In the News

May 13, 2022

Canada’s dairy supply management program can now add New Zealand to the roster of countries challenging its legitimacy. New Zealand’s trade minister, Damien O’Connor said May 12 that his government has initiated dispute settlement proceedings under the 2018 Trans-Pacific Partnership accord. “Our priority is to ensure that New Zealand exporters have meaningful access to the benefits negotiated under CPTPP, and that all parties fulfill the commitments they have made to each other.”

May 12, 2022

Profanity-laden harassment of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in Ontario this week “would rank among the worst experiences” of his political career. He said May 11 that the incident in Peterborough as he was campaigning for a provincial candidate reflected a worsening trend. “We should be able to disagree as a society respectfully, maybe even angrily, but it doesn't have to come to the point where it's getting so polarized that people's safety is at risk.”

May 12, 2022

The Finance Department has approved a $10-billion loan guarantee for Trans Mountain to help the pipeline company finish its expansion work. Responding to suggestions that this was tantamount to a fossil fuel subsidy, the department pointed out that “it does not reflect any new public spending” and that guarantees are “a common practice which puts in place an insurance policy for the institutions that have invested in the project.”

May 12, 2022

California’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic firearms to Americans under 21 has been declared unconstitutional in a 2-1 decision by a state appeals court. The tribunal said the 2019 law, the state’s response to a Republica-dominated Congress failure to address gun violence, was “an almost total ban” on the weapons. “America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army,” Judge Ryan Nelson wrote in restoring the age limit to 18.

May 12, 2022

Having reported what it claims to be its first confirmed coronavirus case since the pandemic began more than two years ago, North Korea is in national lockdown. State media say the Omicron outbreak occurred in the capital, Pyongyang, but did not disclose the number of cases. North Korea has rejected vaccination even when offered supplies by other countries.

May 12, 2022

As Canada continues to grapple with its history of residential schools’ abuse of indigenous children, U.S. government investigators reported May 11 that they had found at least 53 separate burial sites at Native American boarding schools where families were forced to send their children as part of an assimilation program. The initial findings have prompted officials to speculate that the number of victims could be in the tens of thousands.

May 12, 2022

The federal government has committed $3.5 million on two projects designed to improve abortion access in Canada. This comes as the U.S. seems headed for a judicial reversal of a decades-old Supreme Court legalizing the process and a potential increase in the number of American women seeking services in Canada.

May 12, 2022

A report released by two think-tanks May 11 states that senior government officials feel they are ill-equipped to gather evidence for policy advice and that they seem afraid to tell politicians the hard truths when evidence is found. The conclusions are based on mid-pandemic interviews with 42 senior bureaucrats and 2,355 public servants in various departments and agencies.

May 12, 2022

Poor management of personal protective equipment procurement in the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic wasted nearly $1 billion, Quebec’s auditor general said May 11. Guylaine Leclerc also reported that despite a rapidly-aging demographic, the province’s health ministry’s projected health care needs are 15 years out of date.

May 12, 2022

Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre said May 11 that he wins the leadership and a future general election, he would fire Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklim, deriding him as an “automated teller machine” for the Liberal government. “I would replace him with a new governor who would reinstate our low-inflation mandate,” the Ottawa MP said during a leadership debate.

May 12, 2022

The president and prime minister of historically non-aligned Finland today announced their support for the nation to apply for NATO membership, setting the stage for a parliamentary vote within a few days. There has been a dramatic shift in public support for the decision due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and similarly neutral Sweden is expected to follow suit.

May 11, 2022

The Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled that the federal government overstepped its constitutional authority with its Impact Assessment Act which would subject energy development to increased scrutiny. However, federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is confident that a further appeal will uphold the constitutionality of the legislation passed by Parliament in June 2019.

May 10, 2022

The namesake son of Ferdinand Marcos, the former Philippines dictator, evidently has scored a landslide win in the presidential election. Unofficial results today show that he captured 97 per cent of the vote. His running mate, Sara Duterte, daughter of the outgoing, had a formidable lead in the separate vice-presidential race.

May 10, 2022

Larisa Galadza, Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine, has returned to Kyiv to reopen the embassy but there’s no indication about full diplomatic restoration. The staff withdrew before Russian began its invasion Feb. 24 and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says consular services will continue out of Poland for the time being.

