In the News

Jun 05, 2020

The U.S. State Department has resurrected its threat of potential intelligence repercussions if Canada’s still inconclusive 5G telecom plans include the use of Huawei technologies. “We . . . have made it very clear to all of our friends and allies around the world that if Huawei is allowed into a country's national security systems, we will have to protect our intelligence-sharing relationship,” a department official said 4 June.

Jun 04, 2020

Iran has released Michael White, an American held since July 2018 after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for alleged privacy violations and insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a personal visit. His release was announced a day after an Iranian scientist held by the U.S. was returned to Iran.

Jun 04, 2020

President Donald Trump’s threat to deploy active duty military personnel to crack down on public protests has been openly challenged by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The former infantry officer said 3 June that invocation of the Insurrection Act must be “a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations.”

Jun 04, 2020

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has denounced President Donald Trump’s threat to deploy Army personnel to quell protests in several U.S. cities. “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” the retired Marine General writes. Mattis quit the cabinet in 2018 over Trump’s policy on Syria.

Jun 04, 2020

President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil leaked into a river near the Siberian city of Norilsk. “Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact?” he asked 3 June. “Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?”

Jun 04, 2020

The U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission says draft U.S. legislation requiring “reasonable” cybersecurity on connected devices sold to the government should apply to those sold to all consumers.

Jun 02, 2020

Four former federal cabinet ministers are among 58 diplomats and politicians who have added their names to a letter calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to display stronger resistance to a proposed Israeli annexation of a large part of the occupied West Bank. They argue that “territorial conquest and annexation are notorious for contributing to fateful results: war, political instability, economic ruin, systematic discrimination and human suffering.”

Jun 02, 2020

Creating a national cyber director’s office within the U.S. administration evidently is problematic, according to the Cyberspace Solarium Commission which has recommended an overhaul of the U.S. government’s cybersecurity operations. Several of the commission’s proposals could become law later this year but the White House has been unreceptive to a new cyber officer, having eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator in 2018.

Jun 02, 2020

A Russian military collective designated “Sandworm” is said to be responsible for continued email server hacks which enable the collective to modify data and create new accounts, the U.S. National Security Agency says. The accusation is set out in an NSA bulletin highlighting the dangers of failing to regularly update systems.

Jun 02, 2020

Employers concerned about workers who have been sent home during the COVID-19 pandemic now have way of monitoring the situation. Working with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a software company, UiPath, has launched an Employee Roll Call Bot. “There was no single source of information across the agency that provided complete personnel accountability data and provided a way to visually display the information to easily inform senior leaders,” a CMS spokesperson says. “The bot was quickly developed in conjunction with UiPath to maintain visibility of multiple aspects of personnel accountability.”

Jun 02, 2020

A series of often violent protests in several major cities following the death of another black man in police custody in Minneapolis prompted President Donald Trump to insist 1 June that state governors call out their National Guard units to resolve the situations. “If a city or state refuses . . . I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Jun 02, 2020

Legal experts are parsing President Donald Trump’s threat to deploy the U.S. military to put down continued and sometimes violent protests in several cities after the death of a black man in police custody. Even though the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act precludes that kind of intervention, the 1807 Insurrection Act does give the President authority to deploy federal forces in states unable to put down an insurrection or where federal law is being defied. The exports do agree that legal challenges are inevitable and some state governors are calling Trump’s move an overreaction

Jun 01, 2020

The U.S. has joined a panel established by Canada and France two years ago to draft ethical guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence. The White House had previously eschewed membership on grounds that a regulatory focus would constrain innovation, but its chief technology officer, Michael Kratsios, now says it is important to established shared principles as a counter to China’s record of “twisting technology” to undermine civil liberties.

Jun 01, 2020

A suggestion by U.S. President Donald Trump that Russia rejoin the G7 Summit group of nations has been flatly dismissed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Russia was excluded from the G7 after it invaded Crimea a number of years ago,” he said 1 June. “Its continued disrespect and flaunting of international rules and norms is why it remains outside of the G7, and will continue to remain out.”

