In the News

Mar 02, 2021

Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France from 2007 to 2012, has been found guilty of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced to a year in prison,. He was convicted for having tried to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about a legal action in which he was involved.

Mar 01, 2021

Efforts by the U.S. and Europe to bring Iran back to the nuclear negotiating table have been rebuffed. “Considering the recent actions and statements by the United States and three European powers, Iran does not consider this the time to hold an informal meeting,” an Iranian foreign minister official said Feb. 28.

Mar 01, 2021

Vaccines are known to be one of the most effective tools against infectious diseases, but the internationally-respected medical journal, The Lancet, says that vaccine refusal has accelerated in the U.S. over the past decade. It attributes the trend to, among other things, anti-vaccine activists.

Mar 01, 2021

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a penal colony to serve out a sentence the government is for embezzlement after voluntarily returning from Germany where he had undergone major medical help for an allegedly state-sanctioned poisoning. A court said that by having left the country, he had violated the terms of probation arising from the embezzlement charge.

Mar 01, 2021

Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations has been fired by military leaders who overthrew recent democratic elections. Kyaw Moe Tun had urged other countries not to cooperate with the junta until it restores the democratically elected government.

Mar 01, 2021

The U.N. says that at least 18 people were killed on the weekend during protests against Myanmar’s Feb. 1 coup. The military’s forceful response signalled a renewed determination to quash unrest which has seen thousand or protestors taking to the streets in major centres.

Feb 25, 2021

Amid ongoing complaints about Russian meddling in other countries’ affairs, President Vladimir Putin has directed his Federal Security Service to step up its response to what he says are western attempts to destabilize his country. He says the “so-called policy of containment of Russia” includes efforts to “derail our development, slow it down, create problems alongside our borders, provoke internal instability and undermine the values that unite the Russian society.”

Feb 25, 2021

More than 2,000 staff at the Communications Security Establishment, without a contract for two years, have voted to strike after what the Public Service Alliance of Canada says is management’s insistence on “a deal-breaking concession” and refusal to send the dispute for binding arbitration. The union says the proposed concession would mean lower pay than elsewhere in the government.

Feb 24, 2021

Foreign diplomats, unaccompanied minors, truckers and patients getting treatment abroad are among the travellers exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine when arriving in Canada by air. The government says that insofar as diplomats are concerned, it is bound by international convention.

Feb 24, 2021

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, says wealthier countries should not undermine arrangements for poorer countries to have access to COVID-19 vaccines. He notes that some countries have ordered enough to vaccinate their populations more than once.

Feb 24, 2021

A senior UN official says Iran committed multiple violations of human rights and international law in connection with the shooting down of Ukranian International Airlines Flight PS752 in January 2020. Among other things in a report, Special Rapporteur Agnès Callamard cites military operations near Tehran’s international airport.

Feb 24, 2021

Microsoft President Brad Smith says the U.S. must prepare a “robust menu” of responses to cyber attacks. He was commenting on the massive Solarwinds hack, which exposed the vulnerability of civilian government networks and the limitations of efforts to detect threats. “We need to strengthen the nation’s digital infrastructure and digital defenses, and that touches every part of the public sector, and every part of the private sector as well.”

Feb 24, 2021

One of the largest investigations into organized crime in Ontario has collapsed after police intercepted phone calls. Project Sindacato resulted in charges against nine persons alleged to have ties to Italian organized crime but prosecutors stayed charges when defence lawyers raised concerns that investigators committed “significant breaches of solicitor/client privilege.”

Feb 23, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden used their first bilateral meeting to promise an “ambitious new partnership roadmap, based on shared values and priorities” as their governments address climate change, the post-pandemic world and China’s detention of two Canadians in December 2019. “Job One remains keeping people safe,” the PM said today after the virtual meeting.

Feb 23, 2021

Government lawyers are in Court to argue that the Federal Court misapplied the law in July when it found the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S. violates constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security by allowing claimants to be returned to make their claim in the country where they first arrived.

Feb 23, 2021

A report by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies warns that even if the U.S. manages to keep its allies from using Chinese telecommunications technology, Beijing’s “digital silk road” strategy enables China to burrow into those countries' economies and infrastructure, creating dependencies that may ultimately weaken alliance ties.

