In the News

Oct 16, 2020

The union representing RCMP officers is back in salary negotiations with the government after they were delayed due to COVID-19. “Our membership has shown their patience with respect to this process and I'd ask them and the public to obviously realize that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” says National Police Federation president Brian Sauvé.

Oct 16, 2020

In the second such case, senior executives of a U.S. company were permitted to enter Canada for non-essential purposes without having to quarantine for 14 days. Costco President Craig Jelinek and another executive visited by private jet in August. “Their travel was deemed to be essential when it should not have been,” says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who had ordered tighter control after the first case was uncovered, also in August.

Oct 16, 2020

The World Health Organization’s chief scientist says hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine to be available quickly and widely are optimistic. Her reasoning is based on the sheer number of proposed vaccinations and she expects prioritized access to limited quantities when they do become available.

Oct 16, 2020

European Union leaders want British PM Boris Johnson to extend his deadline for winding up post-Brexit trade talks. Rather, they say, he should “make the necessary move” to having new “intensive” talks concluded by the end of the month.

Oct 15, 2020

The two Canadians detained by China since December 2018, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, recently received virtual consular support from Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador in Beijing. Even so, Global Affairs Canada remains “deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention . . . and continues to call for their immediate release.”

Oct 15, 2020

For the first time since January, Canada's ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, was recently granted virtual consular access to Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian facing the death penalty. Convicted of involvement in methamphetamine smuggling, he was initially sentenced to 15 years but that was changed to the death penalty in a retrial. “Canada continues to call for clemency,” Global Affairs Canada says.

Oct 15, 2020

Two Ontario men found guilty in 2015 of terror-related charges arising mainly from plot to derail a Via Rail train travelling between Canada and the U.S., will not be getting a new trial. The Supreme Court of Canada was ruling on a government challenge to a provincial court’s call for a new trial on grounds their original jury had been selected incorrectly.

Oct 15, 2020

The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the constitutionality of a change in how juries are selected. A majority ruled that the government’s legislated elimination of “peremptory challenges” was simply a procedural change to make juries more representative of the community at large.

Oct 15, 2020

A double murder and attempted murder trial in Ontario has ended in mistrial when a Superior Court judge said he had no “choice” because of numerous complications and trial delays, due in part to COVID-19. New trial dates have been scheduled for September 2021.

Oct 15, 2020

John Bolton, a former U.S. National Security Advisor, says President Donald Trump considers Canada a political pawn in trade dealings with China. “Within the whole U.S. government, that was true in the mind of . . . one person only: Donald Trump,” Bolton said in a televised interview.

Oct 15, 2020

Results of a recent national poll suggest that increasing numbers of Canadians dislike the concept of mandatory COVID-18 vaccination. While earlier numbers indicated majority support once a vaccine is available, that dropped by 18 points to 39 per cent in the latest survey.

Oct 15, 2020

The spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. in recent weeks has been worse than it seems, not because of how it has spread but where. Surges in rural areas have been just as severe as the spikes in densely populated cities in the Sun Belt over the summer.

Oct 15, 2020

The weekly number of new coronavirus cases in Europe is at its highest point since the pandemic began, according to a World Health Organization official who urged governments to crack down on social gatherings. The number of confirmed cases had risen by some 15 per cent to seven million in just 10 days.

Oct 15, 2020

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev’s declaration that a military solution is the only way to resolve his country’s escalating conflict with Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh has been criticized by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne. He and his British counterpart, Dominic Raab, insist that a negotiated settlement is the only appropriate solution.

Oct 15, 2020

A German year-long research mission in the Arctic has confirmed that permanent sea ice continues to disappear due to global warming. “The ice is disappearing and if in a few decades we have an ice-free Arctic, this this will have a major impact on the climate around the world,” the chief scientist says.

Oct 15, 2020

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service considers a requirement that it secure Federal Court investigative warrants “a necessary evil” which potentially compromises its effectiveness. An internal review found that ineffective training, secrecy and a poor understanding of responsibilities contributed to CSIS failing to meet its obligation of full disclosure when requesting warrants.

