In the News

Jan 06, 2022

A group of “influencers” and reality TV performers from Quebec could be facing fines up to $5,000 and potential jail time after video showed them partying and ignoring coronavirus rules on a recent Sunwing charter to Mexico from Montreal. The federal transport, health and public safety departments are investigating and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was “a slap in the face to see people putting themselves, putting their fellow citizens, putting airline workers at risk by being completely irresponsible.”

Jan 06, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron is accused of using divisive, vulgar language when he said he wanted to make life difficult for people who refuse coronavirus vaccinations. “I really want to piss them off, and we'll carry on doing this - to the end,” he said. Critics said his language was unworthy of a leader three months ahead of an election and MPs immediately halted debate on proposed law which would bar the unvaccinated from much of public life.

Jan 06, 2022

Two off-duty U.S Air Force officers flying commercially to Canada from Germany for a holiday Dec. 29 helped to restrain another passenger who became rowdy on their flight, issuing threats “and thereby endangered the safety of the plane.” The unruly passenger was handed over to police on the Lufthansa flight’s arrival in Toronto.

Jan 06, 2022

The northern Chinese city of Xi’an, under a tight coronavirus lockdown for the past two weeks, is reported to have seen a reduction in the number of new cases among its 13 million residents. The National Health Commission said Jan. 5 that there had been only 35 new cases compared with 95 the day before and that there has been a steady decline since daily cases topped 100.

Jan 06, 2022

A Colombian national allegedly involved in last July’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise was deported to the U.S. from Panama this week. Mario Palacios is charged in Florida with conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the U.S. “and providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap.”

Jan 06, 2022

Prime Minister Ariel Henry of Haiti was the target of an unsuccessful attempted assassination last weekend as he participated in an independence day celebration. The security situation has deteriorated significantly since the killing of President Jovenel Moïse last July and Henry has promised to crack down on gangs blamed for a wave of kidnappings and seizing control of much of the gasoline distribution around the country.

Jan 06, 2022

An online legal briefing for relatives of victims of Ukrainian Airlines PS752 was interrupted this week by hackers playing loud music and showing violent images. The briefing followed an Ontario court ruling that the families of six victims of Iran’s shootdown of the airliner two years ago were entitled to $107 million. The hack began shortly after one lawyer said that “if anybody from the Islamic Republic of Iran is on this call . . . we're coming after your assets.”

Jan 05, 2022

A virtual meeting of NATO foreign ministers is scheduled for Jan. 7 to assess the situation in Ukraine. The extraordinary meeting of the 30 alliance members kicks off a week of intense diplomacy over troop buildups along the Ukrainian border with Russian and U.S. officials meeting in Geneva Jan. 12 followed by talks in Vienna of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna.

Jan 05, 2022

Despite attempts by two U.S. administrations to shut down the military’s terrorist detention and trial facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, the Department of Defense has begun a $4-million courtroom expansion. Public attendance at trials in the original Camp Justice courtroom will still be permitted but the new courtroom will only be viewable remotely through a “virtual gallery with multiple camera angles.”

Jan 05, 2022

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reported Jan. 4 that the country’s 100 highest-paid corporate executives averaged $10.9 million in compensation in 2020, up some $95,000 or 0.87 per cent from 2019. CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald combined base salaries, cash bonuses and stock options in calculating the averages. David Klein, CEO of the Ontario-based cannabis company Canopy Growth, reportedly topped the latest ranking at just over $45 million.

Jan 05, 2022

Kevin J. Johnston, a former Toronto resident who once tried to become mayor of Calgary, was arrested by U.S. authorities Jan. 4 after crossing on foot into Montana from Saskatchewan. He was sought for evading jail terms for defamation and inciting followers to defy coronavirus restrictions.

Jan 05, 2022

Families of Canadian victims of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, which was shot down by Iran's Revolutionary Guard two years ago, have been awarded $107 million in damages by an Ontario court. However, their lawyer admits that getting Iran to pay will be difficult because most of Iran’s foreign assets are believed to be held outside Canada.

Jan 04, 2022

In a criminal complaint filed with the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office, 19 Uighur Muslims are accusing Chinese officials of genocide, torture, rape and crimes against humanity. Their lawyer said Jan. 4 that the decision to work through Turkey was due to international bodies having failed to act.

