In the News

May 25, 2021

European leaders have agreed unanimously to toughen sanctions on Belarus and to bar European Union airlines from flying over the country’s airspace after Belarusian authorities used a Mig-29 fighter jet to force a Ryanair flight to land in Belarus so that a dissident journalist could be arrested. The May 23 flight to Vilnius from Athens was diverted to Minsk on the orders of President Alexander Lukashenko.

May 25, 2021

The U.S. territory of Guam in the Western Pacific has been cleared by the Supreme Court to pursue a $160-million lawsuit against Washington over the cost of cleaning up a landfill dating to the 1940s. The court was unanimous in its May 24 ruling, which overturned a lower court’s decision that Guam had waited too long to pursue the claim.

May 25, 2021

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is frustrated by what he says is the U.S. administration’s blockage of attempts to have his province secure surplus COVID-19 vaccines from North Dakota. He said he and the state’s governor had been working on a plan but that it was “kiboshed” by the White House.

May 25, 2021

The decades-long dispute over Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S. is heating up yet again as a protectionist lobby there insist that imports are unfairly subsidized. The U.S. has repeatedly lost when the issue is presented for arbitration and the B.C. Lumber Trade Council points out that the latest move to more than double duties affects U.S. housing costs.

May 25, 2021

Canada has extended its ban on all direct commercial and private flights from India and Pakistan until at least June 21 as COVID-19 variants continue to surge there. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra also says travellers coming indirectly must have a negative test result at their last departure point.

May 25, 2021

A Ryanair flight to Lithuania from Greece was forced to divert to Belarus ostensibly because of a bomb threat. However, the fact that no device was found and a prominent critic of Belarus’ authoritarian president was arrested on arrival suggest that it was strictly a political ploy.

May 25, 2021

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo says he expects the other G7 countries will support a White House proposal for a global minimum corporate tax. “My sense is that you're going to see a lot of unified support amongst the G7,” he said May 24, citing responses from France, Germany, Italy and Japan ahead of a ministerial meeting.

May 25, 2021

Two Canadian researchers warn that new constellations of thousands of small communications satellites pose a growing hazard in low earth orbit, threatening other satellites, astronauts and possibly even the planet’s climate.

May 21, 2021

The burgeoning biometrics sector is being invited by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security showcase their capabilities to government and industry, mainly to contribute to DHS-led research aimed at enhancing verification. “We have seen tremendous innovation from the biometrics industry to adapt to new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic,” a DHS official says. “It’s time to see if further innovation and improvement can be achieved to further reduce errors and provide more consistent and equitable performance.”

May 21, 2021

A ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Hamas militant group went into effect early today after 11 days of intense cross-border attacks which left more than 250 dead, mostly Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Both sides have claimed victory.

May 20, 2021

The European Union agreed May 19 to open its borders to vaccinated leisure and business travellers from many countries after more than a year in which travel has been severely restricted in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. When borders would open is unclear but European Commission officials suggested it could be imminent.

May 20, 2021

The U.S. has lifted sanctions imposed by the previous administration on a company building a natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany as well as parallel sanctions imposed on the company’s chief executive officer, a former East German intelligence operative allied with President Vladimir Putin. The State Department confirmed the decision in a report to Congress, explaining that it is in the U.S. national interest.

May 20, 2021

It has been disclosed that 37 companies in the U.S. defence industrial base were affected by the Solarwinds cyberattack last year. RAdm William Chase III, deputy principal cyber adviser to the Secretary of Defense, set out the details May 18 during an appearance before a congressional subcommittee.

May 19, 2021

A day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned the West against making territorial claims in the Arctic, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said May 18 that the global community should avoid militarizing the region. “We've seen Russia advance unlawful maritime claims . . . which are inconsistent with international law,” Blinken said ahead of an Arctic Council ministerial meeting. Lavrov had said “it has been absolutely clear for everyone for a long time that this is our territory, this is our land” and “we are responsible for ensuring our Arctic coast is safe.”

