In the News

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.

Apr 27, 2022

Russia stopped supplying natural gas to Bulgaria and Poland today, ostensibly for refusing to pay in roubles but more likely in retaliation for European economies’ support for sanctions over the war in Ukraine. Accusations by European leaders of “blackmail” were immediately dismissed by the Kremlin.

Apr 25, 2022

Internet platforms are targetted by new European Union legislation designed to fight misinformation as well as banning online ads based on subscribers’ ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Approved on the weekend, the Digital Services Act requires companies to remove hate speech, terrorist propaganda and other content considered illegal by EU members. Last month, the 27-nation bloc passed a Digital Markets Act designed to counter anticompetitive behavior.

Apr 25, 2022

The Prime Minister’s official residence in Ottawa, 24 Sussex Drive, falls “far short” in comparison with other national leaders’ residences, says the National Capital Commission. Despite more than $6.5 million in renovations in recent years, it’s estimated that the ostensibly historic home on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River and Quebec needs some $36.6 million in repairs. Prime Minister Trudeau has refused to take up residence and the NCC estimates it would cost at least $40 million dollars to tear down and rebuild.

Apr 25, 2022

The deaths of several Russian oligarchs and some family members in Russia and Spain in recent weeks ostensibly involved murder-suicide but police still consider the circumstances suspicious due to forensics issues. The deaths are reportedly the latest of four senior Russian oil executives whose companies have been sanctioned over the Ukraine invasion.

Apr 25, 2022

The Ottawa Police Service says the federal government will cover all costs incurred during the “freedom convoy” protest that paralyzed the capital’s downtown for several weeks earlier this year. The overall policing costs, including RCMP support, amounted to some $35 million.

Apr 25, 2022

The federal government is being sued by a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who was held without trial. Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian who lived briefly in Montreal and now resides in The Netherlands, is seeking $35 million in damages on grounds that faulty Canadian intelligence contributed to his detention.

Apr 25, 2022

Oleg Stepanov, Russia’s Ambassador to Canada, supports his country’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. “I stand with my president and I stand with the troops on the ground,” he said on the weekend, denying accusations that they are committing war crimes and targetting civilians. “Here at the embassy, we are 100 per cent confident that we stand on the right side of history.”

Apr 25, 2022

The Communications Security Establishment says finding recruitment a challenge even though the government has pledged nearly $1 billion to bolster cybersecurity. The CSE receives 10,000-15,000 job applications annually but only one or two applicants are hired. “Recruitment for high-tech organizations remains challenging and highly competitive,” spokesman Evan Koronewski says. “At CSE, the same is true due to the specific technical competencies we require for many of our positions, the necessary security clearances, and the current requirement for successful candidates to relocate to the National Capital Region.”

Apr 25, 2022

Slovenia's populist prime minister, Janez Jansa, seeking a fourth term in office, has been defeated in parliamentary elections by a left-leaning party formed only in January. Jansa's party won some 24 per cent of the vote, compared with 34.5 per cent won by the Freedom Movement party, led by businessman Robert Golob, who says he will lead Slovenia “back to freedom” from allegedly increasingly repressive governance.

Apr 25, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron has secured a second five-year term in office, capturing 58.55 per cent of the April 24 run-off vote despite an improved showing by right-wing challenger Marine Le Pen, who finished with 41.45 per cent. One issue facing voters was the prospect that a Le Pen vote could mean France’s withdrawal from NATO.

Apr 25, 2022

Even though the Canadian Judicial Council cleared Tax Court Justice David Spiro of intervening improperly in the hiring of a human rights director at the University of Toronto, the Federal Court of Canada has been asked to review the CJC decision. Muslim and Arab-Canadian groups have asked why the Jewish judge, accused of anti-Palestinian bias, was cleared without a disciplinary hearing.

Apr 25, 2022

Saudi Arabia appears to be banking on Republicans regaining control of Congress in next November’s midterm elections by not only refusing to sanction Russia for its Ukraine invasion, but also by placing $2 billion in a new investment fund run by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. The kingdom’s de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, reportedly declined to take a call from President Joe Biden last month and a former British ambassador suspects the Saudi leader “is betting on the Republicans winning big in the midterms and then regaining the presidency – with or without Trump.”

