In the News

Aug 23, 2021

Health care funding, indigenous people’s rights, and a push for more federal funding for “green” programs are among the 30 elements of the Bloc Québécois platform for the Sept. 20 federal election. With 32 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons, Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet said Aug. 22 that he believes “we have forced all parties to respect us.”

Aug 23, 2021

As western forces continued to work today on evacuating their remaining diplomatic and other personnel as well as Afghan supporters, Afghan guards exchanged fire with unidentified gunmen at Kabul airport. It’s reported that a sniper outside the airport had fired at Afghan guards and that U.S. and German troops were involved in the response but NATO officials say the situation was soon under control.

Aug 23, 2021

Social media messaging on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has been labelled “manipulated media” by Twitter. The tweets in both official languages show Conservative leader Erin O'Toole saying last year in a party leadership debate that he supported “for profit” private health care but did not include his additional comment that universal public access would remain paramount.

Aug 23, 2021

There’s a possibility that not all candidates in the Sept. 20 federal election will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Liberal and New Democratic Party candidates must be vaccinated but neither the Conservatives nor the fringe People’s Party of Canada are requiring it as a fourth wave builds mainly among the unvaccinated electorate.

Aug 23, 2021

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canadian special forces in Afghanistan have been given the “flexibility” to help get Canadians, Afghan interpreters and support staff to Kabul airport for evacuation. The U.S. has refused to deploy troops outside the airport but British and French special forces have carried out rescues in Kabul.

Aug 23, 2021

York Regional Police in the northern part of the Great Toronto Area have confirmed that one of their drones collided earlier this month with a training aircraft on approach to Buttonville Airport. The Cessna 172 sustained significant damage to its engine cowling but the instructor, who assumed there had been a bird strike, landed safely with the student before the damage was discovered.

Aug 20, 2021

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed today that the land border will remain closed to non-essential travel by Canadians until at least Sept. 21. “Given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 within the United States and globally, the Secretary has determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada poses an ongoing specific threat to human life or national interests,” it explained.

Aug 20, 2021

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino has broached the possibility of Canada taking Afghan refugees on behalf of its allies if asked to do so. “We should keep the door open to all possibilities,” he said today. ““If there were Afghans who had assisted coalition partners during the mission that also met the criteria for our humanitarian resettlement program, I think we should be prepared to consider such an arrangement.”

Aug 20, 2021

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has called for the Director of National Intelligence to assess the GPS’s vulnerability to hostile interests. A law enacted in 2018 was not acted on by the previous administration and now it’s President Joe Biden’s opportunity to act – but the challenge isn’t without its difficulties.

Aug 20, 2021

President Joe Biden announced today that he plans to nominate career diplomat Nicholas Burns as the U.S. ambassador to China and former politician Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan.

Aug 20, 2021

A proposed £29-billion takeover of the British chip designer Arm by the California-based Nvidia technology company worries the U.K Competition and Markets Authority. Calling for a more in-depth review of the deal, it says the proposal raises “serious” concerns about competition and the potential for stifling innovation.

Aug 20, 2021

Organizers of the annual Halifax International Security Forum say the federal government has not acted on a unanimous House of Commons motion of financial support. Scheduled for late November, the forum is seen as a highly productive platform for discussing pressing global issues.

Aug 20, 2021

A member of Ontario’s governing Progressive Conservative caucus has been expelled for refusing COVID-19 vaccinations. Rick Nicholls confirmed the decision Aug. 19, saying only that he and his wife opted not to be vaccinated for “personal reasons,” disregarding a warning two days earlier by Premier Doug Ford.

Aug 20, 2021

In a cabinet shuffle Aug. 19, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has reassigned his ambassador to China, Felix Plasencia, appointing him as Foreign Minister. His predecessor, Jorge Arreaza, has been moved to the industry and production. These and other changes come as the internationally-beleaguered government is in negotiations with its political opposition to ease a stalemate.

