In the News

Nov 16, 2020

Eight years of talks have resulted in the creation of a new international trading bloc that accounts for nearly a third of the global economy. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership involves 15 countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and 10 Southeast Asian countries

Nov 16, 2020

A year-long Canadian military peacekeeping mission in Mali, providing aeromedical and transport services, ended in August 2019. Now Canada is being urged to provide new military assistance to help fight Islamic militants as well as join a diplomatic push for peace and reconciliation among warring factions.

Nov 16, 2020

St. John has shut down much of its information technology systems after the New Brunswick city experienced a “significant” cyber attack. Critical services such as 911 emergency are not affected, but many online services such as bill payments are. The city says it’s unclear whether customers’ personal information is at risk.

Nov 16, 2020

The federal government will provide $1.5 billion in job-training support to the provinces and territories to help employees of industries hit by COVID-19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the funding will support retraining because “more than ever, the labour market is evolving quickly and workers need to be able to develop new skills.”

Nov 16, 2020

Three U.S. and one Japanese astronaut were launched to the International Space Station by SpaceX, the first full “taxi flight” by a private company. The capsule is due to dock with the ISS late Nov. 16 after needing some 27 hours to achieve the necessary orbit.

Nov 16, 2020

Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, wants its Human Rights Council to investigate whether China's treatment of Uighurs should be considered genocidal. “There's no question that there's aspects of what the Chinese are doing that fits into the definition,” he said after an address to the UN General Assembly. A parliamentary committee said last month that Chinese treatment of the mostly Muslim minority did meet the definition of genocide.

Nov 16, 2020

Ten CBSA and RCMP officers who were on duty at Vancouver International Airport when Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested 23 months ago at the request of the U.S., are on the witness list when a B.C Supreme Court extradition hearing resumes. Paused at the end of October, the hearing now is expected to continue at least into early December.

Nov 13, 2020

National Defence has shut down a controversial plan that allowed military public affairs officers to use propaganda against Canadian citizens and data-mine the public’s social media accounts. Embraced by some, others warned the initiative could do serious harm to the military’s reputation. The shut down had the approval of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Chief of the Defence Staff General Vance, and Deputy Minister Jody Thomas.

Nov 13, 2020

The aerospace and security sectors are among 17 chosen by the British government for tighter regulation which would block foreign direct investment by potentially hostile interests. The measure is part of a National Security and Investment Bill designed to review mergers, acquisitions and other considered a threat to national security.

Nov 13, 2020

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order which bars investment in 31 companies his administration says are linked to China's military. It prohibits U.S. businesses and individuals from owning stock directly or indirectly and gives them until next November to divest.

Nov 13, 2020

Recent Russian military operations inside the U.S. economic management zone off Alaska were the latest in a series of escalated encounters across the North Pacific and the Arctic, where the retreat of polar ice continues to draw new commercial and military traffic. The local U.S. Coast Guard chief, RAdm Matthew T. Bell Jr., says that while Russian operations in the Bering Sea are not unusual, “the surprise was how aggressive they got on our side of the maritime boundary line.”

Nov 13, 2020

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino has announced a federal government program designed to help more Hong Kong residents to move to Canada as China cracks down on pro-democracy activities in the former British colony.

Nov 13, 2020

A western separatist movement, the Maverick Party, plans to model itself on the Bloc Québécois as it prepares for the next federal election. Its interim leader, former Reform and Conservative MP Jay Hill, says the BQ has been “very effective in representing the interests of their constituents.”

Nov 13, 2020

The International Atomic Energy Agency says its inspectors have confirmed that Iran has 2,442.9kg of low-enriched uranium, 12 times as much as permitted under a multinational agreement. Some of the material was discovered by IAEA inspectors at a previously undisclosed site.

Nov 13, 2020

Switzerland says that effective in 2022, bribes paid by companies to private individuals and money spent to facilitate crimes will no longer be tax-deductible. The government says the move, which would comply with OECD recommendations, would “harmonize” its tax and criminal laws.

