In the News

Jul 27, 2021

Six decades after members of a First Nation in northwestern Ontario were first diagnosed with mercury poisoning attributed to pollution from a now defunct papermill, the federal government has agreed to pay $68.9 million toward a new residence for victims still experiencing neurological and other damage. New research indicates that more than 90 per cent of the Grassy Narrows population of some 1,500 have been affected.

Jul 27, 2021

Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of attacks that "apparently amount to war crimes" during an 11-day war in May against Hamas militants in Gaza. The accusation July 26 flows from an investigation of three air strikes that it says killed 62 Palestinian civilians. It also accuses the militants of apparent war crimes for launching more that 4,000 unguided munitions against Israeli communities.

Jul 27, 2021

The Taliban have taken control of more territory in Afghanistan in the last two months than at any time since they were ousted from power 20 years ago. Emboldened in recent weeks by the ongoing withdrawal of western forces, they now have a strong presence n many regions and are closing in on major cities.

Jul 27, 2021

The U.S. government is trying to keep secret the employment details of a State Department agent who killed a teenager in a 2019 head-on collision in Britain. Anne Sacoolas, who has not disputed that she was driving on the wrong side of the road, returned to the U.S. under diplomatic immunity and her government has been trying to suppress her professional details on “national security” grounds. The teenager’s parents have filed a civil wrongful death suit in Virginia.

Jul 27, 2021

More than 8,500 Canada Border Services Agency employees have voted in favour of strike action, which could begin as early as Aug. 6, two days before the border is reopened to fully vaccinated U.S. residents. The Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Customs and Immigration Union acknowledged today that while many staff could be deemed essential, a strike could impact commercial traffic.

Jul 26, 2021

Mary Simon, an Inuk from northern Quebec, was sworn in as Canada’s 30th Governor General, the first indigenous vice-regal appointee. In a ceremony held in the Senate chamber, she pledged to use her role to work against climate change, advocate for mental health and work toward reconciliation. “I have heard from Canadians who describe a renewed sense of possibility for our country and hope that I can bring people together," she said.

Jul 26, 2021

There is a significant disparity between the number of money-laundering complaints reported by Ottawa banks to federal authorities in the past 10 years and the number of persons charged: more than 10,000 versus 20. The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada concedes there has been a jump in the number of monthly complaints in the last two years but says it could be due to increased vigilance rather than an increase in criminal activity.

Jul 26, 2021

Newly-accessed documents show that the growing nationalist movement in Canada a half-century ago was closely monitored by the RCMP Security Service. The Committee for an Independent Canada, founded in 1970 to promote economic and cultural independence, was among the targets seen as ripe for “exploitation or manipulation” by radicals.

Jul 26, 2021

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has begun preparing the most comprehensive assessment on the state of global warming since 2013, meeting virtually this week and next to review their findings with representatives of 195 governments. Their work is expected to be a key element of the 27th UN climate conference scheduled for November in Scotland.

Jul 26, 2021

About 100 firefighters from Mexico have joined their British Columbia counterparts and elements of the Canadian Armed Forces in a concerted effort to contain 259 forest fires burning mainly in the province’s southern interior. A spokesperson for B.C. Wildfire Services says continued outbreaks suggest that “we are looking to definitely break some records this year.”

Jul 26, 2021

The Speaker of the House of Commons says a government attempt to shield documents related to the firing of two scientists is a violation of parliamentary privilege. In a notice of motion filed in Federal Court, Anthony Rota, a Liberal MP, says the House has the power to send for any “persons, papers and records” it deems necessary. “This constitutionally entrenched power is fundamental to our system of parliamentary democracy, and to Parliament's critical role in acting as the ‘grand inquest of the nation’ and in holding the executive branch of government to account.”

Jul 26, 2021

Up to $100 million from an emergency fund to meet “unexpected urgent” needs of Afghan refugees, including special immigration visas, was approved July 23 by U.S. President Joe Biden. He also has authorized the release of $200 million in services and articles from government agencies’ inventories as the U.S. prepares to prevent thousands of Afghan allies and their families from being captured and potentially executed by the Taliban.

Jul 26, 2021

The U.S. land border will remain closed to most Canadians until at least Aug. 22, some two weeks after Canada plans to open up to fully-vaccinated entrants from the U.S. The head of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre says the staggered opening is a wise because southbound travel is risky due to lower vaccine uptake in the U.S.