Aug 20, 2021

The mission to evacuate U.S. citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghans as the Taliban tighten their grip is ramping up. U.S. officials say that while they could handle up to 9,000 evacuees daily, the average has been around 2,000, the flow evidently blocked at Taliban checkpoints.

Aug 20, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it could be “almost impossible” to evacuate most Afghans who worked with Canada's military mission because the Taliban is blocking the effort. It’s reported that at least 1,500 Afghan interpreters with up to 5,000 dependents are on a waiting list for Canadian visas.

Aug 20, 2021

The Taliban’s behaviour since taking control of most of Afghanistan belies its earlier messaging that there would be “no revenge” against military members and others who worked with the NATO alliance. The Islamist militants have been doing door-to-door searches and a Norwegian analyst who advises the UN says “there are a high number of individuals that are currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear.”

Aug 19, 2021

Detained in Vancouver for more than two and a half years at the request of the U.S., Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou now must wait more than two months to hear whether she will be extradited to face fraud allegations. With legal arguments concluded, the decision rests with B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes, who has set Oct. 21 for Meng’s next appearance but would not have a verdict ready.

Aug 19, 2021

The International Monetary Fund says Afghanistan no longer has access to IMF resources now that the Taliban are in control. An IMF spokesperson cited a “lack of clarity within the international community” about recognizing Afghanistan’s government as the Washington-based organization was preparing to release funds. “The potential . . . to provide nearly half a billion dollars in unconditional liquidity to a regime with a history of supporting terrorist actions against the United States and her allies is extremely concerning,” the IMF said.

Aug 19, 2021

A British visitor to Singapore has been jailed for six weeks for repeatedly breaking the city-state’s COVID-19 protocols by refusing to wear a mask in public. He was found guilty of four charges, including not masking on a train and at a court appearance as well as causing a public nuisance and threatening government staff.

Aug 19, 2021

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has promised that two of the RCAF’s five CC-177 Boeing Globemaster III transports are set to resume “flying regularly” into Kabul as part of the international effort to evacuate civilians and citizens. Details are vague but he said “flights to and from Hamid Karzai International Airport will resume shortly.”

Aug 19, 2021

U.S. troops could remain in Afghanistan past the end of this month to evacuate all Americans who wish to leave. He said in a televised interview that the Taliban are “cooperating, letting American citizens get out” but there are still difficulties in evacuating Afghans “who helped us when we were in there.”

Aug 18, 2021

The U.S. Transportation Security Agency today said it would continue to require employees and passengers on airlines and other public transport to continue wearing masks against CVOVID-19 for at least five more months. The current order was scheduled to expire Sept. 13. The Federal Aviation Administration reported Aug. 17 that of 3,889 incidents with unruly airline passengers so far this year, 74 per cent involve mask refusals.

Aug 18, 2021

The logistics of the Sept. 20 federal general election will be complicated by COVID-19 and it could take two to five days to publish final results, Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault. He explained today that up to five million voters are expected to vote by mail this time compared with some 50,000 in the 2019 election.

Aug 18, 2021

The Progressive Conservatives unseated the incumbent Liberal administration in the Aug. 17 Nova Scotia general election in which health care funding emerged as the key issue. With two seats to call, they had 39.1 per cent of the vote, which translated to 31 seats with at least 28 required for a legislative majority.

Aug 18, 2021

British Columbia’s wildfire problem has prompted the provincial government to extend its state of emergency by two weeks. More than 30,000 properties remain under evacuation orders and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Aug. 17 that travel to the areas should be avoided.

Aug 18, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is determined to have all federal employees vaccinated against COVID-19. “If anyone doesn't have a legitimate medical reason for not getting fully vaccinated — or chooses to not get vaccinated — there will be consequences,” he said Aug. 17 without explaining what the repercussions might be.

Aug 18, 2021

The Ontario government said Aug. 17 that all public education and key healthcare employers must have COVID-19 vaccination policies in place in the coming weeks. It also plans to offer booster shots to some vulnerable populations and expand children’s eligibility.