Oct 15, 2020

The European Union has green-lit by the World Trade Organization to impose the equivalent of $4 billion in annual tariffs on U.S. products in retaliation for what Airbus says are illegal Boeing subsidies. The WTO gave the U.S. permission last year to impose up to $7.5 billion in tariffs after the U.S. challenged the EU over Airbus subsidies.

Oct 09, 2020

China has joined a global coalition to distribute COVID-19 vaccine equitably, supported by the World Health Organization and most industrialized country but dismissed by U.S. President Donald Trump. A foreign ministry spokesperson did not go into detail about Beijing’s commitment support for the COVAX plan to deliver at least two billion doses by the end of 2021.

Oct 09, 2020

Two European telecom service providers have chosen 5G technology from Finland’s Nokia Corp. for their networks in Belgium, dropping China’s Huawei. The decision followed months of diplomatic pressure from the U.S., which considers the Chinese technology a national security risk.

Oct 08, 2020

Thirteen people have been charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat accused by a White House spokesperson of “sowing division” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal and state law enforcement officials said Oct. 8 that the accused domestic terrorists had sought to overthrow several state governments they believe were “violating the U.S. Constitution.”

Oct 08, 2020

U.S. government departments and agencies have been tasked with developing a plan to address mental health issues exacerbated by COVID-19. The White House has proposed a an “all-of-government” approach to the pandemic’s impact on all vulnerable populations.

Oct 08, 2020

The escalating Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict over Nagorno-Karabachk evidently is being “shadowed” by a social-media battle over how it is being portrayed to the outside world. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute says researchers at its Cyber Policy Centre have found large numbers of accounts weighing on both sides, indicating large-scale coordination.

Oct 08, 2020

The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates wants the next election debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic Party opponent, former Vice-President Joe Biden, to be a virtual affair due to COVID-19 concerns. Trump dismissed the idea immediately. “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate, that’s not what debating is all about,” he said. “You sit behind a computer and do a debate — it’s ridiculous.”

Oct 08, 2020

The U.S. administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans, featured strongly in the Oct. 8 debate between Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic Party challenger, Senator Kamala Harris. Pence defended the White House record, often ignoring facts, while Harris accused the administration of a catastrophic failure in public-health policy.

Oct 07, 2020

Two British men who joined an Islamic State cell dubbed “The Beatles”, and who are alleged to participated in kidnappings in Iraq and Syria, have been charged with terrorism offences arising from the killing of four U.S. hostages. Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who have pleaded not guilty and are facing up to life imprisonment, are in FBI custody pending a federal court appearance in Virginia.

Oct 07, 2020

Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, in exile in Lithuania, has been charged by Russia with an unspecific “criminal charge" and put on its wanted list. Tikhanovskaya ran against incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko in August's disputed election.

Oct 07, 2020

The controversial advent of 5G technologies will dramatically increase the number of internet-connected devices but it also increases opportunities for hackers. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has found the government’s national 5G strategy lacking in that it only partly addresses five of six key concerns and ignores the sixth.

Oct 07, 2020

Face masks have become the ubiquitous symbol of the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed more than a million persons worldwide. There’s general consensus about their effectiveness in health care institutions but the journal Nature says that for those used by the general public, there's confusion due to the fact that “data are messy, disparate and often hastily assembled.”

Oct 07, 2020

Supported by the New Democratic Party, the minority Liberal government has survived a confidence vote in the House of Commons. The vote on the Speech from the Throne was 177-152 with the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party voting against it.

Oct 07, 2020

The Supreme Court of Canada has been told by federal government lawyers that it would be a miscarriage of justice to grant a new trial for two men accused of plotting to crash a Via Rail train. The Ontario Court of Appeal agreed last year to a new trial for Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier, found guilty in 2015 of terror-related charges, on ground that the original jury had been improperly constituted.