Nov 13, 2020

The Conservatives want the House of Commons to take action against a former Liberal MP who now sits as an Independent after it was disclosed that she had broken parliamentary rules against hiring family members. Toronto-area MP Yasmin Ratansi had employed her sister as a constituency assistant since 2017.

Nov 12, 2020

Two days after it was declared the winner of the latest U.S. elections, president-elect Joe Biden’s embryonic administration announced a COVID-19 advisory board stacked with infectious diseases research and former public health officers. The speed of the announcement has the scientific and medical communities hopeful that the incoming government can do a better job than President Donald Trump’s lameduck administration of handling the pandemic which has killed nearly a quarter of a million Americans.

Nov 12, 2020

Benefits for unemployed Canadians as COVID-19 continues to spread are not designed to be permanent, the Prime Minister has pointed out. An initial support package paid out taxable benefits totalling $81.6 billion to some 8.9 million recipients and a follow-on program so far has paid out nearly $2.3 billion. “That's not a measure that we can automatically continue in a post- pandemic world,” the PM said. “There are really important reflections to have on how we provide income supports and how we make sure that everyone is given opportunities.”

Nov 12, 2020

Leaked recordings indicated that World Health Organization scientists have been frustrated by mistakes made by some of the organization’s main funding sources as the COVID-19 pandemic exploded. Central to the problem, and the scientists' unwillingness to go public, is that the WHO has no authority to investigate independently, relying instead on backchannelling and member states’ cooperation.

Nov 12, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expects a new trade deal to be completed with Britain before the end of this year. He said it should be relatively straightforward to manage even as the UK moves closer to an official exit from the European Union.

Nov 12, 2020

What appears to have been an accident during a routine helicopter flight in Egypt has resulted in the deaths of all but one of nine members of an international keeping mission. Six of seven U.S. members of the Multinational Force and Observers group died in the crash, as did French and Czech personnel.

Nov 11, 2020

Fully 67 per cent of Canadians evidently are open to the notion of curfews if the COVID-19 situation continues to deteriorate. However, the results of a national poll show that support for the idea varies by age, with young respondents the least receptive, while Quebec, Ontario and Alberta residents were less accepting of the idea than their counterparts elsewhere.

Nov 11, 2020

Provincial and municipal leaders are being urged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “do the right thing” to curb the spread COVID-19. Promising financial support if needed, he says he hopes no premiers or mayors were “easing public health vigilance because they feel pressure not to shut down businesses or slow down our economy” because “that’s how we end up with businesses going out of business and the economy damaged even more.”

Nov 10, 2020

The Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis contends that NATO has not done enough to motivate younger European leaders, going so far as to suggest the alliance’s very existence is at stake. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg seems to have taken the warning to heart, telling a youth summit in Brussels that “tomorrow’s leaders” need to “step up and safeguard your future, your freedom your alliance.”

Nov 10, 2020

It used to be that a “dry cell” was the type of battery used in many flashlights. Now it’s the name of a Correctional Service of Canada policy whereby prisoners suspected of having ingested or hidden contraband within their bodies are kept under constant supervision for days on end without access to a flushing toilet or running water. A former correctional investigator says the CSC should scrap the “demeaning, undignified and painful confinement.”

Nov 10, 2020

The government is launching a $1.75-billion Universal Broadband Fund to expand high-speed internet to rural and remote communities, fulfilling a commitment set out in its 2019 budget. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some of his cabinet say the delay was necessitated by having to ensure the funding process is less cumbersome and more relevant to communities.

Nov 10, 2020

The government is launching talks on support for the airline industry but Transport Minister Marc Garneau suggests it will be conditional on passengers getting refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID-19. “We are ready to establish a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance which could include loans and potentially other support to secure important results for Canadians,” he says.

Nov 10, 2020

In a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Canada Border Services Agency is emptying its detention centres and finding alternatives to securing refugee claimants and other detainees until they can be processed. Between April 2019 and March 2020, the CBSA detained 8,825 persons, including 138 minors, under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act but those numbers have since been reduced signifiantly.