Aug 18, 2021

Efforts to evacuate Canadian expatriates and Afghan support staff are being hampered by Taliban checkpoints in Kabul as well as what are described as unreasonable requests for exit documents. Some 800 former translators and others who worked for Canada, as well as an unknown number of Canadians, are said to be in hiding, uncertain how they can get to the airport.

Aug 18, 2021

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Aug. 17 that a failure of Afghan leadership in combination with alliance training efforts, were responsible for the collapse of the country’s military defences against the Taliban. “What we have seen in the last few weeks was a military and political collapse at a speed which had not been anticipated,” he said after a meeting of NATO ambassadors.

Aug 18, 2021

The federal government is dropping its request that the Federal Court block the release of documents related to the dismissal of two scientists at the country’s Level 4 containment laboratory in Winnipeg. The Public Health Agency of Canada had refused to provide the information to a House of Commons committee, a decision which prompted the government’s action and pitted the Speaker again his own party.

Aug 17, 2021

Two days after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met with members of his country’s political opposition, authorities released Freddy Guevara. A close ally of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, he had been charged in July with treason and terrorism.

Aug 17, 2021

A flight with Canadian special ops personnel and embassy staff from Kabul arrived in Ottawa late Aug. 16. There were no Afghans aboard but an unspecified number arrived in Toronto about the same time.

Aug 17, 2021

Japan has extended its state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions and announced new measures covering seven more prefectures to counter a COVID-19 spike threatening to overload its medical system. The latest development covers nearly 60 per cent of the population.

Aug 17, 2021

A recent spike in gun violence in several major centres has revived debate about the federal government’s gun-control agenda. Bill-21, which introduced in the House of Commons February and would have included a buy-back program, saw only minimal debate before Parliament was prorogued for the Sept. 20 general election. The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights says the group opposes any measure leading to “confiscation of legal guns.”

Aug 16, 2021

A 160-page election campaign platform released by the Conservative Party of Canada today promises billions in new spending to support a pandemic-ravaged economy. It also promises, among other things, revisions to carbon tax and child-care and a balanced budget in 10 years.

Aug 16, 2021

Russia's 819 COVID-19 deaths Aug. 14 was a daily record, confirmed on the heels of a report that Moscow had the highest toll since the pandemic began. The country’s daily deaths are on the rise after infections peaked in July and the authorities blame the Delta variant and a slow vaccination rate.

Aug 16, 2021

Dealing with a fifth wave of COVID-19, Iran, ostensibly the worst-hit country in the Middle East, has imposed a one-week lockdown and banned most road travel. Its health ministry reported 466 deaths Aug. 14, down from a record 588 five days earlier. Social media users accuse the government of mismanagement with only 4.6 per cent of the population of 83 million vaccinated but officials blame U.S. sanctions for limiting supplies.

Aug 16, 2021

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that global average temperatures in July were the hottest since record-keeping began 142 years ago. The combined land and ocean-surface reading was 0.93°C above the average for the last century and in the northern hemisphere, land temperatures in July were an “unprecedented” 1.54° higher than average.

Aug 16, 2021

A lawyer representing detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has cautioned against any “rubber stamp” extradition ruling by B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes. Eric Gottardi cited a 2006 opinion by then Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlan that judges “must act as a judge, not a rubber stamp” when considering applications for extradition requests because it could “undermine the basic demands of justice.”

Aug 16, 2021

As the state of New South Wales prepared for a COVID-19 lockdown which went into effect Aug. 14 in response to what the government says is “literally a war,” the state government said military personnel were being deployed to enforce restrictions in the Sydney area. As well, fines for non-compliance were being increased.

Aug 16, 2021

In a move expected to be emulated in Canada, U.S regulators have authorized a third dose of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines for people with compromised immune systems.

Aug 16, 2021

No sooner had Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a general election for Sept. 20 than the group which coordinates televised debates confirmed the dates for two broadcasts from the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. The French debate is set for Sept. 8 with the English debate the following evening; topics will be announced three days in advance.