Jul 26, 2021

New Zealand is preventing quarantined visitors from Australia as that country struggles with COVID-18 outbreaks in several states. “Given the high level of transmissibility of the Delta variant, and the fact that there are now multiple community clusters, it is the right thing to do,” says Chris Hipkins, the minister overseeing New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.

Jul 26, 2021

During months of unending turmoil after their April coup d'état, Myanmar security forces have killed more than 900 people, including shooting protesters and detaining thousands. An already fragile health care system has collapsed and now physicians and other health care providers have become targets.

Jul 26, 2021

A World Health Organization plan for additional research into the origins of COVID-19 has been rebuffed by the Chinese government. Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission, said he was “taken aback” by a proposal for further investigation of the theory that the virus might have leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan.

Jul 26, 2021

Having initially supported a planned liquified natural gas facility in the Saguenay region north of Quebec City, the provincial government has done an about-face in response to public opposition. The $14-billion project would have carried Western Canadian gas across the province for shipment to export markets.

Jul 26, 2021

Iran has opened its first oil terminal in the Gulf of Oman, enabling it to avoid the Strait of Hormuz, which has become a chokepoint for shipping. a move that will allow it to avoid using the Strait of Hormuz shipping route that has been a focus of regional tension for decades. “This is a strategic move and an important step for Iran,” outgoing President Hassan Rouhani Rouhani said in a televised speech. “It will secure the continuation of our oil exports.”

Jul 26, 2021

The global automobile industry is being called on to address alleged human rights abuses in its aluminum supply chains. A Human Rights Watch researcher says the metal “is really a blind spot for the car industry” due to mining practices and their impact on its workers and the environment.

Jul 25, 2021

David Cohen, a lawyer and lobbyist who once was chief of staff to the mayor of Philadelphia, has been nominated by President Joe Biden as the next Ambassador to Canada. “Senate confirmation can't come soon enough,” says Scotty Greenwood, president and CEO of the Washington-based Canadian American Business Council. “The need to return to a well-coordinated reciprocal border management process is more acute than ever.”

Jul 22, 2021

The government announced today that “special immigration measures” to rescue Afghans who helped during Canada’s combat mission as well as those still assisting diplomatic staff even as the Taliban continue to gain ground. “Lives hang in the balance,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Marco Mendocino said in a news conference with Defence Minister Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Garneau, explaining that the initiative is not limited to interpreters. “Canada will do right by those who did right by us.”

Jul 22, 2021

The U.S. says it has an agreement with Germany which would prevent Russia from using its Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline as political leverage. The line under the Baltic, which will double gas exports to Germany, has been criticized by several Eastern European governments concerned about security, but the agreement evidently provides for retaliatory sanctions if the line is used for leverage.

Jul 22, 2021

CSIS Director David Vigneault has warned of foreign influence operations. Canada's spy agency says state actors may attempt to blackmail voters and pressure politicians to influence the outcome of the next election. The warning is contained in a special report on foreign interference threats, which charts some of the tactics the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has observed over the years.

Jul 22, 2021

One woman found dead, 3 missing, and at least 5 houses destroyed after rain triggered flooding and mudslides in northern Colorado. Heavy rains created a debris dam that burst, causing flash flooding and mudslides.

Jul 22, 2021

The Romanian-based Bitdefender cybersecurity company says it has uncovered a new form of malware which installs through online advertising and targets devices using Microsoft Windows software. It says MosaicLoader is used to steal passwords, install cryptocurrency miners, and deliver additional trojan malware.

Jul 21, 2021

This week’s transfer of a Moroccan to his homeland from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, has reopened discussion on the future of the remaining 59 long-term detainees and the facility’s future. It was the first transfer by President Joe Biden’s administration and legal experts say a total shutdown is going to take time because of the slow military commissions processing procedures.

Jul 21, 2021

Responding to a ransomware attack on a Texas pipeline company in May, the Transportation Security Administration today directed owners and operators of critical facilities to take specific measures to protect their operations and to have recovery plans in place. Blamed on Russia-based cyber criminals, the attack resulted in gasoline shortages in several states.

Jul 21, 2021

Canada Border Services Agency employees could go on strike next month just as the Canadian border is reopened to fully-vaccinated U.S. visitors. More than 8,500 employees, without a contract since June 2018, are voting this week. A union official said July 20 that the key issues are wage parity, better protection against harassment and discrimination, and a remote work policy for non-uniformed members.