Oct 07, 2020

The cost to taxpayers of defending then Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O'Regan in a small claims court defamation case has topped $213,500, according to information prepared by the Justice Department but released in the Senate. Former RCAF intelligence officer Sean Bruyea sued the minister (now at Natural Resources) for $25,000, saying that he had been defamed in a newspaper article written by O’Regan. The suit has since been settled without disclosure.

Oct 07, 2020

The U.S. State Department has told Congress that Syria continues to obtain components for its chemical weapons and missile programs as President Bashar al-Assad tries to restore capabilities eroded by civil war and U.S. airstrikes. “The Assad regime continues to pursue chemical weapons,” the State Department said in a report just made public. Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the UN told a Security Council session this week that Syria is breaching its international obligations governing chemical weapons.

Oct 06, 2020

After a 15-month investigation of leading information technology companies’ business practices, the Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives’ judiciary committee have called for sweeping changes to anti-trust legislation. They say in a 449-page report that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google had abused their market dominance as they evolved from “scrappy” startups into “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.”

Oct 06, 2020

President Donald Trump plans to participate in the second election debate, set for Oct. 15 in Miami, against former Vice-President Joe Biden. This is despite have been just discharged from hospital after treatment for COVID-19 and warnings that the course of his illness is unpredictable given his age, 74, and that he is overweight. Many of his White House staff also have tested positive.

Oct 06, 2020

Some U.S. citizens driving through Canada between Alaska and the southern states continue to defy restrictions on side trips. A half dozen were fined a total of $4,500 in two separate incidents in August and in one case a family was escorted out of the country. Even so, the Canada Border Services Agency says that since the restrictions were put in place, most transients have complied.

Oct 06, 2020

After a series of violent protests in the capital against voting irregularities, Kyrgyzstan’s electoral commission has “invalidated” the results of its Oct. 4 national election. The decision was taken after President Sooronbai Jeenbekov accused “political forces” of trying to seize power and proposed a thorough investigation.

Oct 06, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting his Australian, Indian and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo to discuss how to counter an increasingly assertive China in the Indo-Pacific region. Beijing has warned against “exclusive cliques”, saying it would prefer “more things that are conducive to regional peace, stability and development, not the other way around.”

Oct 06, 2020

Former cabinet minister Ralph Goodale, a Liberal veteran who lost his Saskatchewan seat in last year’s general election, is apparently bound for Britain as Canada’s High Commissioner. He would succeed Janice Charette, a former Privy Council Clerk appointed in 2016.

Oct 05, 2020

Senior White House officials are reportedly blocking strict Food and Drug Administration guidelines for emergency release of a COVID-19 vaccine because it almost certainly would mean no authorization before the Nov. 3 election. President Donald Trump has frequently said one would be available before then. This would be the latest development in a lengthy tug-of-war between the White House and front-line agencies as the U.S. death toll climbs past 209,000, highest in the world.

Oct 05, 2020

The federal government is returning to a lottery system for citizens or landed immigrants hoping to sponsor immediate family members. Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino and the three-week online application window would open Oct. 13. Department staff will then randomly select prospective applicants who would have 60 days to complete the process, which had been suspended due to COVID-19.

Oct 05, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised more support for public health units in emerging COVID-19 hotspots in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. A total of 500 federal employees, mainly from Statistics Canada, evidently will help with a contact tracing systems and testing backlogs.

Oct 05, 2020

Three days after being admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for aggressive treatment of COVID-19, U.S. President Donald Trump has returned to the White House, where he would continue around-the-clock care. His personal physician, USN Cdr Sean Conley has said that because Trump remains contagious, he could resume his schedule once “there is no evidence of live virus still present.”

Oct 05, 2020

Four days after it was confirmed that President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19, neither his administration nor his medical team would disclose Oct. 5 when he last tested negative, a factor in effective contact tracing as the list of affected personnel continue to grow.

Oct 05, 2020

Vice-President Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger, Kamala Harris, will be separated by plastic shielding at their Oct. 7 debate. Harris’ request prompted mockery from Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller, who was confirmed COVID-19 positive in May; she suggested that Harris wanted “a fortress around herself.” As for two more scheduled presidential debates, incumbent Donald Trump’s three-day stay in hospital has prompted debate organizers to rethink their approach.