Aug 16, 2021

Canada shut down its embassy in Kabul Aug. 15, suspending diplomatic relations as the Taliban continued their move into the capital. Citing “serious challenges” to the security of its remaining personnel before they were evacuated, the government said operations would resume as soon as practicable.

Aug 16, 2021

Still recovering from the effects of a massive earthquake in 2010, Haiti was struck by another one on the weekend. At last count, there were nearly 1,300 confirmed fatalities with thousands of people still unaccounted for and the rescue effort was expected to be hampered by a major tropical storm bearing down on the island today.

Aug 16, 2021

A few days shy of the halfway mark in his four-year mandate from the October 2019 general election which yielded a Liberal minority government, Prime Minister Justice Trudeau has set Sept. 20 as the date for new election he hopes will give the party a majority he said Aug. 15 is needed to move ahead with key prorams.

Aug 13, 2021

The federal government announced today that it plans to require all public service employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 and “expects” the initiative to be taken up by federally-regulated industries such as air and rail transport, banking, broadcasting and telecommunications. The government says it will work with public service unions and employers to have the mandate in place by the end of October.

Aug 13, 2021

The world’s third-busiest cargo port, Ningbo-Zhoushan in eastern China, has been partly shutdown after a single COVID-19 case was reported. Closing one terminal Aug. 11 until further notice reduced the port’s container capacity by about 25 per cent and has sparked concerns about trade flows ahead of the economically-important Christmas season.

Aug 13, 2021

A provincial court judge in Manitoba has stayed the charge of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl a decade ago because inaction and miscommunication by the RCMP and Crown prosecutors stalled the case for seven years. led to seven years of delays. The judge acknowledged the seriousness of the allegation but “even the most serious charges cannot diminish the right to trial within a reasonable time.”

Aug 13, 2021

Edmonton lawyer Peter Royal has been cited for contempt by Alberta Provincial Court Judge Marilena Carminato for not masking against COVID-19 in her courtroom. The hearing transcript shows that Royal, who has been fully vaccinated, flatly refused the judge’s order and challenged her to do something. So she cited him but gave him time to prepare written arguments

Aug 13, 2021

As Canada and its allies prepared to evacuate remaining diplomatic personnel from Afghanistan, the Taliban continued their encirclement of Kabul today, capturing four more provincial capitals in a lightning offensive. Their capture of half the 34 capitals, including two of the largest cities in recent days, means they now control more than two-thirds of the country.

Aug 12, 2021

U.S. diplomats and their families being withdrawn from Kabul as the Taliban threat to the city increases will be protected by three infantry battalions as they travel to the airport from the embassy. “This is the prudent thing to do, given the rapidly deteriorating security situation,” a Pentagon official confirmed today after the embassy had urged all Americans in Afghanistan to leave immediately.

Aug 12, 2021

The cost of acquiring three used Norwegian icebreakers the government is buying through the Quebec shipyard Chantier Davie has topped $921 million, some 50 per cent higher than the original 2018 estimate. The yard recently received additional payment to continue converting them for Canadian Coast Guard use until new ships are built.

Aug 12, 2021

With the Taliban accelerating their takeover of key Afghan centres and show no signs of easing up on their brutality, Ottawa is making emergency preparations to evacuate its fortified embassy in Kabul. Defence Minisiter Harjit Sajjan was advised of the plan in March amid an “uptick in violence” and a small cohort of Canadian Armed Forces members is monitoring the situation.

Aug 12, 2021

An Ontario man returning home by taxi from the U.S. at the Detroit-Windsor crossing says he has been fined $6,255 for being unable to provide proof of his COVID-19 vaccination status quickly enough for a Canada Border Services Agency officer. Saadi Kadhum had forgotten his email password and when locked out of his account, evidently was refused permission to leave the vehicle for “two, three minutes” to have access to a computer to verify his status.

Aug 12, 2021

Pressing on with plans to have New Zealand’s population vaccinated against COVID-19 by year’s end, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her country's borders will remain closed until at least then, after which it would move to an individual risk-based model for quarantine-free travel.