Nov 10, 2020

In a policy reversal from President Donald Trump's administration, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is imploring Americans to wear a mask as the best way to turn around the COVID-19 pandemic. Warning that the U.S. faces a “very dark winter" with the “worst wave” of the virus yet to come, he says Americans must rely on science.

Nov 10, 2020

The Chinese government is being accused by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service of routinely using officials and “trusted” proxies to try to muzzle members of Canada’s Chinese community who might criticize China’s leadership. CSIS says threats against families still in China are part of a global campaign of intimidation that threatens national sovereignty.

Nov 09, 2020

President Donald Trump has fired Mark Esper as U.S. Secretary of Defense, replacing him in an acting capacity by Christopher Miller, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Trump offered no explanation in his social media announcement but Esper has been at odds with the President for several months on the proposed use of troops for law enforcement.

Nov 06, 2020

A widespread public outcry and high-level political intervention has resulted in Whole Foods, a national chain of 14 grocery stores owned by Amazon, reversing a ban on staff wearing Remembrance Day poppies.

Nov 06, 2020

An EU economic blacklist of Belarus officials has been expanded to include President Alexander Lukashenko and his son Victor, a national security analyst, as well as the head of the secret police and the president’s chief of staff. The EU disputes Lukashenko’s claim to have fairly won reelection in August and deplores his crackdown on opponents.

Nov 06, 2020

Whole Foods, a national chain of 14 grocery stores owned by Amazon, has told staff they cannot wear Remembrance Day poppies. Recently-updated uniform policy evidently implies that wearing the Royal Canadian Legion poppy is “supporting a cause.”

Nov 04, 2020

No decisive winner in the U.S. presidential election is evident despite President Donald Trump’s insistence, while awaiting final counting of mailed ballots, that the incumbent Republicans had “already won it.” He also repeated his unsubstantiated claim that there would be “fraud” and that the Republican-dominated Supreme Court likely would have to intervene.

Nov 04, 2020

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, is recommending triple-layer non-medical masks, with a central filter layer, as the preferred protection against COVID-19. “We're not necessarily saying just throw out everything that you have,” Dr. Theresa Tam says, explaining that her latest advice reflects updated World Health Organization recommendations.

Nov 04, 2020

Sixteen U.S. departments and agencies, including the FBI and the Commerce Department, are the target of 16 freedom-in-information lawsuits filed by China's Huawei technology giant in a bid to force the release of documents the company believes could reveal political motivations behind the arrest in Vancouver of its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, two years ago. The U.S. wants Meng extradicted.

Nov 04, 2020

Three years after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would pull his country out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the withdrawal delayed by UN regulation is finally effective.

Nov 03, 2020

Be sure to check out the Senate of Canada building during Remembrance Week. The old train station, which once welcomed soldiers returning from war, will be illuminated every night with images of red poppies to honour those who lost their lives in war. 

Nov 03, 2020

Convicted in October 2019 for his part in the scam orchestrated by cyber criminals in China, which targeted the City of Ottawa’s treasurer and convinced her to send $128,000 to a fictitious U.S. firm two years ago, Elvin Lewis Jr., 54, has asked a judge to release him while he awaits sentencing. Claiming he is not a flight risk, he cited COVID-19 risk in his affidavit to be released. 

Nov 03, 2020

The Canadian Forces has spent more than $1 million to train its operatives on "behaviour modification" techniques for use in Canada. Examples include the mission to manage public perception surrounding Op Laser (COVID response) and the more bizarre mission that had our military creating and disseminating fake news and forged letters to warn the Nova Scotia public that wolves were causing problems in the province (which was untrue).

Nov 03, 2020

The RCMP plans to update training on how to de-escalate confrontations and to counter internal racism. “I’ve been listening; I’ve been learning,” Commissioner Brend Lucki told a parliamentary committee Nov. 2. The RCMP, which provides contract policing services in many provinces and the northern territories, has been under intense scrutiny in recent months.

