Donald Trump has signed executive orders which would ban the Chinese social media apps, TikTok and WeChat, effective 20 September, on alleged national security grounds because of linkages with the Chinese government.

Aug 07, 2020

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to reimpose a 10 per cent tariff on Canadian aluminum is nothing more than back-stabbing. “I just have to say how disappointed I am with President Trump,” Ford said 7 August. “In times like this, who tries to go after your closest ally, your closest trading partner, your number one customer in the entire world? Who would do this? Well, President Trump did this.”

Aug 07, 2020

Just five weeks after the new North American free trade agreement went into effect, U.S. President Donald Trump’s announced 6 August that he would impose a 10 per cent import tariff on Canadian aluminum. As with a previous aluminum tariff, Trump cited national security concerns. In Ottawa, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland promised “dollar-for-dollar countermeasures.” 

Aug 06, 2020

Nearly half of Canadians would support an early general election if Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion finds that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the WE charity affair has contravened the Conflict of Interest Act. The response to a recent online poll of 1,531 adults indicates that the PM’s personal popularity has suffered along with the public’s support for the Liberal Party.

Aug 06, 2020

An initial $5 million in emergency aid has been promised by Canada after the Lebanese capital of Beirut was devastated by an explosion 5 August. International Development Minister Karina Gould said Canada would continue to support “trusted partners” but reiterated concerns about corruption and government mismanagement cited as contributing factors in the explosion. “We are ready to provide assistance,” she said 6 August. “However, we recognize that that has to come with significant fiscal and political reforms.”

Aug 06, 2020

Lebanese President President Michel Aoun says the 5 August explosion in Beirut was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which had been stored unsafely in a dockside warehouse and evidently set off by a fire in a nearby facility. With recovery and rescue efforts continuing, the latest toll was at least 137 dead and some 5,000 injured by a blast which could felt as far away as Cyprus.

Aug 06, 2020

The federal government is partnering with two major international companies to secure millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for national distribution. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand says the deal with Pfizer and Moderna will help to position Canada at the front of the line when a vaccine becomes available. Fifty-five potential COVID-19 drugs, including vaccine candidates, are currently being investigated in clinical trials authorized by Health Canada.

Aug 06, 2020

A civil lawsuit filed in the U.S. alleges that Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman assigned a hit-squad to murder Saad Aljabri, a former intelligence officer now resident in Canada. Claiming a close relationship with U.S. intelligence over the decades. Aljabri says he is uniquely positioned to threaten bin Salman's standing in Washington.

Aug 06, 2020

New York Attorney General Letitia James is trying put the National Rifle Association out of business with a lawsuit which alleges that NRA executives have diverted millions of dollars for an array of questionable expenditures. Having filed suit in state court, she said the politically powerful gun lobby had become “a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality.”

Aug 06, 2020

The federal government is “profoundly concerned” about a Canadian citizen, Xu Weihong, who has been sentenced to death on drug charges in China. Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court provided no details but local media said Xu and an associate who has been sentenced to life imprisonment, had been manufacturing ketamine. “Canada opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases, everywhere,” a Global Affairs spokesman said 6 August, adding that Canadian diplomats had provided Xu with consular assistance and had attended his sentencing.

Aug 06, 2020

The federal government is being pressed by B.C. to share the identities and contact information of airline passengers who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says the current information provided by Transport Canada is “sometimes unusable” in that it often includes only the name of a travel agency or another individual who booked the ticket.

Aug 05, 2020

Last fall, leaders in the biosecurity field ranked the U.S. at the top of the Global Health Security Index, which graded 195 countries in terms of their preparedness to fight outbreaks. Canada ranked fifth behind the U.K., the Netherlands and Australia. President Donald Trump even held up the copy of that report during a White House briefing last February. So what happened when COVID-19 hit? The Journal Nature offers an explanation and looks ahead.

Aug 05, 2020

Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s Chief Public Officer of Health, says Canadians should no expect a COVID-19 vaccine to quickly end the pandemic. “We're going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year,” she said 4 August, adding that the country should be prepared “for the longer term of the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role.”

Aug 05, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is about to be reduced in the House of Commons, to 155 seats, when Toronto-area backbench MP Michael Levitt resigns 1 September to head up a Jewish human rights organization. Having defeated the Conservative incumbent in 2015 when the Liberals scored a majority, he was re-elected last year when the government was reduced to a minority.