May 19, 2021

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is suing RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, arguing that her slow response to public complaints undermines police accountability. The federal government has countered that the case should be tossed even though Public Safety Minister Bill Blair supports legislated deadlines for responses.

May 19, 2021

Despite having to abandon its prosecution of University of Ottawa professor Hassan Diab last January due to a demonstrable lack of evidence, the French court system is trying again to put him on trial on for his alleged involvement of a synagogue bombing in Paris in 1980. The court of cassation, France’s highest court of appeal, overturned the lower court’s ruling today in a ruling his Ottawa lawyer called a “travesty of justice” due to political pressure. Arrested by the RCMP in November 2008 and held until his extradition in 2014, he spent more than three years in prison in France before the case collapsed.

May 19, 2021

The current closure of the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel is set to expire in a few days and it’s reported that restrictions will remain in effect until at least June 21.

May 18, 2021

A $200-million investment in enhanced vaccine production in Ontario was announced today by the federal government. Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Mississauga-based Resilience Biotechnologies will use the funding to expand its current facility to provide “made-in-Canada solutions such as vaccines and treatments for future pandemics.”

May 18, 2021

On 20 May, at the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Reykjavik and online, the two-year Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council will end and the Russian Federation will take over for the 2021-2023 years.

May 18, 2021

Army logistics expert BGen Krista Brodie is the Public Health Agency of Canada’s new head of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. A veteran of deployments to Croatia, Bosnia, and Afghanistan, she initially was seconded to PHAC last November as part of a 30-member military team. Brodie replaces MGen Deny Fortin, who has been sidelined pending an investigation into unproven sexual assault allegations.

May 17, 2021

Results of a national opinion poll published today indicate that with more than 50 per cent of Canadian adults having received at least an initial COVID-19 vaccination, there has been a significant shift away from skepticism. The Angus Reid Institute also notes that the number of respondents still unwilling to be vaccinated has been trending down.

May 14, 2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people fully-vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to participate in many outdoors and indoor activities, albeit with specific exemptions, but Canada’s deputy public health officer, Dr. Howafd Njoo, says Canada is not about to follow suit for now. “We have more of what I'd call a collective or community approach,” he said May 13. “It's not about what an individual should be able to do with one or two doses.”

May 14, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been cleared by Federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion of wrongdoing in last summer's WE Charity scandal but his former Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, who had close ties with the charity’s founder, was found to have breached the Conflict of Interest Act “on several occasions” by failing recuse himself from cabinet deliberations.

May 14, 2021

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says his country is ready to play a role in “stability and development in Afghanistan once foreign troops from have been withdrawn. This was after one of his officials had said the “abrupt” U.S. announcement of U.S troops withdrawals had “led to a succession of explosive attacks throughout the country, worsening the security situation and threatening peace and stability as well as people's life and safety.”

May 14, 2021

A renewed call May 13 by Ontario Premier Doug Ford for the federal government to further limit travel into and across Canada was almost immediately rebuffed by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. “I would encourage the premier to look at his data, listen to his health experts and let's act on the facts,” the federal minister said, describing Ford’s call as “an effort to deflect and distract from a very serious concern that everyone has in Ontario.”

May 14, 2021

More than four decades after it legislated contentious French-language requirements, the Quebec government is proposing more reforms which would affect businesses, students, immigrants and others. “This bill affirms that the only official language in Quebec is French,” said the minister responsible for languages when tabling Bill 96 May 14.

May 13, 2021

Crews and passengers on hundreds of private aircraft of all types arriving from outside Canada reportedly are avoiding federal quarantine rules. Analysis of two months of data by Flight Aware disclosed that 884 flights to a random sample of nine airports other than the four international hubs designated for foreign arrivals by the federal government.

May 13, 2021

Proposed reforms of federal law governing private sector privacy, ostensibly to give Canadians more control over how companies handle their personal information online, have received a failing grade from Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien. He says that the current draft “would be a step back overall because the provisions meant to give individuals more control give them less.”