May 10, 2022

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Russia’s ambassador to Canada, Oleg Stepanov, has been spreading misinformation and propaganda to Canadians but she has no plans to expel him for fear of reciprocal action by Russia. She also says “the Canadian public is able to see through the lies of Vladimir Putin.”

May 10, 2022

The Competition Bureau wants to block a $26-million Rogers Communications takeover of Shaw Communications that was proposed a year ago. The regulator says the merger would lead to “higher prices, poorer service quality and fewer choices”, especially in the wireless sector.

May 10, 2022

A parliamentary committee’s attempts to learn more about the RCMP’s use of facial recognition were so unproductive May 9 that Conservative MP James Bezan called officials’ testimony “evasive.” The committee’s hearings are in response to a warning last year that the Clearview AI software violated Canadian privacy laws but Bezan said the officials’ “one-word answers and being dodgy is not fulfilling our work.”

May 08, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met today in Ukraine with his embattled counterpart, Volodomyr Zelenskyy, even as Russia was stepping up its invasion in some regions. Among other things, Trudeau promised more military assistance and announced more economic sanctions as well as financial support for the World Food Program, saying that “we will continue to do whatever is necessary to stand with Ukraine.”

May 08, 2022

As a statutory review of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unprecedented invocation of the Emergencies Act begins, a key architect of the legislation has suggested that a lack of commitment to release details of the discussions which prompted the PM to act against the “freedom convoy” earlier this year could be problematic. Former Conservative defence minister Perrin Beatty says the “the greatest level of transparency” is a must if there is to be public confidence in such actions by government.

May 08, 2022

Access to Canada's dairy market remains a “source of great frustration” which, together with the prolonged softwood lumber dispute, represent what U.S. International Trade Representative Katherine Tai calls “fundamental differences” in the countries’ approach to trade. Winding up a visit, which included meetings with International Trade Minister Mary Ng, she said May 8 that they are committed to “thrashing out the details for how we might be able to make some progress.”

May 08, 2022

U.S. First Lady Jill Biden met her Ukrainian counterpart, Olena Zelenska, met in Ukraine on Mother’s Day, Zelenska's first public appearance since Russian began invading her country Feb. 24. Biden’s visit coincided with a U.S. announcement of more sanctions against not only Russia but also neighbouring Belarus, where its autocratic leader has been openly supportive of Vladimir Putin.

May 08, 2022

As a general election looms May 21 in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today that his government would work with its allies to ensure that China does not set up a rumoured military base in the Solomon Islands. China’s growing Pacific presences has been a hot issue in the election campaign and Morrison has warned that a base in the Solomons would be crossing a “red line.”

May 06, 2022

A 19-year-old resident Windsor resident has been charged by the RCMP with participation in a terrorism organization arising from alleged participation in a neo-Nazi group. Believed to be the first such charge laid under the auspices of the Anti-Terrorism Act passed by Parliament in the wake of the September 2001 attacks on the U.S., it carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

May 06, 2022

An independent six-month study of repeat criminal offenders is being launched by the B.C. government as part of a plan to curb chronic crime and random attacks. The study is led by Doug Lepard, a former Vancouver deputy police chief, and Amanda Butler, a criminologist and health researcher with a focus on mental health, substance-use disorders, criminal justice systems and prison health.

May 06, 2022

A court in Belarus has sentenced a Russian student for six years in jail after finding her guilty of inciting social enmity and discord. Sofia Sapega and her dissident journalist partner were aboard a Ryanair flight to Lithuania which was forced to divert to Minsk where they were immediately arrrested or the orders of President Alexander Lukashenko.

May 06, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's recent comments about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's Jewish identity and “Nazis” in his government resulted in a flood of international dismay and outrage. Even so, one analysis feels that an examination of Lavrov’s “reckless” rationale is worthwhile.

May 06, 2022

Chinese leader Xi Jinping says anyone who questions his country’s “dynamic zero-tolerance” approach to the coronavirus pandemic can expect the Communist Party to “resolutely fight against any words and acts that distort, doubt or deny our country's epidemic prevention policies.” The politburo said May 5 that its policies “can stand the test of history” because “our measures are scientific and effective.”

May 06, 2022

A prominent Quebec-based firearms control lobby says federal regulations prohibiting ownership of a range of “assault-style” weapons are being circumvented by gun manufacturers. In a letter to MPs this week, it supported a proposed Criminal Code amendment which would broaden the definition of all weapons which fit that category.