Jul 21, 2021

The British government has dropped COVID-19 restrictions in most of the country despite a surge in infections, mainly the more aggressive Delta variant. England is opening up fastest but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which manage their own health care systems, are taking a slower approach.

Jul 21, 2021

The French government announced plans for a health passport as new COVID-19 cases surged and most institutions required proof of vaccination or recovery from the coronavirus as well as a negative test for entry. Surveys suggest there is widespread vaccine hesitancy and there have been demonstrations this week against restrictions.

Jul 21, 2021

Half of the Australian population is under new COVID-10 lockdowns as the government tries to cope with new outbreaks. Fewer than 14 per cent of the population have been vaccinated, the lowest rate among industrialized countries, as the country relied on early quarantine measures and border closures.

Jul 21, 2021

A British report states that online activity by right-wing extremists in Canada increased last year despite efforts by governments and social media companies to curb extremism and hate speech. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue also found that Canadian extremists are influenced by their increasingly violent U.S. counterparts.

Jul 21, 2021

Mark Carney, who governed the Bank of Canada before taking on the same role at the Bank of England, has said he will not be a Liberal candidate in a federal election rumoured for this fall. He had been considered a likely contender in an Ottawa seat but said July 20 that he is committed to tackling climate change as the UN special envoy on climate and finance.

Jul 21, 2021

A Toronto-based think tank, the C.D. Howe Institute, says that at least 70 per cent of automobiles would have to be electrically-powered by 2030 if the federal government is to achieve its zero-emissions goal by 2030. So-called “zero emission” vehicles comprised 3.5 per cent of total vehicle sales in Canada last year.

Jul 21, 2021

Companies which trade in cryptocurrencies are the target of a draft European Union law which would require them to collect information on the sender and recipients of Bitcoins and other instruments. The European Commission says the law would help to address money-laundering and terrorist financing.

Jul 21, 2021

Allegations that software developed by an Israeli company has been used in a series of international cyber attacks are being investigated by an interdepartmental government team led by the National Security Council. Investigation was prompted by complaints from several countries that the Pegagus software had been used for illegal activities.

Jul 21, 2021

Dozens of 60 diplomatic appointments by the Democratic administration in Washington are being held up by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Prompting angry exchanges within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Cruz is trying to press the administration to impose sanctions against Russia over its Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Europe.

Jul 20, 2021

The federal government's plan to reopen the border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens next month could be complicated by the threat of strike action. This week, more than 8,500 Canada Border Services Agency officers (who have been without a contract since June 2018) are voting on whether they're willing to walk out. A strike could cause massive delays for those travelling by air and land.

Jul 20, 2021

The federal government's plan to reopen the border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens next month could be complicated by the threat of strike action. This week, more than 8,500 Canada Border Services Agency officers (who have been without a contract since June 2018) are voting on whether they're willing to walk out. A strike could cause massive delays for those travelling by air and land.

Jul 20, 2021

With more than 300 wildfires and growing concerns about deteriorating weather, the B.C. government announced today that a state of emergency would go into effect at midnight. Initially for 14 days, it empowers the to, among other things, order evacuations and to prohibit travel. The Department of National Defence confirmed preparations to support civilian firefighters.

Jul 20, 2021

A water bomber tackling a forest fire in Manitoba had to turn back, leaving ground crews in peril, when a drone was flown into its airspace on the weekend. “That could have turned into something way worse,” a Manitoba Wildfire Service official said. The drone operator, who was liable for charges, could not be identified.

Jul 20, 2021

Canada has joined the U.S. and other countries in blaming China for a massive hack of the Microsoft Exchange email server software and accusing it of working with criminal hackers in ransomware attacks and other cyber operations. “This activity put several thousand Canadian entities at risk, a risk that persists in some cases even when patches from Microsoft have been applied,” the government said in a statement.

Jul 20, 2021

A week before Mary Simon is due to be sworn in July 26 as Governor General, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages says it will investigate the nominating process after receiving hundreds of complaints about her inability to speak French. Simon, a Quebec Inuk who speaks English and Inuktituk and has promised to become official bilingual, did not have the opportunity to learn French as a child.

Jul 20, 2021

Appeals filed by the defence and the prosecution in the case of a Toronto police officer convicted of assaulting a black man in 2016 have both been dismissed by an Ontario court. The defence had sought to overturn the assault conviction while the prosecution had appealed the acquittal of the office and his brother on related changes.