Feb 23, 2021

Saab has been chosen to develop technology which could enable drones to fly safely in European airplace near civil aircraft. Ann-Kristin Adolfsson, who leads business development and strategy at the Swedish firm’s aeronautics arm, says that “while the project focus is on military unmanned aircraft, the technology is fully applicable to also civil systems.”

Feb 22, 2021

An Opposition motion declaring that China is committing genocide against its Uighur population was approved 266-0 in the House of Commons today with only the cabinet abstaining. The non-binding motion by the Conservatives’ foreign affairs critic, Michael Chong, was supported by more than 80 government MPs who were given a free vote.

Feb 22, 2021

The federal government has awarded IBM Canada a $1.5-million contract to develop an online passport application process but privacy and data protection advocates fear it could put personal information at risk. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada insists that “the privacy of Canadians and the safety of their personal information will be an absolute priority.”

Feb 22, 2021

Effective today, most travellers arriving at Canadian airports are required to be quarantined in a hotel for three days at their own expense. They also must complete multiple COVID-19 tests before their arrival as well as on arrival and during and on completion of the quarantine period.

Feb 22, 2021

Luca Attanasio, the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, was killed today in what authorities suspect was a botched kidnapping attempt. The ambassador was riding in a UN World Food Programme convoy near Goma. An Italian security officer and another individual also died.

Feb 22, 2021

On the heels of the return to service of its 737Max platform, Boeing is urging airlines to suspend the use of its 777 after one shed engine parts over Denver on the weekend. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered extra inspections of the 777’s twin Pratt & Whitney engines.

Feb 22, 2021

The new U.S. Secretary of Defense, former Army Gen Lloyd Austin III, wants NATO to help the U.S. counter a growing Chinese threat. He made the pitch during last week’s virtual meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers. “The United States is committed to defending the international rules-based order, which China has consistently undermined,” he said afterward. “NATO can help us better think through our operating concepts and investment strategies when it comes to meeting that challenge.”

Feb 22, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden’s declaration during an online conference that “the transatlantic alliance is back” signalled a renewed commitment to NATO, but his French counterpart had a different message Feb. 19 for the Munich Security Conference. Emmanuel Macron, who described the alliance in November 2019 as “brain dead,” said he is looking for a new transatlantic “security architecture.”

Feb 22, 2021

Hundreds of thousands of protesters returned to the streets in Myanmar in one of the largest demonstrations against the country's recent military coup. Businesses closed as employees joined a general strike, despite a military statement that said protesters were risking their lives by turning out. At least two demonstrators were killed Feb. 21.

Feb 22, 2021

Code developed by the U.S. National Security Agency evidently has been used by Chinese hackers, according to an Israeli company. Check Point Software Technologies reports that some aspects of “Jian” malware linked to China were so similar they could only have been stolen from National Security Agency software leaked in 2017.

Feb 22, 2021

South Korea has agreed to release “part” of nearly $10 billion in Iranian funds blocked by Seoul because of U.S. sanctions. The decision was confirmed by the Central Bank of Iran and South Korea’s ambassador in Tehran.

Feb 22, 2021

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star is back at its Seattle base after the first winter deployment of a U.S. government surface vessel since 1982. The only U.S. icebreaker rated for “heavy” ice, it transited the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea into the Chukchi Sea.

Feb 19, 2021

Two Canadians returning from Mexico have been fined a total of $17,000 for presenting “false or misleading” COVID-19 test results. Transport Canada says they “knowingly” boarded a Cancun-Montreal flight Jan 23 “after having tested positive for COVID-19 only a few days before their flight.”

Feb 19, 2021

Fifteen weeks after the former administration withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and the new leadership confirmed its plans, the U.S. has formally rejoined. “A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” President Joe Biden said in his Jan. 20 inauguration address just before signing an executive order on his first day in office. His administration has said it will present emissions-reduction targets before a global environmental summit in April.