May 06, 2022

The two perceived front-runners for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party, Ottawa MP Pierre Poilievre and former Quebec premier and federal cabinet minister Jean Charest, clashed vigorously May 5 during the first debate of the race to replace Erin O’Toole. The winner will be announced Sept. 10.

May 05, 2022

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he accepted an apology from Russian President Vladimir Putin today for remarks about the Holocaust made by Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Kremlin’s statement about the phone call did not mention the apology but did say both leaders had emphasized the importance of marking the Nazi defeat in the Second World War.

May 05, 2022

The latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment report, published last August, weighted its prediction modelling according to how it reproduced other evidence. Now there’s a call for the rest of the scientific community to do likewise so that there is useful consistency on how the phenomenon should be addressed.

May 05, 2022

Canadian foreign policy is generally outspoken in defence of human rights around the world, including support for Israel at the UN, but Amnesty International and others insist that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is nothing short of apartheid. The Palestinian Canadian Congress says there has been “deafening silence” in Ottawa and while Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is “very much aware of this report,” she flatly rejects the accusation.

May 04, 2022

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on a case which could return abortion jurisdiction to state governments, Minister of Families, Children & Social Development Karina Gould said May 3 that she could see no reason why U.S. women could not seek abortions in Canada. “If they . . . come here and need access, certainly . . . that’s a service that could be provided,” she said.

May 04, 2022

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament today that the 27-nation bloc should ban oil imports from Russia and target its largest bank and major broadcasters in a new sanctions package. “We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimizes the impact on global markets,” she said, conceding that getting unanimity would “not be easy.”

May 04, 2022

The federal privacy commissioner plans to investigate a “shocking” potential privacy breach that exposed personal information of dozens of whistleblowers at the Canada Revenue Agency whistleblowers available to all for months via public court documents. The investigation is in response to a n Opposition MP request after reports that the whistleblowers’ identities had become public as part of unrelated Federal Court proceedings.

May 02, 2022

A suggestion by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov May 1 that Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood” has infuriated Israel. His comment was an attempt to justify Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a move to “de-Nazify” the country even though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. “I could be wrong,” Lavrov said, “but Hitler also had Jewish blood” and Zelenskyy’s religion “means absolutely nothing” because “wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”

May 02, 2022

The European Union is in step with many other countries in sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine but is split internally when it comes to dependence on Russian energy supplies. EU ministers met May 2 in Brussels to discuss the situation but remain divided as they pursue alternatives.

May 02, 2022

Effective April 30, Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada has increased all fees for permanent resident applications. Covering economic, permit holder, family and humanitarian migrants, they are designed to align Canada with Australia, Britain, New Zealand and other countries with similar programs.

May 02, 2022

Police in Victoria police say that “freedom” protests in their city over nine weeks months racked up nearly $360,000 in overtime for uniformed and civilian staff. However, since the events focused on B.C. legislature, the costs are being covered by the provincial government.

May 02, 2022

Massachusetts-based Moderna plans a vaccine production facility in Montreal, potentially assuring long-term domestic supplies in the event of future viral outbreaks. “Our government promised to strengthen our capacity,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a joint announcement with Premier François Legault. The facility could be operational by 2024.

May 02, 2022

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP have been told they could be doing a better job of investigating extremism in the prison system. “One of the concerns we have is the lack of coverage over persons convicted of terrorism offences once they are in jail,” two national security experts say in an internal report. “Where a person has been convicted of a terrorism offence, it is likely that they will continue to adhere to an extremist ideology and influence others who will pose threats to national security upon release.”

May 02, 2022

A U.S. court has sentenced a British expatriate to life imprisonment for his involvement in an Islamic State hostage-taking cell nicknamed “the Beatles” whose actions resulted in the deaths of four U.S. hostages in Syria. Alexanda Kotey, 38, pled guilty last September to eight criminal charges relating to the abduction, torture and beheading of hostages.

May 02, 2022

A potential default on its foreign debt May 4 has been avoided by Russia paying US$650 million in interest. “There cannot be any talk of default,” Elvira Nabiullina, head of Russia’s central bank said April 29, acknowledging that there had been “difficulties with payments.” Her country holds some $40 billion in bonds on which interest must be paid in the currency specified.

May 02, 2022

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says it faces the same challenges as its U.S. counterparts, which struggled with inconsistent analysis and “a lack of consensus” in the weeks leading up to the January 2021 riot and invasion of the Capitol. A briefing note five months later includes CSIS observations for sharing with public safety, defence, immigration and justice department officials.