Jan 04, 2022

Canada has lost its first dispute under the new North American trade agreement as a tribunal agreed with a U.S. complaint that Canada broke a promise to allow slightly more dairy imports by imposing complicated rules. The U.S. says Canada now has several weeks to comply with the ruling but “the end goal is not to put retaliatory tariffs in place.”

Jan 04, 2022

The government and First Nations leaders today unveiled details of their agreement-in-principle to provide $20 billion in compensation to children and their families harmed by an underfunded child welfare system and to spend an equivalent amount on long-term reforms

Jan 04, 2022

The two largest U.S. telecoms, AT&T and Verizon, are delaying their rollout of 5G infrastructure near airports until Jan. 19, averting feared widespread disruptions to air travel and shipping as well as a potential legal battle. The chief concern is potential interference with some aircraft altimeters but AT&T said Jan. 3 that “aviation safety and 5G can coexist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues.”

Jan 04, 2022

In the run-up to the Winter Olympics early next month, more than 14 million residents of two Chinese cities are in complete coronavirus lockdown, the latest being Yuzhou with a population of 1.1 million after three asymptomatic cases were confirmed. It follows a Dec. 23 lockdown in Xi’an where 13 million are confined to their homes.

Jan 04, 2022

Charles M. Lieber, a Harvard University professor and government-funded nanotechnology researcher, has been found guilty by a U.S. federal court of lying to the Department of Defense and other authorities about his ties to China. The jury finding is seen as a victory for the Justice Department amidst a crackdown on academic espionage. Lieber was arrested in January 2020 and evidence against him included a contract paying him $50,000 a month for work with the Wuhan Institute of Technology.

Jan 04, 2022

New restrictions that close schools to in-person learning, prohibit indoor dining, shuts down gyms and imposes capacity limits on retailers were announced Jan. 3 by Ontario Premier Doug Ford. With coronavirus cases soaring in the province, the new restrictions will remain in effect for at least two weeks as the government faces what Ford called “a tsunami of new cases in the days and weeks ahead” which could overwhelm the health care system.

Jan 04, 2022

As the coronavirus evolved over the past two years, misinformation has erupted into a pandemic of its own and Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Strang blames it mainly on U.S. social media platforms. Much of it attributable to former President Donald Trump’s penchant for tailoring information to suit his agenda. “That set a precedent and allowed that to happen,” Strang says. “All the stuff that I see here has very direct routes back to the U.S.”

Jan 03, 2022

Against a global backdrop of increased regional tensions, the five permanent UN Security Council members, all nuclear powers, promised today to prevent further proliferation and ensure a nuclear war is never fought. In a rare joint statement, Britain, France, China, Russia and the U.S. said they “We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented” and that “a nuclear war cannot be won.”

Jan 03, 2022

The Quebec government has imposed its second curfew since the coronavirus pandemic began, banning people from being outside their homes overnight and from holding indoor gatherings. Other limits include the closing of restaurant dining areas, limits on religious gatherings and the suspension of indoor sports. An immediate publish pushback resulted in Montreal police issuing tickets and arresting one woman for assault.

Jan 03, 2022

In a bid to contain the accelerating spread of the coronavirus Omicron variant, the French government has reduced isolation times for vaccinated people, reduced the interval between shots, and is moving to further isolate the unvaccinated.

Jan 03, 2022

Police in Amsterdam have had to deal with thousands of demonstrators who gathered in the Dutch capital to protest coronavirus lockdowns and vaccinations. An emergency order by Mayor Femke Halsema ordered the city’s central Museum Square cleared Dec. 2 after a mostly unmasked mob violated a ban on public gatherings during the latest pandemic wave of infections.

Jan 03, 2022

A European Commission plan to designate some natural gas and nuclear generating stations as “green” has drawn immediate criticism from Germany. “It is necessary to recognise that the fossil gas and nuclear energy sectors can contribute to the decarbonisation of the Union's economy,” the EU said Dec. 1. Germany's environment minister, whose government confirmed the day before that it was shutting down half of her country’s nuclear power plants, called the plan “absolutely wrong.”

Jan 01, 2022

An agreement-in-principle with First Nations groups would see half of a $40-billion federal commitment earmarked for adults who went through the child welfare system with the other half directed toward reforms.

Dec 31, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden has urged his Russian counterpart to ease tensions along the Ukraine border or face more economic sanctions if Vladimir Putin opts to invade his neighbour. Putin, who had requested their 50-minute phone call, said new sanctions would be a “colossal mistake.” Athough the call yielded no major breakthroughs, officials on both ends said it had set the tone for scheduled diplomatic talks in Geneva in January.

