In the News

Apr 14, 2020

The espionage trial in Moscow of a former US Marine, Paul Whelan, has begun behind closed doors more than a year after he was arrested. Prosecutors say he was in possession of state secrets stored in a thumb drive which Whelan says was planted by a former friend. Whelan also holds British, Canadian and Irish citizenship.

Apr 14, 2020

Concerns about the security of Zoom, the popular videoconferencing app, has prompted the U.S. Department of Defense to declare it off-limits to personnel for any official use. The FBI recently reported that the app had seen an increase in uninvited participants.

Apr 13, 2020

A recent meeting of NATO foreign ministers to discuss security issues, including the fallout from COVID-19, may be remembered more for its format than anything else, according to two senior members of the Washington-based Atlantic Council. They suggest the virtual meeting could enable the alliance to respond more rapidly to crises than traditional in-person gatherings.

Apr 13, 2020

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is balking at a proposed multinational accord to reduce crude oil production in the hope of reversing a steep global price decline. López Obrador is concerned that agreeing to lower output would compromise his plan to revive Mexico’s national oil company.

Apr 11, 2020

A $73-billion economic subsidy program designed to help businesses and employees to cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic was approved 11 April in an emergency sitting of Parliament. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said funds would be available within two to five weeks.

Apr 11, 2020

The head of the World Health Organizagion says that lifting COVID-19 restrictions too early could result in a “deadly resurgence” of the virus which has now killed more than 100,000 worldwide. Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that while there is a “welcome slowing” of the pandemic in parts of Europe and the WHO is working on easement strategies, “the way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly.”

Apr 10, 2020

The federal government has opted against immediate use of the sweeping powers provided for in the Emergency Act to address the COVID-19 situation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed this after a teleconference with his provincial and territorial counterparts and says the 1988 replacement for the even more authoritarian War Measures Act remains a last resort for Ottawa.

Apr 10, 2020

The House of Commons and Senate have been recalled for an 11 April sitting to discuss the government’s plan to expand a wage subsidy program. Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez requesting the sitting after coming to an agreement with the opposition parties.

Apr 10, 2020

Canadian Forces Intelligence Command is reported to have begun generating warnings about COVID-19 in early January. CFIC's medical intelligence cell is mandated to track global health developments with a view to predicting, with the assistance of the Five Eyes intelligence community, implications for military operations. It also was reported earlier this week that the cell’s U.S. counterpart had been tracking the initial Chinese outbreak as early as last November.

Apr 10, 2020

An early response to Canada's COVID-19 outbreak would have done more harm than good, says Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association. He told a virtual meeting of Members of Parliament that there would have been “very little” public support for lockdowns and social-distancing in January and that would have undermined health officials’ efforts when the situation became more dire.

Apr 10, 2020

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies in the so-called OPEC+ group of smaller producers have agreed to cut output by some 10 million barrels a day in May and June in an attempt to counter the price slump which began in March. The cuts are supposed to be eased later in the year and into 2021.

Apr 10, 2020

A former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund says western economies took the COVID-19 threat “a little more lightly” than Asian economies. Raghuram Rajan, now a finance professor at the University of Chicago, says this was partly due to there not having been “direct experience of a serious epidemic” and the perception that such outbreaks happen in “faraway lands.”

Apr 10, 2020

A UN-lead coalition is warning that global financial volatility and resulting market losses could precipitate a new international debt crisis. The Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development points out that investors have moved the equivalent of US$90 billion out of emerging markets since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the largest outflow on record. It is calling for a globally coordinated stimulus package, including reversing the decline in aid and immediate suspension of debt repayment by poorer countries.

Apr 10, 2020

The International Monetary Fund has been asked by Iran to approve a $5-billion loan to support its fight against COVID-19, The U.S. is understood to be opposed because Iran has sufficient internal funds, but President Hassan Rouhani says “there should be no discrimination” in approving requests.