May 02, 2022

This being Mental Health Week across the country, the CEO of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association says it’s past time to address how law enforcement responds to calls from people in crisis. A 2019 review found that 70 per cent of deaths within 24 hours of police contact involved a “mental health issue.”

May 02, 2022

A large police presence in Ottawa over the weekend ensured that the “Rolling thunder” biker rally ended with more of a whimper than a bang. There were, however, a few confrontations which resulted in at least 10 arrests, some 40 vehicles being towed and more than 760 tickets issued.

Apr 29, 2022

Health Canada announced April 28 that it had approved Canadian Blood Services’ submission to eliminate the three-month donor deferral period for gay and bisexual men as well as some members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. Starting “no later than Sept. 30”, donors will be screened on the basis of higher risk sexual behaviours, regardless of gender or sexuality; CBS needs the time to train some 1,600 employees “so that they can have appropriate conversations with all of our donors.”

Apr 29, 2022

An all-party committee of the British Columbia legislature has recommended that the RCMP be replaced with a provincial police force. “It has become clear that transformative change is required to achieve a new vision of policing and community safety rooted in decolonization, anti-racism, community and accountability,” the committee said in its April 28 report.

Apr 29, 2022

Randy Hillier, an Independent member of the Ontario legislature who was ousted from the Conservative caucus over his often extremist views, was told April 27 that bail restrictions imposed after the “freedom convoy” protest in Ottawa earlier this year will remain in effect. He had sought to remove a condition barring him from the downtown core which is expected to be the scene of a large motorcycle rally this weekend, but the judge declined, saying Hillier has “an interesting record of not following the law.”

Apr 29, 2022

Hussein Sobhe Borhot of Calgary pled guilty April 28 to two of four terrorism-related charges arising from a stint as an ISIS sniper in Syria from May 2013 to June 2014. The 36-year-old told Court of Queen's Bench Justice David Labrenz, who adjourned the case to May for a sentencing hearing, that he had been inspired by a video game.

Apr 29, 2022

A parliamentary committee was told April 28 that more than 25 per cent of Canadians, some “with a sympathy toward violence”, evidently believe conspiracy theories. Université de Sherbrooke professor David Morin was explaining a report, based on the results of a national poll last summer, that he is preparing for the Quebec government. He also told the committee that there has been a 250 per cent increase in violent demonstrations in western countries over the past five years and that Canada saw a 25 per cent increase in hate crimes in 2020.

Apr 29, 2022

Premier Andrew Fahie of the British Virgin Islands has been charged in Miami with drug smuggling and money laundering. Drug Enforcement Agency officers, who had posed as a Mexican drug traffickers, say the politician had agreed to a £560,000 payment to allow traffickers to use the Caribbean territory’s ports. A BVI port official and her son also have been charged.

Apr 29, 2022

Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, told its milliions of users April 28 that it would begin publish their Internal Protocol Address on their account in an attempt to fight “bad behavior” online. The Communist Party said the country’s already prolific censors are not doing enough. Chinese users’ province or municipality are to be unveiled while users overseas will see their IP addresses displayed.

Apr 29, 2022

Environmental activists are taking Norway to the European Court of Human Rights in what is considered a potential international test case of how much of the Arctic’s natural resources can be exploited. Seven other countries, including Canada, have interests in the region but since it is mostly marine, there is no international Antarctic-style environmental treaty protecting it from economic development.

Apr 29, 2022

Chinese authorities are enforcing full or partial lockdowns in more than two dozen cities in a concerted push to address coronavirus outbreaks. An estimated 180 million people are affected by the measures with the largest concentrations in Beijing and Shanghai.

Apr 29, 2022

Government prosecutors in the Dominican Republic insist that a Canadian executive jet was being used to smuggle drugs to Toronto even though it was the Pivot Airlines crew that reported finding 210kg of cocaine on their aircraft. While the crew and a few passengers have been released from jail, they have been ordered to remain in the DR until an investigation is completed.

Apr 29, 2022

Canadians should be telling Ottawa and the provinces that it’s time to reduce taxes as revenues are “pouring” in government coffers. So says economist Jack Mintz, the President's Fellow of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. “With so much meddling in the economy, inefficient governments can’t even deliver good service with the money they have on hand,” he says. “Governments profit from more personal, corporate and sales/excise taxes as salaries rise and goods and services become more expensive. The only good news in all this is that federal and provincial budgets are close to being balanced, a goal that could actually be achieved with just a smidgeon of fiscal discipline.”