Dec 31, 2021

The UN World Food Programme suspended operations in Sudan’s North Darfur state today following raids on its warehouses in the capital this week. “This theft has robbed nearly two million people of the food and nutrition support they so desperately need,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “Not only is this a tremendous setback to our operations across the country, but it endangers our staff.”

Dec 31, 2021

Three of Germany’s six nuclear power stations were being shut down today, a year earlier than planned by the government two decades ago. The government says the three others will be decommissioned in 2022 and that it would stop the use of coal-fired power generation by 2030 as Germany pushes to become “climate neutral” by 2045.

Dec 31, 2021

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today that his country will move to “eliminate unacceptable threats” and take “all necessary measures to ensure a strategic balance” if the U.S. and NATO don’t respond to security demands. He also said his ministry would not allow “endless discussions” as tensions simmer between Moscow and Western powers over Ukraine.

Dec 30, 2021

South Africa said today that health department data suggest that the country had passed an Omicron peak without a major spike in the more transmissible COVID-19 variant. “The speed with which the . . . wave rose, peaked and then declined has been staggering,” said Fareed Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council. “Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two . . . was a flash flood more than a wave.”

Dec 30, 2021

International Memorial, one of Russia's oldest human rights groups, has been ordered shut down by the Supreme Court. The organization, which had focused on Soviet-era persecution, imprisonment and executions of innocent persons had been censured previously but the court now has labelled it a “public threat” financially supported by foreign interests.

Dec 30, 2021

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says an “abusive tweet” sent to the President of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Katharine Smart, “poses risks to the health and safety of health-care workers.” The tone of the social media post was clearly threatening and while Twitter Canada deleted the source account it did not remove the tweet itself.

Dec 29, 2021

Several European countries and the U.S. are reporting their highest daily increases in confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, notably due to the more aggressive Omicron variant. More than 440,000 new cases were recorded in the U.S. Dec. 27 and England, France, Italy, Greece and Portugal also had record counts.

Dec 29, 2021

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said today that the EU should play an active role in the upcoming U.S.-Russia talks over security concerns around Ukraine. “European security is our security,” he said. “This is not simply the case for two states, i.e. America and Russia, or NATO and Russia — even if Moscow imagines it.”

Dec 28, 2021

Jan. 10 has been set for talks between U.S. and Russian officials about their military activities amidst rising tensions over Ukraine. The U.S. administration says these talks are expected to be followed Jan. 13 by a broader meeting between Russia and NATO.

Dec 27, 2021

As the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 becomes further entrenched in Canada and elsewhere, there are growing concerns about the capacity of health care facilities and their staff to deal with it. As of early today, more than 279.9 million cases of COVID-19 overall had been reported worldwide and the death toll had topped 5.4 million.

Dec 24, 2021

Prime Minister Viktor Orban says Hungary plans to stick with controversial immigration legislation despite a European Union ruling that Hungarian law breaches EU law by criminalizing lawyers and activists who help asylum seekers. It also prevents asylum seekers from applying for status if they arrive from a country where their lives are deemed not to be at risk.

Dec 24, 2021

Britain’s Supreme Court has prevented Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from gaining access to £1.4 billion in gold stored at the Bank of England. Maduro had said the gold would used to fund coronavirus campaigns but the latest ruling, which overturned a Court of Appeal decision, means that only Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, widely considered the country’s legitimate leader after questionable elections, can decide the gold’s future.

Dec 24, 2021

Japan has approved a supplementary budget equivalent to some US$317 billion which includes additional funding for missile defense systems and other military technologies in the current fiscal year. However, the funding largely is meant for additional coronavirus measures as well as funding to support families and the country’s tourism industry.

Dec 24, 2021

The European Union has begun legal action against Poland for ignoring EU law and undermining judicial independence. Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki says the bloc’s action reflected “bureaucratic centralism” that “has to be stopped.”

Dec 24, 2021

The Belgian government announced Dec. 23 that it has an agreement in principle with a power utility to permanently shut down seven nuclear reactors at two sites by 2025. There have been regional concerns due to a series of temporary shutdowns in recent years at the reactors, some of which date to the 1970s, and the plan now is to start closing them down in 2022 with decommissioning and demolition by 2045.