Apr 10, 2020

The International Monetary Fund has been asked by Iran to approve a $5-billion loan to support its fight against COVID-19, The U.S. is understood to be opposed because Iran has sufficient internal funds, but President Hassan Rouhani says “there should be no discrimination” in approving requests.

Apr 09, 2020

Faced with growing pressure to take control of critical medical supplies and equipment in the fight against COVID-19, the federal government is seeking provincial and territorial feedback on possible invocation of the 1988 Emergencies Act. Among other things, it would give Ottawa the authority to redirect supplies to pandemic hot spots across the country.

Apr 09, 2020

A €500-billion ($750 billion) economic support package for European Union states hit hardest by COVID-19 has been agreed to by EU finance ministers after often fractious marathon talks in Brussels. However, they did not accede to a demand by France and Italy to have other states share the cost of the crisis by issuing “coronabonds.” The package also includes €200 billion ($300 billion) in guarantees from the European Investment Bank and a European Commission project for national short-time working schemes.

Apr 09, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, having tested positive for COVID-19, was removed from intensive care 09 April but remains in a London hospital.

Apr 09, 2020

The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear an appeal involving Quebec’s ban on the wearing of religious. Civil rights had sought leave to challenge a provincial appeal court had dismissed a request to suspend parts of the law pending a ruling on its constitutionality. As usual, the high court did not give a reason for its April 09 decision.

Apr 09, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 09 April that while his government hopes to begin economic recovery efforts once the first COVID-19 wave has passed, possibly by summer, it could be a year or more before all restrictions on public activities are removed. He said this essentially would reflect the time it takes for development of a vaccine.

Apr 09, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended nearly a month of self-isolation by arriving on Parliament Hill 08 April for his first live cabinet meeting since his wife tested positive for COVID-19 after attending an event in Britain. He told reporters that the government is keeping current mitigation measures in place “for many more weeks” to give authorities time to consider how to reboot the economy without causing more problems.

Apr 09, 2020

Far-right groups across North America are reported to be trying to spread disinformation about COVID-19, including trying to derail informed discussion of the pandemic. A virtual town hall meeting in Vancouver evidently was among the most recent targets. Barbara Perry, director of the Centre of Hate, Bias and Extremism at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, says “there's nothing the far right likes more . . . than a crisis.”

Apr 09, 2020

A suggestion by President Donald Trump that the U.S. might review its support for the World Health Organization has drawn sharp criticism from its director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The U.S. contributed more than $400 million last year, about 15 per cent of the WHO budget and Trump evidently was responding to a WHO suggestion that he had given bad advice about COVID-19. The WHO head now wants unity and an end to “polititization” of the global health crisis.

Apr 09, 2020

U.S. agencies evidently face logistical problems on their networks as more government workers most work from home because of COVID-19. Enforcement of security and policy standards, many mandated by law, are a particular challenge but the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has issued interim guidelines for coping with the government’s new realities.

Apr 09, 2020

Divisions within the European Union over how member states deal with COVID-19’s economic impact are seen by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as an existential threat to the EU. His warning comes as Italy and others press more fiscally-conservative member states to assume more debt through so-called “corona bonds.”

Apr 09, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin is pressing on with creating a domestic internet as his administration gives his internet and media regulator more authority to make that happen. One journalist notes that the communications ministry, which “used to be the only agency that opposed the most odious legislative initiatives to regulate the network," now will “toe the government line.”

Apr 08, 2020

Former Vice-President Joe Biden is now the presumptive Democratic Party nominee to challenge Donald Trump for the U.S. presidency in November. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race 08 April with no realistic path to the nomination after a series of lopsided losses to Biden in key state votes in the past couple of months.

Apr 08, 2020

The ongoing and politically-contentious scramble to secure personal protective equipment is giving procurement gurus a chance to say “I told you so.” Successive federal governments have been pressed to develop a list of strategic sectors not dependent on foreign suppliers but, as pointed out recently by Health Minister Patty Hajdu, the call has been essentially ignored. Now Alan Williams, a former Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel) at the Department of National Defence, is joining the debate, saying that “we've been totally negligent.”