Aug 05, 2020

The Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador has a new leader: 45-year-old surgeon Andrew Furey, who defeated challenger John Abbott in the contest to replace Premier Dwight Ball. He says “things will be done differently” as he tries to move the province away from “that well-worn path of boom and bust and back again.”

Aug 05, 2020

At least 100 persons died and more than 4,000 others were injured by a massive explosion 04 August in the port area of Beirut. As rescue and recovery efforts continue, there are indications that the blast originated with 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which may have deteriorated in a warehouse since it was seized from an impounded ship in 2013. Canada is among a number of countries which have offered assistance.

Aug 05, 2020

After the federal government information watchdog testified to finding evidence of internal activity to thwart access to information searches related to the failed case against VAdm Mark Norman, the Public Prosecutions office had contacted the RCMP in March 2019. The RCMP determined it was in a conflict of interest due to its investigation of Norman and it had planned to refer the case to the OPP. However, “due to an administrative error and changes in senior staff at the time, it appears we never made that referral,” said RCMP spokesman Daniel Brien in response to recent questions from the Ottawa Citizen.

Aug 04, 2020

A government-supported smartphone app which helps to track COVID-19 has been activitated in Ontario, setting the stage for a national rollout. The app uses Bluetooth technology to alert users to potential close proximity of others who have tested positive, but no personal data is collected.

Aug 04, 2020

The number of COVID-19 deaths in Iran is reported to be almost triple the toll claimed by the health ministry. The government’s own records evidently show nearly 42,000 deaths up to 20 July compared with 14,405 reported by the ministry. Also, the number of confirmed cases is almost double: 451,024 as opposed to 278,827.

Aug 04, 2020

The latest Statistics Canada data on gross domestic product clearly show COVID-19’s economic impact. Real GDP in May was up 3.5 per cent from April and while it is subject to revision, the uptick followed two sharp monthly drops and is attributed to time-limited federal government support programs. The agency also notes that economic activity was still 15 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

Aug 04, 2020

The United Arab Emirates has begun operating the first of four reactors at the Arab world's first nuclear power plant, near its border with Qatar, which has called the installation a “flagrant threat” to regional peace and the environment. The plant uses South Korean technology and the goal is to have it eventually generate a quarter of UAE energy needs.

Jul 31, 2020

For the first such action in its history, the European Union has imposed sanctions and frozen the assets of six individuals and three groups associated with hacking traced to North Korea, China and Russia.

Jul 30, 2020

The US economy shrank by an annualized 32.9 per cent in the second quarter. The sharpest contraction since the government began keeping record in 1947, it was more than triple the previous record of 10 per cent in 1958.

Jul 30, 2020

Babel Street, a data analytics company headquartered in Reston, Va., says major Chinese technology and manufacturing concerns not only have links with their government but also help to expand China’s influence into other countries’ manufacturing sectors. Moreover, it says, China and Russia coordinate their investments to avoid conflict.

Jul 30, 2020

Twelve declared pro-democracy candidates in an upcoming Hong Kong election have been rejected from the ballot, deepening political tensions in the former British colony as the Chinese government tightens its grip. Opposition legislators had hoped to secure a Legislative Council majority in September but have been declared unfit to seek office.

Jul 30, 2020

NASA’s most sophisticated Mars rover, complete with a small helicopter an array of other exploratory technologies, was launched 30 July from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Due to go into orbit around the Red Planet in February, it was the third Mars mission launch in 11 days. The United Arab Emirates sent an orbiter 19 July and China an orbiter/rover package 23 July, both of which also are to arrive next February.

Jul 29, 2020

A federal inquiry into a Nova Scotia mass shooting in April has been announced by Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair. The provincial government initially planned a standard review but eventually bowed to pressure from families of the 22 victims with political support in Ottawa.

Jul 29, 2020

Health Canada has approved, subject to conditions, a drug for treatment of some COVID-19 victims. Remdesivir, brand-name Veklury, is manufactured by Gilead Sciences Canada but is in short supply worldwide and approved only for use in hospitalized adults and adolescents weighing at least 40kg.

Jul 29, 2020

A Kingston, Ont. teenager has pled guilty to four terrorism-related offences in connection with what police say was a pressure-cooker bomb plot. He was charged after two homes were searched by local police following a tip from the FBI.

Jul 29, 2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued for public comment a draft regulation for carbon dioxide emissions from larger commercial aircraft. Matching standards adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization in 2017, the rule would apply retroactively to new designs begun this year and from 2028 onward to current models.