Oct 05, 2020

Annamie Paul, a non-practising lawyer from Toronto who has spent much of her career in international institutions, including Canada’s mission to the European Union and the International Criminal Court, is the new leader of the Green Party of Canada. Succeeding Elizabeth May, she won a bare majority in an eighth-round ballot.

Oct 05, 2020

The U.S. military is being called on the congressional carpet to explain how an estimated $1 billion in COVID-19 relief funds allegedly were used to pay contractors rather than to purchase medical supplies. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has been told by several House subcommittees that the funds were supposed “to prioritize the domestic production and distribution of urgently needed medical supplies and personal protective equipment” and not used for “lucrative contracts . . . for non-medical projects.”

Oct 05, 2020

The European Union and the U.S. have approved new economic sanctions against members of Belarussian President Alyaksandr Lukashenko’s regime. The moves follow his government’s often brutal crackdowns on pro-democracy protestors before and after an early August general election.

Oct 02, 2020

The federal government has promised to spend $10 billion on infrastructure initiatives as part of its plan to stimulate growth and create jobs in a post-pandemic economy. The package unveiled by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Infrastructure & Communities Minister Catherine McKenna includes funding for “clean power”, improved Internet connectivity, energy retrofits, agricultural irrigation and zero-emissions transit.

Oct 02, 2020

An executive order by President Donald Trump is designed to increase domestic U.S. production of rare earth minerals while reducing dependence on China. The order states that the current situation “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat . . . to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

Oct 02, 2020

The Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has received a U.S. Navy contract worth more than $12 million to develop unmanned submarine vehicles and buoys as well as a communications and data sharing network. The stated goal is enhanced monitoring of environmental changes in the Arctic.

Oct 02, 2020

Having been accused of discrimination over a policy which resulted in frontline bearded personnel being assigned desk duty because they could not wear sufficiently-tight masks against COVID-19, the RCMP has scrapped the requirement. The force’s chief human resources officer has confirmed that they can return to normal duty with appropriate protective gear.

Oct 02, 2020

President Donald Trump and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19 but Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife have been confirmed negative. A persistent skeptic about the effectiveness of masks, Trump evidently was suffering “cold-like” symptoms but was continuing to work from isolation in the White House as the international community and global markets reacted to the announcement.

Oct 01, 2020

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that cruise ships should remain docked until mid-February to help contain the spread of COVID-19 has been overruled by the White House. President Donald Trump’s administration wants operations to resume after Oct. 31, a date preferred by the industry.

Oct 01, 2020

The European Commission is taking legal action against Britain over its push for Internal Market legislation which would breach parts of the legally binding Brexit package agreed to last year. EC President Ursula von der Leyen says the proposal “is a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement” and could lead to renewal of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Oct 01, 2020

As Moscow prepares to assume the chair next year of the eight-nation Arctic Council, which includes Canada, growing military and economic interest in a region made increasingly accessible by global warming has prompted a warning from the internationally-respected journal Nature. “It is imperative that both the incoming chair and the . . . member countries oversee a smooth handover (from Iceland) and ensure that the council’s vital scientific work isn’t disrupted,” it says.

Oct 01, 2020

British Chief of Defence Gen Nick Carter wants his government to “fundamentally change” how it counters spreading authoritarianism rivals or risk being overwhelmed. His advice coincides with publication of a new Integrated Operating Concept which underscores the value of improved domestic and international cooperation and equipment modernization. “In an era of persistent competition, our deterrent posture needs to be more dynamically managed and modulated,” Carter says.

Sep 30, 2020

Health Canada has approved a new rapid COVID-19 swab developed by U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories and said to deliver results within minutes. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it will be available across the country “in the coming weeks.”

Sep 30, 2020

Rob Anders, an Alberta MP who helped found the Conservative Party of Canada and made a name for himself campaigning for lower taxes, has been charged with five tax-related offences. He has declined comment. 