Apr 08, 2020

Technical issues with a recent webinar have prompted the body tasked with implementing the U.S. Department of Defence’s cybersecurity certification to rethink its approach. The webinar ended abruptly 06 April before the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body could present content needed for the “national conversation.” The body’s chairman has confirmed that a restructured approach would be published “shortly.”

Apr 08, 2020

The increasingly popular Zoom videoconferencing application, already the focus of concerns about its security, has been banned from government operations in Taiwan. The decision was taken in response to some Zoom proceedings having been routed through China, which still considers Taiwan as a “rogue state” rather than an independent nation.

Apr 08, 2020

An unidentified Israeli has been indicted on charges of spying for Iran and conspiring with that country’s intelligence apparatus to recruit Israeli Arabs for terrorist attacks. Shin Bet says that when he was arrested in March, the man was in possession of an encryption device and that he had been in contact with a Lebanese member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Apr 07, 2020

The head of a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee overseeing U.S. COVID-19 relief funds is being ousted by President Donald Trump less than a week after he was appointed by an inter-agency group of officials. Glenn Fine, the acting Defense Department inspector general since before Trump took office in 2016, is being replaced by Sean O’Donnell, his counterpart at the Environmental Protection Agency. When he was at the Justice Department, Fine earned a reputation for independence in the aftermath of the September 2011 terrorist attacks.

Apr 07, 2020

After President Donald Trump railed on social media about Minnesota-based 3M exporting personal protective equipment to Canada and Latin America, the company has struck a deal with the White House that should resolve the issue. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 06 April that that Canada had been having problems for weeks with incomplete or non-delivery of COVID-19 countermeasures.

Apr 07, 2020

President Donald Trump has given a new committee 120 days to complete national security reviews of foreign telecommunications providers’ proposed operations within the U.S. The executive order issued 04 April comes as the Trump administration tries to balance national economic priorities against a crackdown on Chinese service providers considered security threats.

Apr 07, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care in a London hospital after his COVID-19 symptoms worsened. While he has received “oxygen support,” Johnson was not on a ventilator, and his Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is standing in.

Apr 07, 2020

As the federal government continues to weigh its options on 5G communications, the Chinese telecom giant Huawei has donated more than a million masks, 30,000 goggles and 50,000 pair of gloves to Canada’s COVID-19 campaign. This was after Health Minister Patty Hajdu had confirmed that chronic underfunding had left Canada’s stockpile of personal protective equipment ill-equipped to handle a pandemic.

Apr 07, 2020

At a time when tensions between Russia and its Arctic neighbours are increasing, its interests and ambitions in the region for at least the next 15 years are essentially unchanged. A new paper from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, comparing Russia’s latest policy framework with one published in 2008, indicates that the Arctic remains the main resource base for economic growth.

Apr 06, 2020

Police in Tunis are using at least one home-grown robot to ensure that residents of the Tunisian capital are complying with a COVID-19 lockdown. Developed by Enova Robotics and using thermal imaging and lidar, the four-wheeled unit enables monitoring personnel to ask pedestrians to present ID and other documents to justify their presence outdoors.

Apr 06, 2020

President Donald Trump has dismissed Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community who first alerted Congress last year to the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment trial. Trump told Congress 03 April that he had lost confidence in the official, who was appointed in May 2018, and who was immediately put on administrative leave until his dismissal became official in 30 days.

Apr 05, 2020

As the Canadian Armed Forces prepares to respond to requests for assistance from federal, provincial or municipal governments, local residents can expect to see military personnel and vehicles from on the roads as they travel to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden on Monday April 6, 2020.

Apr 02, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is “realistic” to expect that measures to control COVID-19 could remain in effect “for a number of more weeks, perhaps more months.” Government modelling suggests that a best-case scenario indicates that current measure continue “until at least July.” Trudeau says that while social distancing and self-isolation are effective, vigilance and more public cooperation are key to beating the pandemic.