Jul 29, 2020

The International Air Transport Association says airline travel will not rebound to pre-corona virus levels until at least 2024 and that this year will see a larger decrease than previously forecast, particularly for long-haul service. Slow containment and regional flare-ups of COVID-19 in the U.S. are cited for the revised outlook.

Jul 27, 2020

In the third such case in recent months, the Ontario government’s Special Investigations Unit is dealing with a police officer’s refusal to meet with the watchdog agency or provide case notes about a fatal shooting. The officer killed a 62-year-old man who evidently was in mental distress, but the SIU says that provincial legislation contains no legal compulsion for police to cooperate.

Jul 27, 2020

The U.S. consulate in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is shuttered after Bejing ordered its closure. The move was in response to the U.S. administration's order last week that the Chinese consulate in Houston due to alleged intelligence agents’ attempts to stead intellectual property.

Jul 27, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. should abandon its 50-year engagement with China. Accusing it of lying, cheating and stealing its way to power and prosperity, he is calling on allies to “induce” change by forcing the Chinese Communist Party to change direction or face isolation. 

Jul 24, 2020

The UN Security Council has been warned that an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea is likely if a 46-year-old oil tanker held by rebels in war-torn Yemen is not dealt with. The leaking vessel holds an estimated 183,000 cubic metres of light crude, four times the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill that contaminated coastal regions of Alaska and British Columbia.

Jul 24, 2020

The impending retirement of Army Gen Jonathan Vance as Chief of the Defence Staff, which he announced 23 July, is prompting speculation that the Liberal government would like to appoint a female successor. However, there evidently is a shortage of potential candidates with one of the two most experienced women set to retire herself and the other a relative unknown outside the Department of National Defence.

Jul 23, 2020

Responding to a number of controversial “wellness check” incidents involving the RCMP, Michelaine Lahaie, head of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, says officers tend to have a “command and control” approach when dealing with “non-compliant” persons. She says this has led to an “unreasonable use of force in apprehending persons in crisis.”

Jul 23, 2020

The U.S. State Department has told China to close its consulate in Houston due to security concerns and ostensibly to prevent the theft of intellectual property. Beijing called the directive, which is to take effect 24 July “political provocation.”

Jul 23, 2020

The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, designed to block visitors from entering either country from the other and seeking asylum, violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In handing down her decision, Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald has given the government six months to respond.

Jul 23, 2020

China has launched a Mars mission from its Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island. It should enter Mars orbit next February but is not expected to deploy its Tianwen-1 (Questions to Heaven) rover to the planet’s surface for at least two months afterward.

Jul 22, 2020

The government has confirmed that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan received a COVID-19 briefing from military intelligence staff 10 days before it was discussed by the Prime Minister’s incident response team. The briefing 17 January took place 17 days after the World Health Organization learned of initial outbreaks in China. 

Jul 21, 2020

Five days of often fractious and intense negotiation between European Union leaders ended 21 July with an agreement to spend €750 billion to rescue their economies from the impact of COVID-19. It will be funded by the EU’s first collective sale of bonds with the proceeds distributed as grants rather than repayable loans.

Jul 21, 2020

A military intelligence team collected information from individual Canadians’ social media accounts in Ontario, ostensibly to help the Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed temorarily to long-term care facilities as a COVID-19 response. However, critics, including from within the CAF, are reportedly concerned that the now suspended data-mining was unethical and borderline illegal.

Jul 20, 2020

David Mulroney, Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012, says that rather than developing an overarching strategy for China, Canada should take a “more modest” approach to the relationship, focusing on “being clear in our thinking about what … its likely intentions are.” Done effectively, he says in a broad-ranging interview, “it would make clear that China is an increasingly adversarial state that sees Canada as a rather unimportant country.”

Jul 20, 2020

Britain suspended an extradition treaty with Hong Kong 20 July in protest of a new Chinese security law imposed on the former British colony. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the decision in Parliament in response to concerns that anyone extradited to Hong Kong from Britain could be handed over to Beijing. The announcement came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was preparing for a two-day visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Jul 20, 2020

Cockpit voice recorder data from the Ukrainian airliner shot down by Iran in January has been downloaded by a team of investigators in France, including experts from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada who will help with data analysis. Iran handed over the CVR and Flight Data Recorder during the weekend after months of discussion.

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