Feb 19, 2021

Draft legislation introduced Feb. 18 in the House of Commons by Justice Minister David Lametti is designed to scrap many mandatory minimum penalties and give law enforcement officers options for handling persons with illegal drugs. “The criminal justice system is a terrible social service agency,” Lametti said after tabling Bill C-22, pointing out that Black and Indigenous prison populations are disproportionately high when compared with the national population.

Feb 19, 2021

A massive hack that may have revealed government and industry secrets to Russia evidently has U.S. officials scrambling to reinforce cyber defences after acknowledging that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency needs more resources to counter sophisticated attacks. “It's really highlighted the investments we need to make in cybersecurity to have the visibility to block these attacks,” says Anne Neuberger, newly-appointed Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emergency Technology.

Feb 18, 2021

The Canada Border Services Agency led a multi-agency cross-border investigation that has resulted in one arrest in Canada and six arrested by U.S. Homeland Security. A sophisticated operation has been disrupted from smuggling firearms, drugs and currency across the Canada-U.S. border in the Cornwall area. Officers seized 555 kg of marijuana; $467,480 in Canadian funds; $3,000 in U.S. currency; three loaded handguns and magazines; and five vehicles.

Feb 18, 2021

A House of Commons subcommittee’s accusation that China's treatment of its mostly Muslim Uighur population is tantamount to genocide has sparked a strong response from Beijing. “A rumour and a farce fabricated by some anti-Chinese forces,” was a foreign ministry officials’ response to the subcommittee’s report. “This is blatant interference in China's internal affairs and reflects those Canadian individuals' ignorance and prejudice.”

Feb 18, 2021

An Ontario resident has been charged in the U.S. along with three North Koreans with plotting to steal more than $1.3 billion from banks and businesses around the world. U.S. officials say that Ghaleb Alaumary of Mississauga, accused of being the group's money launderer, has agreed to plead guilty. The others are believed to be in North Korea.

Feb 18, 2021

An RCMP investigation has led to Travis Patron, the Saskatchewan-based leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party, being charged for promoting hatred through anti-Semitic postings on social media. “He's promoting some of the most vile and dangerous anti-Semitic tropes in history,” says Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of policy with the Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Feb 18, 2021

A B.C. government application for an injunction against three churches flouting COVID-19 rules has been rejected by the provincial supreme court’s chief justice. Christopher Hinkson explained in his ruling that while he does not condone the churches’ behaviour, he had “reservations that an injunction alone, without enforcement by the B.C. Prosecution Service, would overcome the deeply held beliefs of the petitioners.”

Feb 17, 2021

New COVID-19 variants are believed to be homegrown in the USA. With no naming system in place, and to avoid blaming the regions the variants were first identified, researchers are becoming creative but naming with no relativity poses its own complications. Seven variants carrying the same mutation were recently given avian nomenclature such as Pelican, Quail and Mockingbird. How do you remember the differences between the Kingfisher and Pigeon variants?

Feb 17, 2021

A proposed House of Commons committee would have a mandate to scrutinize “all aspects” of Canada’s economic relationship with the U.S. A Conservative motion to create the committee was endorsed Feb. 16 by the Liberals, New Democratic Party and Bloc Québécois MPs in a 326-3 vote.

Feb 17, 2021

Draft gun control legislation introduced Feb. 16 by the federal government as Bill C-21 would permit cities to tighten controls on handguns. However, a knowledgeable critic says that to be truly effective, the measure should be an outright federal ban.

Feb 17, 2021

An Ontario Superior Court judge, permitted to fly to the Turks and Caicos for “personal and confidential reasons” despite the COVID-19 pandemic, presided over her Toronto-area cases remotely. However, while the unnamed judge remains there, she has since been advised to stop handling cases.

Feb 16, 2021

Canada and a coalition of 57 other countries are endorsing an international declaration which denounces state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign nationals for political purposes. Spearheaded by former foreign affairs minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, the new initiative, which targets Russia, Iran and North Korea, flows from Canada’s push to have China release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, detained since December 2019.

Feb 16, 2021

Following up on a promise by then President Barack Obama in 2009 that he wanted to close the prison at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, President Joe Biden has ordered a review with the same intent. Obama’s plan was thwarted by domestic political opposition and Biden’s announcement drew some immediate criticism.