Jul 20, 2021

The UN has been advised by Canada that it plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 per cent from 2005 levels by the end of this decade. Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson also has told his provincial counterparts he plans to amend the federal carbon-price benchmark to eliminate some discrepancies and exemptions that emerged as provinces implemented their own policies.

Jul 20, 2021

The U.S. has been asked by Turkish Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for financial, logistical and diplomatic support for Turkish troops to operate Kabul airport once other foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan. The Taliban has warned Turkey against the plan.

Jul 19, 2021

The Communications Security Establishment says that Canadians are “very likely to encounter some form of foreign cyber interference” before and during the next federal election. “We assess that an increasing number of threat actors have the cyber tools, the organizational capacity, and a sufficiently advanced understanding of Canada's political landscape to direct cyber activity against future Canadian federal elections,” it says in a new threat assessment.

Jul 19, 2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Delta variant of COVID-19 is now the dominant global strain. “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” a CDC official said, explaining that in the U.S., 97 per cent of people being hospitalized in the U.s. are unvaccinated.

Jul 19, 2021

Allison Crimmins, who has worked on climate issues for the past decade at the Environmental Protection Agency, has been put in charge of the next major U.S. climate assessment required by law every four years. Her appointment and others are seen as the end of turbulence in the Global Change Research Program office which coordinates the efforts of 13 departments and agencies.

Jul 19, 2021

A $10-billion plant to liquefy natural gas in northern B.C., including a pipeline to tidewater for export, is being backed by the Nisga'a Nation, whose territory is north of Prince Rupert near the Alaska border. It has joined two corporations, Rockies LNG Partners and Texas-based Western LNG, committing to net-zero carbon emissions within three years of startup.

Jul 19, 2021

Significant parts of the Amazon, the world's largest tropical forest, have begun emitting more carbon dioxide that they absorb, according to a team of researchers led by a scientist from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research assessing the impact of deforestation. Among other things, their report notes that regional temperatures rose by three times the global average during the hottest months. “This is . . . accelerating climate change,” says lead author Luciana Gatti.

Jul 19, 2021

Several days after his Alberta counterpart dismissed the notion of COVID-19 passports, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has adopted a similar stance. “We're not gonna do it,” Ford said. “We're not gonna have a split society.” He acknowledged that people get proof of vaccination, bug said that can be easily forged.

Jul 19, 2021

Fully-vaccinated visitors from the U.S. will be permitted to enter Canada Aug. 9 with visigtors from other countries to follow Sept. 7. Federal officials also announced today that unvaccinated children younger than 12 also will be permitted to enter from the U.S. Aug. 9 and can move around with their parents subject to provincial and local public health measures.

Jul 19, 2021

U.S. responds to Chinese cyberattacks Measures designed to expose and disrupt China’s government-sponsored cybercrimes have been confirmed by the U.S. in collaboration with its allies. U.S. officials say the international effort flows from President Joe Biden’s meeting last month with G7 and NATO leaders. China’s Ministry of State Security is identified as a key player and there are suggestions the latest development could lead to further sanctions.

Jul 19, 2021

The European Court of Justice has ruled that companies in the European Union may ban Muslim employees from wearing a hijab under certain conditions. Ruling in two cases brought by women in Germany who were suspended, the court said “prohibition . . . may be justified by the employer’s need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes.” However, it also said national courts within the EU may consider social context in their own countries.

Jul 19, 2021

Freddy Guevara, a close ally of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, has been charged with terrorism and treason by President Nicolás Maduro’s left-wing administration, which also accuses him of having ties to “extremist groups” and foreign governments. Guaidó is seen by most western governments as the legitimate leader but Maduro has Russian and Chinese support.

Jul 19, 2021

A former regimental medical office in an artillery battalion who now practises on Vancouver Island points out that the foes Canada fights are increasingly non-military. Dr. Kevin Patterson suggests that the Canadian Armed Forces should build on its reputation for addressing domestic challenges.

Jul 15, 2021

A national Muslim organization is calling the July 14 vandalization of a mosque in Cambridge, Ont., an “act of hate.” The fact that the Baitul Kareem Mosque was attacked in broad daylight is particularly troubling for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada. “Our mosques have always served as symbols of peace in the community,” says the organization’s president, Lal Khan Malik. “It is hurtful for us to see our mosque attacked and vandalized in this fashion.”