Jun 01, 2020

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canada and four other countries are “pressing” Iran to release the flight data and cockpit voice recorders from Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, shot down by Iranian missiles minutes 08 January shortly after takeoff fom Tehran airport. They had been promised by 25 March, which essentially coincided with a COVID-19 eruption in Iran.

Jun 01, 2020

The Canada's economy shrank by an annualized  8.2 per cent in the first quarter as weakness in January and February was exacerbated by COVID-19 in March. Statistics Canada calls it the sharpest quarterly deceleration since the 2009 international financial crisis.

Jun 01, 2020

The 46th G7 Economic Summit, scheduled as a videoconference 10-12 June, has been abruptly postponed until at least September by President Donald Trump. “I don’t feel that . . . it properly represents what's going on in the world,” he said 30 May. “It's a very outdated group.” The G7, which Canada joined in 1976, also includes Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan but Trump said Australia, India, South Korea and Russia should be added to the roster.

Jun 01, 2020

President Donald Trump is being criticized at home and abroad for withdrawing all U.S. funding from the World Health Organization as he renews his criticism of the WHO for what he has repeatedly alleged has not held China to account for COVID-19. Members of his own Republican Party have said the move is short-sighted and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says “now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions.”

May 29, 2020

Seeking other leaders’ support for Canada’s latest bid for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau co-hosted an international call 28 May for global cooperation on mitigating the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. Canada’s campaign for a seat also sought by Ireland and Norway is predicated on what Trudeau said is its “long tradition of convening, of gathering people together, to deal with larger issues.”

May 29, 2020

The federal government’s ban on “assault style” long guns is being challenged in federal court by the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights. The Calgary-based organization, noting that rifles have been used for legitimate hunting and sporting purposes for decades, wants the new rules struck down as unlawful and outside the scope of the cabinet’s authority.

May 29, 2020

A series of often violent protests in Minneapolis over the death of an unarmed black man arrested by police has prompted President Donald Trump to warn that if the city government cannot the situation, there could be forceful federal intervention. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he threatened on Twitter.

May 29, 2020

No sooner had President Donald Trump ordered a regulatory crackdown on social media for perceived bias -- even though he personally uses Twitter to deliver his pronouncements -- than legal experts were arguing that the executive order would be unenforceable. Trump’s action evidently was in response to Twitter’s decision to fact-check one of his own tweets.

May 29, 2020

Daniel Livermore, a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, says Canada should act unilaterally to stop the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wenzhou if the U.S. cannot be persuaded to withdraw its request. It could be the key, he suggests, to China’s release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who have been detailed in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Meng at Washington’s request in December 2018.

May 28, 2020

A Canadian court’s decision that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou can be extradited to the U.S., which is certain to be appealed further, is raising concerns about the status of two Canadians detained in China. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, accused of violating national security, have been held essentially incommunicado since shortly after Meng was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018. “This is not good news for the two Michaels,” says David Mulroney, Canada’s Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012, said of the court ruling 27 May. “That's human and personal. It affects two Canadians who are victims in this, who are being held hostage, and we can never forget that.”

May 28, 2020

China's rubber-stamp legislature has voted in favour of a new security law designed to criminalize anything the Communist Party construes as undermining Beijing's authority in Hong Kong. The bill, which sparked a new round of protests and arrests in the former British colony 27 May, also could see China installing its own security agencies for the first time.

May 28, 2020

Two days after the US recorded its first case of COVID-19, President Donald Trump said the situation was “totally under control.” Four months later, with the corona virus affecting all 50 states, the official death toll has surpassed 100,000, the highest national total in the world as Trump continues to press for easement of state and municipal lockdowns.

May 27, 2020

The U.S. Congress has been advised by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Hong Kong is no longer considered autonomous from China. “Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure,” he said in a statement 27 May. “Sound policy-making requires a recognition of reality. While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modelling Hong Kong after itself.”