Aug 12, 2021

After recording its first COVID-19 case in more than a year, the Australian Capital Territory today began a one-week lockdown. The region around Canberra has a population of some 400,000. The country is struggling to contain the Delta variant as other large centres also have locked down and New South Wales Governor Gladys Berejiklian is prepared to use the military to ensure compliance.

Aug 12, 2021

The International Energy Agency reported today that growing demand for oil abruptly reversed course last month and is expected to rebound more slowly for the rest of 2021 due to continued outbreaks of the COVID-19 Delta variant. “Restrictions imposed in several major oil consuming countries, particularly in Asia, look set to reduce mobility and oil use,” the IEA said.

Aug 11, 2021

The federal government plans to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination documents ready for international travel in the fall. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said today that Ottawa is working with the provinces, which hold the necessary data, so that the passports also could facilitate internal travel as the pandemic continues.

Aug 11, 2021

A British citizen hired locally to work at his country’s embassy in Berlin has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia “at least once” in exchange for an “unknown amount” of money. The arrest resulted from a joint investigation and British police confirmed the arrest.

Aug 10, 2021

A Chinese court has sentenced Michael Spavor to 11 years in prison for alleged espionage and providing state secrets to other countries. The ruling comes more than two and a half years after he was detained in what many see as a political response to Canada’s detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S. Spavor has been ordered deported but it was not immediately clear whether that would occur before or after his prison term.

Aug 08, 2021

Canada Border Services Agency employees have a tentative contract after 36 hours of 11th-hour negotiations with Treasury Board. The deal, yet to be formally ratified, followed a day-long work-to-rule campaign which resulted in long delays at some crossings only a couple of days before the border was to be reopened to vaccinated U.S. visitors.

Aug 10, 2021

Canada will become home to Moderna’s first foreign vaccine research and manufacturing facility within two years. The Massachusetts company confirmed today that it has signed an MoU with the federal government to set up the facility but location and financing details were not disclosed.

Aug 10, 2021

The U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan warned the Taliban resurgency today that any government it establishes by force will not be recognized. Zalmay Khalilzad delivered the message to Taliban representatives in Qatar. Meanwhile, the Taliban’s military leader has ordered his followers not to harm Afghan forces and government officials in conquered territories.

Aug 10, 2021

Lithuania was asked today to withdraw its ambassador to Beijing after permitting Taiwan to open a Representative Office in Vilnius. Also announcing that it would recall its envoy to the Baltic state, Beijing said Lithuania had disregarded its “representations and articulation of potential consequences” when the plan was announced last month.

Aug 10, 2021

A Chinese court today upheld the death sentence imposed on Canadian Robert Schellenberg for drug smuggling even as a B.C. judge is expected to rule on the requested deportation of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to face fraud charges in the U.S. Schellenberg originally was sentenced to 15 years but an appellate court imposed the death penalty in 2019, a month after Meng was detained at the request of the former U.S. administration.

Aug 10, 2021

Canada has received several planeloads of Afghans fleeing the Taliban but Canadian veterans say unrealistic bureaucrats are undermining the process by, among other things, requiring prospective refugees to have passports and proof of COVID-19 testing. One veteran involved in the rescue effort says that if the process is not improved, “people will get left behind and innocent people will die.”

Aug 10, 2021

Economic sanctions imposed on Belarus by Canada and other countries are being denounced by President Alexander Lukashenko whose government is increasing its crackdown on dissidents. Dismissing complaints that his reelection last year was rigged, he said in an hours-long broadcast Aug. 9 that his critics “will choke on these sanctions" which he inferred could spark military conflict.

Aug 09, 2021

A program designed to facilitate online tracking of child abuse has been unveiled by Apple Inc. It would check imagery on a country-by-country basis, subject to local laws but with built-in safeguards to prevent governments from using it for other purposes.

Aug 09, 2021

The RCMP says it is falling behind on recruitment of women and visible minorities as it struggles to comply with the federal government’s employment equity standards. Among other things, it has shortfalls in both cohorts but not among indigenous members.

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