Nov 02, 2020

Criticism that government guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic has been confusing has prompted Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, to explain that the advice has had to evolve alongside the science. Meanwhile, she says, “public health has always had key messages that were exactly the same.” These included social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and wearing masks.

Nov 02, 2020

The British government’s latest COVID-19 lockdown is officially due to end in a month but a member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet isn’t discounting the prospect of an extension. Michael Gove says it is his “fervent hope” the latest initiative would end as hoped but that government would be “obviously guided by the facts.”

Nov 02, 2020

Citing “protests and demonstrations” in several U.S. cities, Australia is advising its citizens to avoid travelling to the U.S. However, if travel is necessary, it urges them to “avoid areas where protests are occurring due to the ongoing potential for violence” and to stay in touch with their embassy.

Oct 30, 2020

The B.C. Supreme Court judge hearing the case against Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive facing extradition to the U.S., has agreed to consider defence counsel arguments that the U.S. has misled Canada by omitting key elements of the case. Noting that a stay of proceedings is possible if Meng’s lawyers succeed, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said Oct. 29 that there is an “air of reality to Ms. Meng's allegations of abuse of process in relation to the requesting state's conduct.”

Oct 30, 2020

The U.S. is not ruling out further sanctions against Turkey if it makes its Russian anti-aircraft missile system fully operational. “Sanctions is very much something that is on the table,” says Assistant Secretary of State R. Clarke Cooper. “Operationalizing such an asset . . . incurs further risk of sanctions and further risks of restrictions.”

Oct 30, 2020

Rather deploying to Antarctica to support an annual resupply mission to the U.S. research stations, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star will be in the Arctic this winter in what the USCG says is a mission to protect maritime sovereignty and security. “The Arctic is . . . a region of growing national importance,” says VAdm Linda Fagan, commander of USCG Pacific.

Oct 29, 2020

During the televised news conference after a virtual EU-Canada Leaders Meeting, Prime Minister Trudeau condemned the recent terror attacks in France. "The criminals, terrorists, the cold-blooded murderers who perpetrated these attacks do not represent Islam. They do not get to define Muslims in Canada, in France, or anywhere around the world.

Oct 29, 2020

A knife-wielding attacker shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) beheaded a woman and killed two other people in what French officials described as a terrorist act at a church in the French city of Nice this morning. Within hours of the Nice attack, police killed a man who had been shouting "Allahu Akbar" and threatening passersby with a handgun near the southern French city of Avignon. Also on the same day, an Afghan national trying to board a tram with a 30cm knife was arrested in the southeastern French city of Lyon.

Oct 29, 2020

Three Brockville police officers have received a departmental commendation for their calm professionalism in coordinating a multi-point safety response while coaxing a suicidal woman down from her perch on a railway overpass.

Oct 29, 2020

The on-again off-again search for Jordan Naterer, who was headed out for a solo overnight hike along the Frosty Mountain Trail southeast of Hope, BC, has been called off again. Naterer was reported missing on October 10th, and his Newfoundland family is continuing the search with their own funds. 

Oct 29, 2020

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says fiscal stimulus and deficit spending are necessary to sustain the economy through the “coronavirus recession” and would be cut back only after widespread vaccination reins in COVID-19. She says “we have a moral imperative, but also a hard economic imperative … to provide our people and our businesses with a bridge to get through to the other side.”

Oct 29, 2020

The Bank of Canada plans to maintain its benchmark interest rate at 0.25 per cent at least until inflation returns to two per cent, which it says isn't likely until 2023. It also expects the Canadian economy to shrink by 5.7 per cent this year before beginning a slow rebound.

Oct 29, 2020

Australian research has identified 41 elections and seven referenda in which cyber-enabled foreign interference has been reported over the past decade, including an uptick since 2017. “Digitisation of election functions has dramatically widened the attack surface available to those who seek to disrupt democracy,” it says. “This has in large part been facilitated by the pervasive and persistent growth of social media and networking platforms.”