May 27, 2020

The B.C. Supreme Court has ordered that extradition proceedings can proceed against Huawei executive Meng Wahnzhou, under house arrest in Vancouver since she was detained in December 2018 at the request of the U.S., which alleges financial fraud and violation of sanctions against Iran. Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said in the 27 May ruling that the offence Meng is accused of would have been a crime if it occurred in Canada. A day earlier, a spokesman for the Chinese government, which has been detaining two Canadians in apparent retaliation, accused Canada and the U.S. of having “abused their bilateral extradition treaty.”

May 27, 2020

Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed to help civil authorities with long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 crisis have confirmed conditions in facilities which critics say have been known for some time. A CAF report states that personnel found that equipment was used on both infected and non-infected patients without being disinfected, and that a disregard for basic cleanliness had resulted in insect infestation and rotten food.

May 27, 2020

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security within the Communication Security Establishment is warning that some “authoritarian governments” likely are looking to exploit surveillance technologies in Canada by promising to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

May 27, 2020

Frontline medical staff wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic say more than a third of Canadians have been unable to receive treatment for other problems, including scheduled surgeries, because of government-imposed lockdowns. This, among other findings, are outlined in the results of a new Angus Reid poll published 27 May.

May 27, 2020

The U.S. public is being asked to comment on the White House’s strategy for controlling the evolution of fifth-generational telecommunications networks. The administration and the Department of Defense are pushing for the removal of what they see as “foreign adversaries” from the 5G supply chain, notably China’s Huawei telecom giant.

May 26, 2020

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the multinational Open Skies Treaty could a pose a strategic challenge for Canada, according to Rob Huebert, who teaches political science at the University of Calgary. He says Canada can either stick to its long-standing policy of supporting such agreements or risk looking “like a toady” by following Trump’s lead.

May 26, 2020

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage says the fact that large-scale public protests are banned due to COVID-19 concerns means it is a “great time” to move ahead with construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline to B.C. She says people need work and that “ideological protests” would not be tolerated.

May 26, 2020

The first of five Iranian tankers loaded with gasoline arrived safely in Venezuela over the weekend with the others expected this week. The U.S. had signalled its displeasure and both countries breaching sanctions but there were no signs of interference with the initial traffic.

May 26, 2020

The World Health Organization has suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a possible answer to COVID-19. The decision follows publication in The Lancet journal of data indicating that the anti-malarial could increase the risk of death in some patients. U.S. President Donald, who used hydroxychloroquine for two weeks, had repeatedly promoted it.

May 26, 2020

Douglas Ross, who has been the junior minister for Scotland in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has resigned over a COVID-19 controversy. A senior member of the PM’s staff has defended his decision to ignore the government’s own advice on self-isolation, an attitude Ross says was “not shared by the vast majority of people.”

May 26, 2020

The prospect of having to deal with an estimated 900,000 pieces of debris in low-earth orbit when planning future space missions has prompted the UK Space Agency to set aside £1 million for research grants on how to sense and track objects which could be a threat.

May 25, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the need to trace contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases is “strongly” recommended as part of a national containment effort and it has more than 5,000 personnel trained for the task. “After we've confirmed and isolated new cases, we have to get in touch with everyone who may have been exposed to the virus and make sure they take measures to quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms or get tested,” he said.

May 25, 2020

Russian hackers are suspected of spreading COVID-19 pandemic disinformation about the Canadian-led NATO battle group in Latvia. “Definitely not true,” the task force commander, Col Eric Laforest, says of recent reports in some Baltic and Eastern European media that there was “a high number” of cases among the CAF at Camp Adazi near the capital city Riga.

May 25, 2020

The Venezuelan military says it is preparing to protect five tankers expected to deliver Iranian gasoline despite U.S. sanctions on both countries. The minister of defence, Gen Vladimir Padrino López, says the tankers will be “welcomed” into Venezuela’s 370-kilometre offshore economic management zone.

May 25, 2020

Some 400 Winnipeg-based employees of Boeing are to be laid off due to the impact of COVID-19 on the manufacturer's global supply chain. The workers were told May 22 about the plan, which is part of a company-wide response to the pandemic and affects mainly the production of parts for Boeing commercial aircraft.