Apr 29, 2022

Logging and wildfires resulted in the loss of some 11.1 million hectares of tropical forest last year, resulting in increased global carbon emissions, says the Washington-based World Resources Institute. While the loss was less severe than in 2020, the WRI says deforestation, some of it deliberate, continues at an alarming rate.

Apr 28, 2022

A report on the relationship between the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP suggests that their information-sharing needs an overhaul, starting with why police are asked to make arrests on grounds of national security. In one profiled case, RCMP officers quit when asked to carry out an arrest without being told the reasons.

Apr 28, 2022

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who has a three-year parliamentary peace pact with the Liberals, said April 27 that it doesn’t extend to the government’s “failure” to meet its own targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. “Under the Liberals, every single target that's been set has failed to be met,” he said. They're not taking this seriously.”

Apr 28, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been formally labelled an act of genocide by the House of Commons, which unanimously approved a motion to that effect April 27 by Alberta MP Heather McPherson. “Sanctions have been implemented too slowly,” she said, urging the government to direct more funds to the International Criminal Court to ensure it has the resources to investigate atrocities in Ukraine.

Apr 27, 2022

That’s a question the Liberals and NDP hope to answer by having a special parliamentary committee examine unredacted documents which might explain the abrupt dismissal of two Chinese-Canadian scientists from the national microbiology laboratory in Winnipeg in January 2021. But the Conservatives want a regular committee to examine the papers, prompting accusations that they want to politicize the mystery.

Apr 27, 2022

B’nai Brith says antisemitism in Canada was at record levels last year, notably in British Columbia and Quebec. Its latest annual audit found 2,799 anti-Jewish hate crimes, a seven percent increase from 2020. They included not only vandalism of synagogues and swastikas in schools but also a seven-fold jump in violence such as physical attacks.

Apr 27, 2022

The federal government waited until the last possible day April 26 to begin a legislated public inquiry into its Feb. 14 invocation of the Emergencies Act to deal with a series of disruptive “freedom” protests in Ottawa and elsewhere earlier this year. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Ontario Appeal Court Justice Paul S. Rouleau as the inquiry commissioner with a mandate to report by Feb. 20 next year.

Apr 27, 2022

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly served notice April 26 that the government would amend change its sanctions law to permit the sale of seized and sanctioned foreign assets, using the revenues to compensate victims or to help rebuild a foreign state. “These changes would make Canada's sanctions regime the first in the G7 to allow these actions,” she said, zeroing in on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure on the Putin regime and impose severe costs for this war of choice.”

Apr 27, 2022

The federal government’s emissions reduction target may be unattainable, says its own Commissioner of the Environment & Sustainable Development. Jerry DeMarco said April 26 that he is particularly concerned about the role hydrogen will play in the energy mix. “Canada needs to be more upfront and transparent about their assumptions for what is quite an optimistic view,” he said. “They need to be realistic.”

Apr 27, 2022

A court in military-ruled Myanmar today found former leader Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of corruption, the latest verdict in a series of secret trials condemned by human right groups as shams. The previously-imprisoned 76-year-old Nobel laureate has been under house arrest since her elected government was overthrown in a February 2021 coup.

Apr 27, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping told senior officials April 26 that he wants “all-out efforts” on a massive infrastructure program he hopes will reboot his country’s economy which has been hit hard by coronavirus lockdowns. Among other things, he urged more projects in transportation, energy and water conservancy, as well as new supercomputing, cloud computing and artificial intelligence capabilities.

Apr 27, 2022

With a convoy of 500-1,000 motorcyclists expected to arrive in Ottawa this weekend for rallies near Parliament Hill and the Canadian War Museum, police say they are prepared to enforce the full letter of the law to ensure the situation remains peaceful. The “rolling thunder” organization includes a military veterans’ club which says its aim is to “restore fundamental freedoms for all” while upholding the law.

Apr 27, 2022

A former U.S. Marine, imprisoned in Russia in 2019 for allegedly assaulting police, has been freed in return for a Russian civilian pilot convicted on cocaine trafficking charges in 2010. Announced by the White House, the exchange, understood to have taken place in Turkey, was the result of “lengthy negotiations,” according to the Russian foreign ministry.

Pages