Oct 29, 2020

Faced with a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in many regions, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a second national lockdown until at least the end of November. Effective Oct. 30, most persons will be permitted to leave their homes only for essential work or medical reasons.

Oct 28, 2020

In a violation of U.S. election law, a member of the Canadian Senate, Lynn Beyak, donated to the Republican National Committee earlier this year, a move her office says was an “error”. Officially a resident of Dryden, Ont., she provided an address in New York on the donation form.

Oct 28, 2020

A class-action lawsuit filed against Facebook by two Calgary residents will seek $1,000 damages each on behalf of more than 600,000 other Canadians whose personal data may have been improperly used for political purposes. The suit also asks the Federal Court to order the social-media giant to bolster its security practices.

Oct 27, 2020

Veterinarians have started to detect leishmania in Canadian and U.S. dogs. This dangerous parasite can cause a flesh-eating disease in both animals and humans. Some forms of the disease can lead to severe disfigurement or even death. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are affected every year, but the parasite has largely remained out of North America, until now. The disease has been detected in dogs in 2 provinces and 18 states so far.

Oct 27, 2020

The Federal Court of Appeal has granted a request from the federal government to temporarily suspend a lower court’s decision that would have scrapped the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States at the end of January. By accepting the government’s application, the court is maintaining the status quo at the border, meaning asylum seekers will still be sent back to the U.S.

Oct 27, 2020

With NDP and Bloc Québécois support, the Conservatives succeeded in giving the House of Commons health committee a mandate to investigate the federal government's COVID-19 pandemic response. A motion approved by a vote of 176 to 152 authorizes the committee to call on the Liberals to disclose documents and to have key ministers testify.

Oct 27, 2020

Two Toronto federal constituencies remain in Liberal hands after Oct. 26 byelections. Toronto Centre candidate Marci Ien captured 42 per cent of the vote while, in York Centre, Ya'ara Saks won with 45.7 cent of the vote. The Liberals had captured more than 50 per cent of the vote in each riding in the 2019 general election.

Oct 27, 2020

Two Toronto federal constituencies remain in Liberal hands after Oct. 26 byelections. Toronto Centre candidate Marci Ien captured 42 per cent of the vote while, in York Centre, Ya'ara Saks won with 45.7 cent of the vote. The Liberals had captured more than 50 per cent of the vote in each riding in the 2019 general election.

Oct 27, 2020

B.C. Premier John Horgan evidently is on track to a legislative majority after an Oct. 24 general. He had a 41-seat minority government in the 87-seat legislature but indications are that his New Democratic Party would capture 55 seats in the latest vote once mailed ballots had been counted.

Oct 27, 2020

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has acknowledged that it uses a commercial database to track persons in the U.S. without legal warrants. Several Senators say the arm of the Department of Homeland Security has refused to provide legal justification.

Oct 27, 2020

The Chinese foreign ministry is planning to impose sanctions on Boeing’s defence division?, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and “revelevant American individuals” for supplying weapons to Taiwan. However, a ministry spokesman gave no further details.

Oct 27, 2020

A pledge by French President Emmanuel Macron to defend his country’s state secularism has prompted his Turkish counterpart, to call for a boycott of French products over what he considers “oppression against Muslims.” The interaction between the two NATO members follows the murder of a teacher in retaliation for his displaying contentious cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. 

Oct 26, 2020

The Angus Reid Institute says a new national poll indicates that nearly 40 per cent of Canadians believe there is a “serious problem” with how police interact with non-white people. However, calls in some communities to “defund” police are not widely endorsed.

Oct 26, 2020

A retired U.S. career diplomat says that Secretary of Statre mike Pompeo and his immediate predecessor, Rex Tillerson, have undermined and ultimately “weaponized the institution for the Trump administration’s domestic political objectives.”

Oct 26, 2020

A federal pilot program in Alberta will assess the feasibility of using rigorous COVID-19 testing and monitoring of visitors to reduce the legal requirement for 14-day quarantining. Beginning next week, the program will apply at the Coutts land border crossing with Montana and at Calgary International Airport.

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