May 25, 2020

The trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges began with a brief court appearance 25 May but was adjourned to 19 July, giving his legal team more time to prepare the 70-year-old politician’s defence. The first Israeli leader to face trial while in office, he has denied accusations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

May 24, 2020

More than 1,000 residents of the Porters Lake area just east of Halifax were being evacuated due to a brush fire that was not yet under control by nightfall on Saturday. Three choppers and approximately 100 firefighters had been deployed to the scene by Halifax Fire Services.

May 22, 2020

Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee, says China will firmly defend its interests “if the U.S. insists on a Cold War thinking, and carries out strategies to contain China.” Meeting with reporters in Beijing ahead of the upcoming parliamentary session, he said his country “never flinches when trouble comes its way.”

May 22, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the likelihood of Canadians having to self-isolate during a second COVID-19 wave will depend on increased testing capacity, faster contact tracing, and heeding advice from public health authorities.

May 22, 2020

There has been a significant jump in the number of Canadian Armed Forces personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19 while working in long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec. As of 21 May, 28 service members have tested positive compared with only five the previous week.

Pentagon reverses COVID-19 policy
May 22, 2020

A Department of Defense directive that would have permanently blocked recruitment of any person who had tested positive for COVID-19 has been reversed by Matthew Donovan, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Recruitment of affected persons will remain suspended until they test negative for the coronavirus.

May 22, 2020

Indications that China is about to impose a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong are alarming residents of the former British colony. Officials have said that the new law would criminalize “foreign interference” and curb political dissent of the kind that erupted in violence last year.

May 22, 2020

As Russia struggles to contain COVID-19, which is claiming a growing number of victims, the U.S. Air Force has delivered a load of medical aid, including ventilators. Meanwhile, Moscow says expanded testing is the reason for a recent jump in confirmed cases.

May 22, 2020

The U.S. administration has been pressing the United Nations and France for the leading role in the French-led UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. President Donald Trump’s administration has questioned the value and utility of the peacekeeping effort for more than three years and its push for leadership is seen as a prelude to a gradual reduction.

May 22, 2020

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. peace envoy, visited Kabul earlier this week in a bid to reboot power-sharing talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Among other things, in a climate of escalating violence blamed on Daesh militants, he said too much time has been wasted in getting the two sides together.

May 22, 2020

John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican nominated by President Donald Trump as Director National Security, has been confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. He had been put forward last year but withdrew when some members of his own party questioned his suitability. Most Democrats oppose Ratcliffe, making him the first DNI not to have broad bipartisan support.

May 21, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the shortcomings of Canada’s economy, particularly supply chains and development of value-added products, according to Dan Breznitz, co-director of the innovation policy lab at the University of Toronto. Expecting global raw commodities trade to decline as the pandemic makes it more difficult to move people and goods, he warns that resource-based industries “will have a problem just selling wood and unprocessed oil.”

May 21, 2020

In its annual report to Parliament 20 May, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says that some foreign investment carries with it security risks, but the agency is not specific about which foreign interests are a concern. “Economic espionage activities in Canada continue to increase in breadth, depth and potential economic impact,” it says. “As difficult as it is to measure, this damage to our collective prosperity is very real.”

May 21, 2020

Scott Jones, head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security within the Communications Security Establishment, says possible security breaches at Canadian organizations doing COVID-19-related research are being investigated. “We've seen some compromises in research organizations that we've been helping to mitigate and we're still continuing to look through what's the root cause,” he told a House of Commons committee 20 May.

May 21, 2020

In stark contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump, who refuses to wear a mask against COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to wear one when he can’t maintain social-distancing in public. Calling it a “personal choice” in line with experts’ advice, he says keeping socially distant, staying home when sick, and washing hands remain “the best thing” for Canadians to keep doing to curb the virus’ spread.