Dec 23, 2021

A Moscow court fined California-based Google the equivalent of US$98.4 million today over the company’s failure to delete locally-banned content. The penalty, based on Google’s revenues, is part of a campaign against large western technology companies, including demands that Russians’ personal data be stored on domestic servers.

Dec 23, 2021

Canadian health authorities reported 14,995 COVID-19 cases Dec. 22, a record since the pandemic began. It comes amid a steady rise which was 11,690 new cases the day before and 10,665 two days earlier. Data also show that the seven-day average is at a record 10,488 and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam said “modelling shows that by the beginning of January we could have very high number of cases, which underscores the need to act urgently now to reduce the acceleration.”

Dec 23, 2021

Quebec Liberal MP Yves Robillard, a member of the Standing Committee on National Defence, has censured by the party’s Chief Whip for ignoring advice about non-essential international travel as the pandemic continued to spread. Whip Steve MacKinnon said Dec. 22 that even though Robillard is “fully vaccinated,” he is being removed from committee duties as punishment.

Dec 22, 2021

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread across the country in a fifth wave of the pandemic, threatening to overload health care facilities again, provinces and some cities are hunkering down with pre-Christmas prevention measures that include renewed quarantine and testing requirements as well as tighter limits on public and private gatherings.

Dec 22, 2021

Canada has told the U.S. to expect a legal challenge to the latest protectionist move against softwood lumber. Trade Minister Mary Ng pointed out Dec. 21 that the doubled duties will impact the U.S. residential and that she expects the challenge to succeed. However, several earlier challenges upheld by trade tribunals have essentially been ignored by the U.S.

Dec 21, 2021

Prince Edward Island announced today that it is putting in place additional coronavirus controls in place, including reinstatement of quarantine for anyone arriving from out of the province. They must self-isolate for four days after undergoing two rapid tests on arrival and two more on the second and fourth day of quarantine, after which can leave if both are negative. If a traveller opts to isolate with others, the entire group or family must isolate.

Dec 21, 2021

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante declared a state of emergency today as COVID-19 cases surged there and elsewhere ins Quebec. “With the number of cases that are just going up with the Omicron variant, we want to be ready if there's an outbreak in a shelter, for example,” said Plante, who tested positive on the weekend.

Dec 21, 2021

The International Air Transport Association reports that the number of unruly passenger incidents, most involving passengers who refused to heed coronavirus masking rules, doubled in 2020 and the trend evidently has continued this year. Of more than5,400 reports in the U.S. so far, nearly 4,000 involved anti-maskers while in Canada, 1,093 incidents involving masks had been reported to the end of October.

Dec 21, 2021

As the federal government and parties in the House of Commons wrestle with the fallout from Quebec legislation banning public service employees from wearing religious symbols at work, the government has appointed to Quebec Superior Court a Montreal lawyer who has challenged the law. Debate in the province and in Parliament has heated up since a teacher in a town near Ottawa was reassigned after wearing a hijab in her classroom.

Dec 21, 2021

Contrary to reports last week that they were released by their Haitian kidnappers after two months in captivity, a group of U.S.-based missionaries – including a Canadian and children – managed to escape during the night.

Dec 20, 2021

As Canada continues to think about the national security implications of 5G technology, already prohibited by several allies, Airbus and Boeing say the impending rollout of 5G for telephone services could have “an enormous negative impact” on civil aviation. In a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the companies’ CEOs cite research indicating that if 5G been in effect two years ago, interference with aircraft systems could have resulted in hundreds of thousands of flight delays, diversions or cancellations.

Dec 20, 2021

The Canada Revenue Agency has been told by Taxpayers Ombudsman François Boileau that it must do a better job informing clients of their options when they are impacted fiancially by the coronavirus pandemic. “More can be done,” he says in his latest report. “Although the CRA provides information on solutions for hardship, it is not readily available” and the result is that calls for intervention by his office have doubled, mainly related to COVID-19 benefits.

Dec 20, 2021

A 10-year-old Afghan girl preparing to come to Canada was recently killed at Taliban roadblock and retired MGen David Fraser, who commanded NATO troops in Kandahar, says her death shows that the federal government isn’t moving fast enough to patriate its former allies. The girl’s father had worked for the Canadian Armed Forces in Kandahar, and Kynan Walper, chief operations officer at a group helping them, agrees that “this young girl is dead because of delays in getting people over here.”