May 13, 2021

The company that operates the largest U.S. pipeline network, Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, begun to restart operations May 12, nearly a week after a ransomware attack prompted a shutdown. The loss of 2.5 million barrels of daily capacity caused fuel shortages and panic buying in the southeastern U.S.

May 13, 2021

Shortly after ransomware prompted a precautionary shutdown of Colonial Pipeline operations in the eastern U.S., the White House issued an executive order designed to change how companies manage and report cybersecurity incidents. A senior official said May 12 that the status quo was “unacceptable.” The order also invalidates contractual obligations that can make IT providers hesitant to share information about network breaches with the government.

May 13, 2021

With the world “at the precipice of . . . the quantum revolution,” an Australian think-tank says countries which master the technology “will dominate the information processing space for decades and perhaps centuries to come.” It says this would enable them to influence and even control key industrial sectors as well as national security and intelligence.

May 12, 2021

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service had recommended revocation of two researchers’ security clearances long before they were fired from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. The agency’s concerned related to communications that Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, had with the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, including the transfer of intellectual property.

May 12, 2021

The lawyer for Ottawa sociology professor Hassan Diab says the Canadian government should not be part of any further wrongful extradition of Hassan Diab regardless of the outcome of a looming French Supreme Court ruling. Diab had already spent 3 years behind bars while prosecutors tried to find evidence against him. In 2018, French judges dismissed the allegations against him for lack of evidence and ordered his immediate release. That ruling is being appealed and, if successful, they are looking to extradite him for another court process. Canada has offered a feeble pledge of support.

May 12, 2021

Finland’s military attaché at its embassy in Washington, Col Petteri Seppala, says the Arctic Forum established by Canada and seven other northern nations in 1996 is “too limited” in scope to address defence concerns, and is constrained by its historical focus on science, environmental issues and economic development. He aired his concerns at a May 7 online forum on Arctic security organized by the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan think-tank in Washington.

May 12, 2021

A U.S. report estimates that nearly two-thirds of businesses globally, including 63 per cent in Canada, have seen an increase in targeted cyberattacks since switching to widespread remote work. The report by California-based Proofpoint is based on a first-quarter survey of 1,400 chief information security officers in 14 countries. More than half of the Canadian respondents cited human error as the main vulnerability, including the use of unauthorized devices or software, as well as weak passwords.

May 12, 2021

A report requested by the World Health Organization has concluded that a “toxic cocktail” of dithering and poor coordination meant early COVID-19 pandemic indications were not acted on. The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said today that early responses “lacked urgency,” institutions “failed to protect people” and science-denying leaders eroded public trust.

May 12, 2021

Twelve years after 228 persons died when an Airbus A330 crashed into the Atlantic on a flight to France from Brazil, a Paris court has ruled that Air France and the manufacturer should be tried for involuntary manslaughter. Investigators concluded that the pilots lost control when airspeed sensors froze. The carrier and the company plan a further appeal.

May 11, 2021

The National Rifle Association’s attempt to use bankruptcy as protection against a New York regulatory action involving alleged corruption within the organization was dismissed today by a federal court judge in Texas. The judge did not believe the bankruptcy courts were meant to be used in such cases and was troubled in the secretive nature of the bankruptcy filing.

May 11, 2021

The manager of three Canadian Security Intelligence Service teams says he was taken aback by his superiors’ dismissal of recommendation that masking against the possible spread of COVID0-19 should be mandatory at CSIS headquarters in Ottawa. Gary Vos Smith also says he was told that by continuing to challenge the policy that masks were optional, he was not fulling his duties.

May 11, 2021

The World Health Organization says the COVID-19 variant first found in India last year is an issue of “global concern” because studies indicate it can be spread more easily than others. Variants from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil have been similarly designated.