Apr 02, 2020
Health Minister Patty Hajdu suggests that decades of government underfunding are responsible for a current shortage of emergency gear needed to combat COVID-19. Shortages of masks and other equipment have forced the government to try to secure supplies in a competitive global environment.
Apr 02, 2020

The U.S. was warned in 2017 that it lacked adequate medical supplies and bedspace to deal with a novel corona virus outbreak. The Department of Defense predicted in a report that “the most likely and significant threat is a novel respiratory disease” of a type common around the world.

Apr 01, 2020

The next UN climate change summit, scheduled for Glasgow, Scotland, in November, has been been postponed to sometime in 2021 due to concerns about the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was announced 01 April by British Business Minister Alok Sharma, who was to preside over the 26th annual gathering.

Apr 01, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants Parliament recalled again to deal with proposed legislation which would provide for additional financial support for Canadians and businesses economically impacted by COVID-19. Meanwhile, Finance Department officials expect the support to be available in three to six weeks.

Apr 01, 2020

Corrections Canada and the National Parole Board have been asked by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to consider early release of some inmates due to concerns about COVID-19 in crowded facilities. The potential health impact on prison staff also is a key consideration.

Apr 01, 2020

While NATO is not a humanitarian relief agency, Elisabeth Braw, who directs the Modern Deterrence program at the Royal United Services Institute in London, says it could play a key role in tacking the COVID-19. Although not the kind of “attack” foreseen in the alliance’s treaty, it is nonetheless the worst national security crisis to hit any of its member states. She suggests its “formidable” resources could play a pivotal role in not only dealing with this enemy while also proving NATO’s worth as a mutual defence alliance.

Apr 01, 2020

Hungary’s parliament has given Prime Minister Viktror Orban’s government the power to rule by decree for as long as the country’s COVID-19 state of emergency remains in effect. Among other things, the legislation provides for prison terms for spreading false information or interfering with efforts to contain the outbreak.

Mar 31, 2020

The growing uncertainty about the extent of the potential spread of COVID-19 has prompted the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries to cancel this year’s CANSEC trade show, scheduled for 27-28 May. CADSI President Christyn Cianfarani said 31 March the organization took the decision only after exploring “every possible option” with the City of Ottawa, the industry and contractors.

Mar 31, 2020

Former public safety minister Ralph Goodale has been appointed special adviser to the federal government as it continues to tackle Iran’s missile attack on a Ukrainian International Airlines flight in January. All 176 persons aboard, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 Canadian permanent residents died. “The families and loved ones of the victims deserve to know how and why it happened," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

Mar 31, 2020

A federal wage subsidy announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is designed to cover 75 per cent of wages and salaries, is being made available to all employers which can demonstrate sharp drops in revenues attributable to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the PM warned 30 March that while the program largely relies on an honour system for eligibility, there would be “serious consequences” for employers who try to “game” the program.

Mar 31, 2020

Muscovites woke up to a COVID-19 lockdown 30 March, part of an Russian government attempt to prevent the spread of the novel corona virus. President Vladimir Putin warned regional politicians that they would be personally responsible for the availability of beds, ventilators and other key equipment.

Mar 31, 2020

A formal framework for safeguarding 5G telecommunications in the U.S. has been released by the administration. Its seven-page policy document sets out President Donald Trump’s “vision for America to lead the development, deployment, and management of secure and reliable 5G communications infrastructure worldwide, arm-in-arm with closest partners and allies.”

Mar 31, 2020

In a letter to Department of Defense leaders, a group of major suppliers is warning that the DoD’s cybersecurity plan could actually create risks by creating an atmosphere of confusion. They contend that key elements of the plan lack sufficient clarity and predictability.

Mar 30, 2020

The huge numbers of employees working from home due to COVID-19 concerns, away from their employers’ IT resources, evidently are being targeted anew by fraudsters. False messages about employment insurance claims or from bogus health-related companies and government agencies are being used to steal personal data or to spread malware.