Dec 20, 2021

The International Energy Agency said rising thermal coal consumption by power plants in China, India and the U.S. could mean record global demand once final figures for 2021 are available. The UN agency says coal-fired generation is projected at 10,350 terawatt-hours, up nine per cent from 2020 due to economic recovery which has “pushed up electricity demand much faster than low-carbon supplies can keep up.”

Dec 20, 2021

New York Attorney General Letitia James is being sued by a dozen gun industry stakeholders which are challenging the constitutionality of a law which permits manufacturers and distributors to be taken to court if their weapons are used to commit crimes. The unprecedented legislation was passed by the state legislature last July.

Dec 20, 2021

Toronto-based Dominion Voting Systems is being permitted to move forward in a defamation lawsuit against Fox News over the network’s allegations of voting inaccuracies in the 2020 U.S. election. The ruling by a Delaware Superior Court judge enables Dominion to continue seeking access to gather evidence for the suit and possibly get sworn statements from network executives.

Dec 20, 2021

A senior official in the current U.S. administration is quoted as saying that Iran has been “rapidly accelerating” its nuclear program since the previous administration withdrew from an international agreement in 2018. The deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. traded sanctions relief for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and the official reportedly says Iran’s resumption of development “should not have been a surprise to anybody that knows Iranian behavior.”

Dec 20, 2021

Nuclear reactors are seen as a key factor in the global effort to combat global warming by curbing greenhouse gas emissions but memories of reactor accidents in Japan, Ukraine and he U.S. continue to fuel skepticism and fear. Coupled with upfront capital costs and the advent of wind and solar power sources, which also have critics, are deterring potential investment.

Dec 20, 2021

The federal government is refusing to explain its decision to abandon a compensation lawsuit against Catholic church over the treatment of indigenous children at residential schools. Some of more than a dozen current or former cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats have said they likely have relevant documents but have declined to make them public.

Dec 20, 2021

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says it’s “unlikely” that NATO allies would deploy troops to defend Ukraine against a Russia invasion. “We shouldn’t kid people we would,” he says, and “the Ukrainians are aware of that” because their country is not a NATO member. As Russia insists that troops buildups along its borers with Ukraine are not a prelude to invasion, Wallace says Britain remains diplomatically “shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine.”

Dec 20, 2021

Anthony Rota was the first House of Commons Speaker in more than a century to publicly rebuke a veteran civil servant when he hauled Public Health Agency of Canada President Iain Stewart before the bar for refusing to provide documents pertaining to the PHAC’s secrecy-shrouded dismissal of two Chinese scientists. “That is not something I enjoyed, let’s put it that way,” he says, explaining that he was obliged to do so by parliamentary procedure.

Dec 20, 2021

As the federal government advises Canadians to avoid non-essential travel and reinstates mandatory rapid-testing for returning travellers as the coronavirus Omicron variant spreads, policies vary across the country with individual jurisdictions implementing additional restrictions and quarantine requirements.

Dec 17, 2021

Mexico’s economic minister is planning a multi-front effort with her Canadian counterpart against a proposed U.S. electric vehicle tax credit which poses a significant threat to Canadian and Mexican automotive industries. Both minister say the plan, which seems stalled in Congress for now, say the proposal breaches the North American free trade pact.

Dec 17, 2021

A Canadian and 11 other members of a U.S.-based missionary group of 17 kidnapped by a gang in Haiti two months ago have been freed. The remaining five had been released earlier.

Dec 16, 2021

The world's public and private sectors were urged today by the JPMorgan International Council to collaborate more on countering cyber threats, which one member, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, calls “the most dangerous weapon in the world politically, economically and militarily.” An international corporate panel, the New York-based council has 250 members from 19 countries who convene annually.

Dec 16, 2021

Canadians are being urged by the federal government to avoid non-essential foreign travel as the global spread of the coronavirus Omicron variant accelerates. “Now is not the time to travel,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Dec. 15, stressing that the advice applies to everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, because they could “contract the virus or get stranded abroad.”

Dec 15, 2021

There now have been more than 800,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19, the highest national confirmed toll in the global pandemic. Most victims have the unvaccinated and the elderly and an estimated 100,000 deaths have occurred since September.

Dec 15, 2021

The World Health Organization said today that the coronavirus Omicron variant is spreading globally at an unprecedented rate with cases confirmed in 77 countries and suspected in any others. “Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems.”

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