Feb 16, 2021

Claude Carignan, a Quebec Conservative Senator, has complained to the Commission of Official Languages about the recent report on GovGen Julie Payette’s behaviour having been only in English. “Persons targeted by the investigation and the witnesses who participated in it must . . . be able to consult this report in the official language of their choice,” he said Feb. 15.

Feb 12, 2021

Despite warnings by the international community that it was breaching a 2015 multinational agreement, Iran has begun producing uranium metal, one use of which is for weapons manufacturing. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors verified the existence of 3.6 grams at a facility in Isfahan. Iran continues to insist that its aims are peaceful as it continues to argue about economic sanctions with the U.S., which withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

Feb 12, 2021

The London-based HSBC bank is being sued by Huawei in a British court for access to documents as part of its effort to prevent deportation by Canada of its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, to the U.S. She was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018 at the request of the U.S., which claims she breached U.S. sanctions against Iran in her dealings with the bank. In apparent retaliation for her arrest, China detained two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, on allegations of espionage.

Feb 11, 2021

President Joe Biden has announced a review of how the U.S. is postured to deter China in the Pacific theatre. “It will require a whole of government efforts, bipartisan cooperation in Congress and strong alliances and partners,” he said Feb. 10. “That is how we will meet the China challenge.”

Feb 10, 2021

Alberta MP Shannon Stubbs remains the Conservatives’ public safety and emergency preparedness critic in the House of Commons after Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole shuffled his roster of critics today. Ontario MP Michel Chong remains foreign affairs critic. The shadow cabinet shuffle affected about a dozen caucus members, the most significant being O’Toole’s decision to reassign Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre from his role as finance critic to a jobs-and-industry role. Poilievre is succeeded by B.C. MP Ed Fast.

Feb 10, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau evidently is disinclined to update federal whistleblower legislation which makes it illegal for civil servants to publicly flag internal wrongdoings. While conceding that it is “extremely important” to have a workplace free from inappropriate behaviour, he declined Feb. 9 to explain his reluctance to improve protections. “The level of transparency and confidence a government can give Canadians in constantly improving and constantly doing better and sharing what we need to do to improve is something we have always been committed to.”

Feb 10, 2021

Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director David Vigneault says China is undermining Canada through its efforts to steal valuable technology and silence critics of Beijing's policies. “The government . . . is pursuing a strategy for geopolitical advantage on all fronts” and is “using all events, all elements of state power, to carry out activities that are a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty.”

Feb 10, 2021

Canadian officials are reviewing a recording in which a man identified as Iran’s foreign affairs minister is heard discussing the possibility that the January 2020 shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner with many Canadian passengers was intentional. Mohammad Javad Zarif, is heard saying that while a deliberate attack involving two or three “infiltrators” was “not at all unlikely,” his government would not disclose details because that could “open some doors into the defence systems of the country that will not be in the interest of the nation to publicly say.”

Feb 10, 2021

Nearly 200 British academics at more than 12 universities evidently are being investigated on suspicion of unwittingly helping China to build weapons of mass destruction. They are reported to have unknowingly breached export controls designed to protect intellectual property.

Feb 10, 2021

An unsuccessful attempt to hack into a Florida city’s water supply is seen as a wake-up call for the U.S. government to assess its protection of critical infrastructure. Officials in the city of Oldsmar and surrounding county say a “bad actor” managed to increase sodium hydroxide levels to potentially dangerous levels but that the hack was intercepted within a few minutes. Local authorities said that “everyone should be on notice.”

Feb 10, 2021

Effective Feb. 15, anyone arriving in Canada must have had a negative COVID-19 test result within the 72 hours prior to their arrival. In announcing the policy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Feb. 9 that while the government cannot prevent Canadians from returning to the country at a land border, even without a test, they can be fined up to $3,000 for non-compliance.

Feb 10, 2021

Self-employed Canadians who claimed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) based on misleading information from the government will not need to repay the funds. Initial guidance was that applications should have been based on gross income but the government later amended that to net income, resulting in the Canada Revenue Agency stating that “overpayments” had to be repaid.