Sep 30, 2020

As she lay dying in a Quebec hospital bed, a 37 year old Atikamekw woman clicked her phone to broadcast a Facebook Live audio of being insulted and sworn at by hospital staff. Joyce Echaquan's death on Monday prompted an immediate outcry from her home community of Manawan, about 250 kilometres north of Montreal, and has spurred unusually quick and decisive action on the part of the provincial government in the form of a coroner's inquiry and an administrative probe.

Sep 30, 2020

In a rare display of unanimity, the House of Commons has voted 360-0 in favour of Bill C-4 which would authorize new benefits for persons whose income has been affected by COVID-19. The vote had been considered a confidence measure.

Sep 30, 2020

The first presidential candidates’ debate in the runup to the U.S. election saw President Donald Trump acting as “a perfect caricature of himself” with sound-bites and frequent interruptions of his Democratic challenger, former vice-president Joe Biden. The latter countered by calling the incument a “clown” twice as well as a liar directly and indirectly several times.

Sep 30, 2020

Overseas reaction to the first 2020 U.S. presidential debate was generally negative with one Chinese editor saying it was filled with “chaos, interruptions, personal attacks and insults” while an Australiana counterpart described it as “swamped” by the “rancour engulfing America.”

Sep 30, 2020

The Liberal government has survived a confidence vote early Wednesday morning as the House of Commons unanimously passed Bill C-4 legislation authorizing new benefits for workers left jobless or underemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill replaces the $500-per-week Canada emergency response benefit (CERB).

Sep 29, 2020

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux is projecting that the federal deficit for this fiscal year will reach $328.5 billion, due in no small way to an estimated $225.9 billion in emergency benefits due to COVID-19. Expected to be a major factor in future spending government-wide, it would represent 15 per cent of gross domestic product, the largest in more than 50 years of comparable data. The government said in July that the deficit would be $343.2 billion, but that did not include either new spending or emergency measures which came in under budget.

Sep 29, 2020

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand has announced a plan to buy some 7.9 million rapid point-of-care COVID-19 tests from U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories but procurement is subject to Health Canada regulatory approval. Reporting results from other testing can take days but the molecular ID NOW test can yield results within minutes.

Sep 29, 2020

A Quebec woman suspected of sending ricin-laced envelopes to the White House and to law enforcement officials in Texas remains in custody in New York. Pascale Ferrier, 53, has pleaded not guilty but a judge says there is “convincing material” that she continues to pose a threat. When arrested 20 September at the Buffalo border crossing from Fort Erie, Ont., she had a loaded pistol and other weapons in her possession as well as a forged Texas driver's licence.

Sep 29, 2020

Canadian softwood lumber is trapped in a World Trade Organization logjam created by the U.S. The White House has announced that it will appeal a recent WTO decision favouring Canada in the decades-long softwood lumber dispute but the WTO is unable to appoint the required judges because the U.S. has blocked their appointment. Ottawa’s response is that Washington’s move “significantly reduces the security and predictability that we collectively value in international trade.”

Sep 29, 2020

The Finnish telecom giant Nokia has contracted with British Telecom to provide 5G technology for BT’s “radio access network” as well as replacing its Chinese competitor, Huawei, in BT’s other networks. The government announced in July that all service providers would be prohibited from installing new Huawei technology next Jan. 1 and remove all existing installations by 2027 due to U.S.-driven national security concerns.

Sep 29, 2020

Mamadou Konaté, a refugee from Ivory Coast who worked as a custodian in Montreal long-term care facilities during the initial COVID-19 outbreak, now is in a migrant detention centre pending deportation. As an undocumented alien, he evidently is not covered by a provincial exemption for other asylum-seekers such as nurses and orderlies who worked in the facilities.

Sep 29, 2020

Draft legislation tabled in the new parliamentary session would set up what the minority government describes as a “safe bridge” for Canadians still losing income due to COVID-19. The proposed suite of measures in Bill C-2 would transition them from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to a modified employment insurance regime. It also would establish a 10-day sick leave benefit demanded by the NDP in return for its support to keep the Liberals in power.

Pages