May 21, 2020

All Canadians are now being urged to wear non-medical face masks or other face coverings if they are unable to maintain social-distancing. Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Medical Officer of Health, had previously avoided the recommendation but subsequent data indicate that it would be appropriate. “If you can’t predict whether you can maintain that two-metre distance, then it’s recommended that you wear the non-medical mask or facial covering,” she says.

May 21, 2020

A 17-year-old Toronto male is the first Canadian to be charged with a terrorism offence after a 2018 murder evidently resulting from his involvement in the online “incel” community of individuals who deem themselves “involuntarily celibate” because they are unable to have romantic or sexual partners. “Terrorism comes in many forms and it's important to note that it is not restricted to any particular group, religion or ideology," the RCMP explained.

May 20, 2020

Canada and the U.S. have agreed to keep their border closed to non-essential travel for at least another month, until 21 June. Confirming the decision, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it the “right thing” to do as long as COVID-19 persists and despite provincial and state governments relaxing lockdowns. The agreement does not apply to the flow of trade and commerce as well as healthcare workers who live and work on each side of the border.

May 20, 2020

The fact that the U.S. has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 fatalities in the world, 92,000 at last count, has been portrayed by President Donald Trump as some kind of “badge of honour.” “You know when you say that we lead in cases, tthat's because we have more testing than anybody else,” he told reporters. “When when we have a lot of cases, I don't look at that as a bad thing; I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better. So I view it as a badge of honor” and a tribute to “all of the work that a lot of professionals have done."

May 19, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 19 May that his government would “continue to support” the World Health Organization even if U.S. President Donald Trump makes good on a threat to stop funding the agency. Trump says the WHO has shown an "alarming lack of independence from the People’s Republic of China” in tackling COVID-19. Trudeau acknowledged that “no global institution is perfect” but “we will continue to support the WHO even as we look for improvements.”

May 19, 2020

The X-37B space plane developed by Boeing for the U.S. Air Force was launched on its sixth mission 17 May. Its mostly military missions are generally classified, but the USAF has disclosed that its experiments this time includes microwave delivery of solar power to the Earth’s surface and a test of how seeds used for food products are affected by radiation and the zero-gravity environment.

May 19, 2020

Having already frozen U.S. support for the World Health Organization, President Donald Trump now is threatening to halt it altogether. In letter to the WHO, which Trump posted on his Twitter account, he said that unless the WHO commits to improvements in its pandemic response within 30 days, “I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership.”

 

May 19, 2020

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization since 2017, has promised an independent evaluation of the global COVID-19 response “at the earliest appropriate moment” with a view to future pandemics. “We all have lessons to learn,” he said. “Every country and every organization must examine its response and learn from its experience.”

May 19, 2020

The Canadian Center for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University has received Health Canada approval for the first domestic clinical trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. In announcing the development, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the National Research Council will work with the Italian developer to ensure Canadian production if the trial succeeds.

May 19, 2020

Albert Premier Jason Kenney’s warning last week that China faced a “great reckoning” for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis has drawn a sharp rebuttal from the Chinese consulate in Calgary. Accusing Kenney of “slander and stigma”, the consulate says that “a large body of facts and data suggest that China did not play down, obfuscate or cover up the dangers posed by the novel coronavirus when it emerged.”

May 19, 2020

Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has opted to keep his U.S. citizenship despite promising last year to renounce it. He said during a televised interview that once he had decided to step down, knowing “that I won’t be prime minister,” he stopped the renunciation process.

May 19, 2020

The 10 most commonly exploited security vulnerabilities have been listed by the U.S. intelligence community, including some which date to 2016. The newest vulnerabilities target remote workers using virtual private networks and cloud collaboration. “Foreign cyber actors continue to exploit publicly known—and often dated—software vulnerabilities,” the agencies say.

May 19, 2020

State Department Inspector General Steve Linik has been dismissed. President Donald Trump explained only that Linik no longer had the administration’s confidence but a senior Democrat says Linik had begun an investigation into the White House’s use of an emergency declaration to facilitate arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Linik’s counterpart in the intelligence community was fired by the administration last month.

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