Feb 09, 2021

The federal government is being urged by the Toronto-based Centre for Free Expression to amend whistleblower protection legislation. “Study after study has confirmed that insider tips . . . are the most effective way of detecting misconduct in organizations,” CFE Senior Fellow Ian Bron told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates Feb. 1.

Feb 09, 2021

Early data provided by the World Health Organization team in China suggests that COVID-19 could have been circulating for weeks before it was identified in Wuhan in December 2019. The WHO lead on the joint investigation with China, says it is “extremely unlikely” that the virus emerged as the result of a laboratory-related incident.

Feb 08, 2021

Virtually all personnel at U.S. military installations now must wear masks indoors and outdoors as well as practising social distancing as the Department of Defense steps up efforts to contain COIVID-19. An earlier directive essentially ignored outdoor activities.

Feb 08, 2021

More than 1,000 troops are being deployed to five COVID-19 vaccination centres, the first step in the new administration’s campaign to have at least 100 million citizens vaccinated in the first 100 days of Joe Biden’s presidency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked the Pentagon to supply as many as 10,000 personnel to staff 100 centres.

Feb 08, 2021

President Joe Biden says the U.S. will not lift economic sanctions against Iran until it complies with a multinational nuclear agreement from which his predecessor withdrew in 2018. However, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says negotiations will only resume if the U.S. lifts its sanctions.

Feb 06, 2021

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has frozen the assets of a former Saudi intelligence chief now living in exile in Toronto. Charged at home with having embezzled billions of dollars, Saad Aljabri has luxury properties in several countries, including Canada. Aljabri says the case is “political motivated” by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Feb 06, 2021

As several other jurisdictions across Canada consider relaxing COVID-19 controls, British Columbia is extending its lockdown indefinitely. Officials said Feb. 5 that while the province has made “encouraging” progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19, but the situation isn't stable enough to allow people to start getting together again.

Feb 06, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden said his predecessor’s “erratic behaviour” should preclude him from having access to classified intelligence briefings. “What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” Biden responded rhetorically when asked about the possibility of the historical practice continuing.

Feb 06, 2021

Diplomats from Germany, Sweden and Poland have been expelled from Russia for joining protests in support of opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who was jailed earlier this week. The foreign ministry accused them of have participated in the “illegal demonstrations.”

Feb 06, 2021

The International Criminal Court, which has never been recognized by the U.S., is claiming jurisdiction over territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 Mideast war. The decision opens up the prospect of investigations into alleged war crimes by Israel. Washington has expressed “serious concerns” about the court’s “attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”

Feb 06, 2021

A deadlock over the appointment of a new director general at the Geneva-based World Trade Organization is over. The U.S. has expressed “strong support” for former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who had been the frontrunner until the Trump administration said it preferred South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee.

Feb 05, 2021

The Canadian Armed Forces reservist arrested on the grounds of Government House last July after ramming the main gates with his truck pleaded guilty today to eight charges. The charges against Manitoba resident Correy Hurren included possessing firearms for “a purpose dangerous to the public peace.”

Feb 05, 2021

In a Feb. 4 speech to the U.S. diplomatic community, President Joe Biden announced a policy reset at home and abroad, effectively moving to undo many of his predecessor’s initiatives. “America is back,” he said during a State Department visit, hoping “to begin the habits of cooperation and rebuilding the muscles of democratic alliances that have atrophied from four years of neglect and abuse.” He also announced an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in Yemen.

Feb 04, 2021

Renewal of the 2010 New START nuclear arms treaty is an opportunity for the U.S. to press for “verifiable limits” on Russian strategic weapons, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Feb. 3. “Extending the . . . treaty makes the United States, U.S. allies and partners, and the world safer” because “unconstrained nuclear competition would endanger us all.”

Feb 04, 2021

An Iranian diplomat posted in Austria has been sentenced by a Belgian court to 20 years after being charged with plotting to bomb a rally by Iranian expatriates in France in 2018. Isadollah Assadi was one of four persons arrested in a joint operation by German, French and Belgian police.

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