May 10, 2021

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki apparently is failing on her commitment 17 months ago to respond within six-months to public complaints filed with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. The CBC reports that she has not responded to any complaints within that time frame.

May 10, 2021

Much of the Vancouver International Airport precinct and adjacent suburbs were essentially shut down for a while May 9 as police handled what was believed to be a gang-related killing outside the main terminal. The suspects in the shooting managed to evade police pursuit and their getaway vehicle was later found burned 28km from the crime scene.

May 10, 2021

Four days into a shutdown of nearly half of the U.S. east coast petroleum supply due to a ransomware cyberattack, the federal government and Colonial Pipeline were still working today to secure the network. The has disrupted fuel supply, triggering retail sales restrictions and pusheing benchmark gasoline prices to a three-year high

May 07, 2021

A senior House of Representatives Democrat from New York state is pressing the Biden administration to come up with a detailed plan as soon as possible for the resumption of non-essential travel to and from Canada. Chuck Shumer also wants the definition of currently-exempt essential travellers amended to include vaccinated persons who have property, educational, medical or business reasons for crossing the border.

May 07, 2021

The government has restarted the contract for two new Coast Guard icebreakers. The largest ships in the Coast Guard fleet, they will play a critical role in enabling the Canadian Coast Guard to patrol and protect Canada's 243,000 km of coastline.

May 06, 2021

The common law spouse of the man responsible for killing 22 people in April 2020 in Nova Scotia is pleading not guilty to charges she illegally provided him ammunition.

May 06, 2021

In a 12,400-page communique at the end of their two-day summit in London, foreign ministers from Canada and the other G-7 countries included an anodyne critique of China and Russia, both of which rejected the characterizations. Potentially setting the tone for a G-7 leaders meeting in June, they reiterated concerns about Beijing’s human rights record and expansionism and Moscow’s aggression in eastern Europe.

May 05, 2021

Chinese President Xi Jinping would be making “a very serious mistake” if he ordered an invasion of Taiwan, says U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We are committed to making sure that Taiwan has the means to defend itself,” he says. “That commitment is not going away. And at the same time, I think it would be a very serious mistake for anyone to try to disrupt by force the existing status quo.”

May 05, 2021

Federal authorities have fined hundreds of Canadian air passengers who have refused hotel quarantine on arrival. The Public Health Agency of Canada says it is “aware” of 513 passengers being ticketed since late February.

May 05, 2021

Assadolah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat sentenced to 20 years in Belgium for planning a bomb attack in France in 2018, has abandoned an appeal. Judges had ruled that diplomatic immunity as third counsellor at Iran's embassy in Austria did not protect him against charges of using the post for state-sponsored terrorism.

May 05, 2021

Luiz Henrique Mandetta, fired last month as Brazil’s health minister, says President Jair Bolsonaro ignored repeated warnings that his approach to COVID-19 could cause the health system to collapse. “I warned Bolsonaro systematically of the consequences of not adopting the recommendations of science,” he told a Senate commission investigating the government’s handling of the pandemic.

May 05, 2021

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been unable to form a new government by a midnight May 4 deadline after the fourth general election in two year. His Likud Party was left well short of a parliamentary majority and his far-right allies evidently have refused to join a government supported by a small Islamist Arab party.

May 05, 2021

Nine more individuals, including two from Turkey’s main procurement agency, have been charged in an ongoing industrial espionage case. Others include active and retired military personnel and three persons in the private sector. The government detained 33 other individuals in January and March.

May 03, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin could be meeting in a third country this summer. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says Biden “believes that such a summit would be valuable in establishing better understandings between our two countries and the possibility of getting this relationship on a more stable, predictable path.”

May 03, 2021

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau is in London for a meeting with his counterparts from the other G-7 countries: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. It is their first in-person meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

May 03, 2021

Having been officially designed a terrorist entity, right-wing Proud Boys Canada has dissolved while continuing to reject the government’s characterization. The decision was announced by its U.S. parent organization.