Mar 30, 2020

Domestic intercity or interprovincial airline or train travel by anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms is prohibited as of noon 30 March. Announcing the federal government’s decision, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government’s preference is for Canadians to “stay home if it’s not absolutely essential” to travel. Interprovincial bus service is a provincial jurisdiction.

Mar 29, 2020

With its "Foundations of State Policy in the Arctic to 2035", Russia is seeking to persuade more people to live in its energy-rich Arctic regions as part of a 15-year strategy plan signed by President Vladimir Putin.

Mar 27, 2020

The Conservative party has suspended its leadership race indefinitely in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and has shelved a membership vote scheduled for 27 June. “It is no longer possible to meet the deadlines necessary to process memberships and donations, or print, process and count ballots in time,” the party said 26 March.

Mar 27, 2020

Flooded with thousands of phone calls and emails from Canadians stranded abroad by governments’ border closures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Global Affairs Canada is operating around the clock with extended resources. Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says that “on any given day we likely have somewhere around 200 to 250 people and volunteers from across the department who are contributing their time and their energy."

Mar 27, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, having tested positive for COVID-19, is self-isolating at his official residence while continuing to oversee his government’s handling of the novel corona virus outbreak. He made his statement shortly before health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that he too has tested positive.

Mar 27, 2020

The Bank of Canada reduced its key lending rate to 0.25 per cent 27 March in what Governor Stephen Poloz described as a bid to cushion the economic shock of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now at its “effective lower bound,” the rate has been reduced three times from 1.75 per cent at the beginning of the month.

Mar 26, 2020

Career diplomat Kirsten Hillman was confirmed 26 March as Canada’s new Ambassador to the U.S. A former assistant deputy minister at Global Affairs Canada, she was appointed Deputy Ambassador in 2017 and had been acting ambassador since the resignation last summer of her predecessor, David MacNaughton. Hillman was central in the 13 months of negotiations for the new North American trade pact.

Mar 26, 2020

The prospect of U.S. troops being stationed at the border with Canada is constrained by an 1878 act of Congress. The original Posse Comitatus Act limited federal use of the Army to enforce domestic policies at home and a 1956 amendment added the U.S. Air Force. Last updated in 1981, it does not apply to the Navy or Marine Corps nor does it prevent state-level use of National Guard personnel on home soil.

. . . but there are legal constraints
Mar 26, 2020

The prospect of U.S. troops being stationed at the border with Canada is constrained by an 1878 act of Congress. The original Posse Comitatus Act limited federal use of the Army to enforce domestic policies at home and a 1956 amendment added the U.S. Air Force. Last updated in 1981, it does not apply to the Navy or Marine Corps nor does it prevent state-level use of National Guard personnel on home soil.

Mar 26, 2020

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was charged in absentia by the U.S. 26 March for alleged drug trafficking. Charges also have been laid against other members of his government as well as intelligence officials and members of the Colombia-based FARC rebel group.

Mar 26, 2020

A seven-page document released by the U.S. administration sets out its strategy for 5G telecommunications infrastructure “arm-in-arm with closest partners and allies.” Its release marks the administration’s initial move to meet requirements in new legislation President Donald Trump signed earlier this week.

Mar 26, 2020

The answer, apparently, is a lot. It’s being reported that U.S. insistence on calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan virus” scuttled plans for a statement by the G7 Economic Summit countries to issue a joint statement on their campaign against the novel corona virus. Other foreign ministers disagreed when Secretary of State Mike insisted the virus be referred to by the name of the Chinese city where the outbreak began.

Mar 25, 2020

Effective at midnight 25 March, most travellers returning home to Canada are legally required to self-quarantine for 14 days, the only exception being essential workers. Confirmed by Health Minister Patty Hajdu, the measure designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 is the government’s response to situations in which some returnees essentially ignored requests that they go into voluntary self-isolation.

Mar 25, 2020

Federal legislation designed to provide an array of financial support to companies and Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic received Royal Assent 25 March. The House of Commons had passed Bill C-13 earlier in the day after opposition concerns about government fiscal over-reach had been addressed. The Senate passed it a short time later before referring it to the Governor General for final approval.

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