Jul 15, 2021

In an apparent response to anti-government protests, Cuba has temporarily lifted restrictions on travelers bringing food, medicines and hygiene products into the country. Thousands took to the streets last weekend to protest chronic shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties and the government's handling of COVID-19 which has devastated the country's tourism industry.

Jul 15, 2021

The European Commission’s new climate change initiative has drawn fire from Australia, one of the world’s largest resource exporters, which is particularly upset by a proposed surtax on carbon-intense imports such as steel and cement. “The last thing the world now needs is extra protectionist policies,” says Trade Minister Dan Tehan. Even though only four per cent of Australia’s exports go to Europe, he says the commission’s plan could set the stage for increased costs to export to major Asian markets.

Jul 15, 2021

The European Commission has set out a plan for achieving a carbon-neutral economy by mid-century, kicking off what is expected to be intense nationalistic negotiations between its 27 member states, their industries and the European parliament. It calls for, among other things, a shift away from fossil fuels by the end of this decade and tariffs on imports from countries with less ambitious climate agendas.

Jul 15, 2021

In a July 14 “transparency report,” Twitter says last year saw a significant uptick in governments’ demands to take down critical content posted by journalists and new organizations. It received 361 legal demands to remove 199 posters’ content in the second half of 2020, up 26 percent from the first half. India topped the list, followed by Turkey Pakistan and Russia.

Jul 15, 2021

Spain's government has suffered a legal setback in its attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. The country’s highest court did not question the need for last spring’s national lockdown but says in a 6-5 decision that the government used the wrong mechanism. The Constitutional Court was ruling on a lawsuit by Spain’s far-right Vox party.

Jul 15, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic surged around the world, authoritarian regimes evidently have been using it as a smokescreen to attack public activities or opponents. In one case, a Cambodian-American human rights lawyer indicted for treason in his ostensibly democratic homeland, where the prime minister has been in power for more than three decades, calls the coronavirus “a dictator’s dream.” Human Rights Watch says Cambodia uses it as a cover for jailing opponents without due process.

Jul 15, 2021

Boeing has acknowledged a production-line problem on its 787 Dreamliner, already in service internationally and with a waiting list of customers. The company said some fuselages had not been assembled precisely enough, prompting questions about the inspection and verification processes. Working with government regulators, it says it has a remedy and that the issue “poses no immediate threat to flight safety.”

Jul 15, 2021

Cybersecurity experts tracking the activities of REvil, a ransomeware gang based in Russia or Eastern Europe which has targeted western businesses, say it has disappeared from the Internet. “All REvil sites are down, including the payment sites and data leak site,” one observer said in social media. The development comes after U.S. President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin that would be “consequences” if the problem wasn’t addressed.

Jul 15, 2021

A lawyer’s decision to hire a private investigator to track a Manitoba judge's personal behaviour while he hears a constitutional challenge to COVID-19 rules has resulted in another lawyer filing a complaint. “It's probably the most egregious case of professional misconduct that I've heard of in quite some time,” says Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman, calling for “sanction in the strongest possible terms to make it clear that it's completely and utterly unacceptable.”

Jul 15, 2021

The U.S. business community says partisan squabbling which is frustrating efforts to update immigration laws are contributing to a worrisome brain-drain. They aired their concerns at a congressional hearing, focusing mainly on the loss high-technology workers to Canada. “We're stuck in a time warp,” California Republican Representative Zoe Logren agreed. “It's like driving around with a 30-year-old paper map while others easily navigate the road with turn-by-turn directions from their smartphones.”

Jul 15, 2021

A Taliban spokesman has said that the Islamic insurgency retaking Afghanistan sees China as a “welcome friend” despite its treatment of its Uigher Muslim minority. “We care about the oppression of Muslims, the spokesman said. “What we are not going to do is interfere in China's internal affairs.” Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry has confirmed talks with Pakistan about extending the two countries’ economic corridor to Afghanistan.

Jul 15, 2021

U.S. COVID-19 infection rates have more than doubled in the past two weeks with the advent of the Delta variant. Coupled with stalled vaccination rates, it could justify keeping the Canadian border closed to most visitors after July 21 despite pressure from several business sectors. With a week to go, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reiterated that the government remains “cautious” about reopening the border.

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