Apr 30, 2021

The constitutionality of Ontario’s COVID-19 public health orders, particularly expanded law enforcement powers, is being challenged by 19 active and retired police officers who have filed a notice of application with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. “Many of these regulations are not specific enough, they’re too vague and broad and aren’t clear enough to enforce uniformly,” their lawyer said April 29. “Many of these COVID measures force these officers to breach . . . an oath that includes upholding the constitution.”

Apr 30, 2021

There is a growing body of complaints about Chinese Communist Party efforts to “influence” Canadian business, academic and political circles. “The threat from espionage and foreign interference is significant and continues to grow,” says the latest annual report by the Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), chaired by Ottawa Liberal MP David McGuinty. “Intelligence shows that China and Russia remain the primary culprits.”

Apr 29, 2021

The RCMP says it is considering revisions to its entrance exam in an attempt to address cultural biases and “outdated criteria.” Dealing with what has been described as racism and a “toxic culture” in its ranks, it has posted a tender for a contractor to provide screening services.

Apr 29, 2021

Draft federal back-to-work legislation against striking Port of Montreal workers faces opposition from the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “The union will contest the validity” of Bill C-19, a spokesman said, explaining that it had lodged a complaint with the International Labour Organization. The Official Opposition voted with the government today, setting up for Senate consideration April 30.

Apr 29, 2021

Two Ontario politicians are expected to appear in court in June to face charges of non-compliance with COVID-19 restrictions. Federal MP Derek Sloan and Randy Hillier, a member of the provincial legislature, were charged along with eight other persons who attended a service at a church which also has been charged as a corporation.

Apr 28, 2021

More than 2000 travellers landing in Canada have tested positive for COVID-19 variants. Between 22 February and 22 April, 518 international air travellers tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK. There are currently almost 95,000 confirmed cases of this variant in Canada.

Apr 27, 2021

Up to three Canadian Armed Forces medical teams will be deployed in Ontario to support hospitals overwhelmed by the latest COVID-19 wave. The federal government confirmed the decision April 28 at the request of the province and it’s understood the military is prepared to ferry civilian medical help volunteered by other provinces.

Apr 27, 2021

A New York limit on carrying firearms in public is set to be tested in the U.S. Supreme Court. The court, now with a conservative majority, has refused several similar challenges since 2008 when it established individuals’ rights to keep guns at home for self-defence in the District of Columbia.

Apr 27, 2021

The House of Commons Heritage committee wants federal regulate video content on social media platforms in the same way it controls national broadcasting standards. Critics say the initiative is tantamount to an attack on constitutionally-protected freedom of expression.

Apr 27, 2021

Israel’s government has been accused by Washington-based Human Rights Watch of apartheid-style persecution of Palestinians, displaying “an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied Palestinians territory.” Israel’s foreign ministry immediately slammed the report, says that HRW “is known to have a long-standing anti-Israeli agenda.”

Apr 26, 2021

Federal Labour Minister Filemena Tassi has indicated a readiness to legislate an end to a strike by members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees at the Port of Montreal which began today, halting operations and threatening the supply chain of thousands of businesses. The union says its members, who have been without a contract since 2018, opted to strike for the second time in eight months because the when Maritime Employers Association arbitrarily extended the workday.

Apr 26, 2021

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has disclosed in a recorded interview that his country’s diplomatic priorities have been “sacrificed” to the agenda of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The leaked portion of the lengthy interview has stirred debate ahead of the country’s presidential elections in June.

Apr 26, 2021

Eighteen years after a Palestinian man was captured in Pakistan and detained in Guantanamo after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether he can access information classified documents. Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn and his lawyer want to question two former CIA contractors about a secret facility in Poland where they say Zubaydah was held and tortured.

Apr 26, 2021

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi says U.S. political rhetoric and policies will cause global chaos. Firing a diplomatic but politically one-sided broadside during a virtual Council on Foreign Relations, he insisted that his country “is committed to . . . peaceful coexistence.”

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