Apr 24, 2022

Effective April 25, some of Canada’s pandemic border restrictions are being eased for those who are fully vaccinated and for children aged five to 11 regardless of their vaccination status as long as they are accompanied by a vaccinated parent or guardian. Pre-entry remains mandatory for eligible party-vaccinated or unvaccinated visitors aged 12 and up and vaccine mandates remain in effect for boarding aircraft, trains or cruise ships.

Apr 24, 2022

David Cohen, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, says he has been assured Canada will follow through this year on crucial investments to modernize Arctic defences, even though this month's budget included no specific funding. He says he has pressed the issue in “candid conversations” with senior cabinet ministers and although this “this budget does not include funding for NORAD, for modernizing and improving the northern defence for Canada and for the United States . . . it will be forthcoming during the course of this fiscal year.”

Apr 24, 2022

Premiers, mayors, intelligence and military officials and a few journalists are now banned from entering Russia following the latest round of sanctions announced by President Vladimir Putin's regime. All are accused by the foreign ministry of involvement “in the development, substantiation and implementation of the Russophobic course of the ruling regime in Canada.”

Apr 22, 2022

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern says her country has been aware for some time of China’s “growing assertiveness” in the South Pacific, most recently manifest in a “disappointing” security pact with the Solomon Islands. However, she says, her country has a “a mature relationship” with China and there is an ongoing need to cooperate on areas of “natural mutual interest.”

Apr 22, 2022

Results of a new Angus Reid Institute national poll published April 21 indicate that Canadians are deeply divided on support for the monarchy. It found that 51 per cent of respondents favoured abolition, including 71 per cent in Quebec and 59 per cent in Saskatchewan with the rest of the country hovering around 45 per cent.

Apr 21, 2022

In their first bilateral meeting, Canada's Defence Minister Anita Anand spoke on the phone with Norway's Defence Minister, Bjørn Arild Gram. They discussed the importance of defence relationships and other topics of mutual interest.

Apr 20, 2022

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland joined representatives from several other countries in a walkout from today’s G20 economic summit, say that Russia should not be participating in the event. “This week's meetings in Washington are about supporting the world economy,” said Freeland, participating in her capacity as Finance Minister. “Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine is a grave threat to the global economy.”

Apr 20, 2022

Results of a new national Léger poll indicate that 55 per cent of Canadians, including 68 per cent of Quebeckers, believe the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is over. “There has been a real change in mentality that has occurred around the same time as our governments have removed many of the health measures,” says the pollster’s executive vice-president, adding that “it’s not over.”

Apr 20, 2022

Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 declined by 8.9 per cent to 672 megatonnes from 738Mt in 2019, according to the latest annual federal government report to the UN. The current government goal is to reduce emissions by 40-45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 with a view to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Apr 20, 2022

El Shafee Elsheikh, 33, a British member of a brutal Islamic State cell dubbed “The Beatles”, has been found guilty on four counts each of hostage-taking and conspiracy related to the deaths of three U.S. citizens in Syria. His two-week trial in Virginia, which ended with one day of jury deliberation, means he faces multiple life sentences.

Apr 20, 2022

Stopping short of calling it unconstitutional, a New Brunswick court has ruled that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's 2019 appointment of a unilingual lieutenant-governor violated Charter's protections of the province’s official bilingual status. However, Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Tracey DeWare says declaring the position vacant would create chaos because the current vice-regal has signed off on cabinet decisions and government appointments.

Apr 20, 2022

Even though a Florida judge ruled that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not justified mandatory coronavirus masking on all forms of mass transportation, Canada has no immediate plans to drop its requirement for air and train passengers. “Masks are proven to provide additional layers of protection and we will continue to follow the advice of our public health experts,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said April 19.

Apr 19, 2022

Pat King, a key figure in the “freedom convoy” which paralyzed downtown Ottawa for weeks earlier this year, now faces three additional charges each of perjury and obstruction of justice related to his testimony during a bail hearing last week. Details of the testimony are protected by a publication ban but King originally faced charges of mischief, counselling to commit mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobeying a court order, and counselling to obstruct police.

Apr 19, 2022

Hackers associated with the North Korean government have been identified by the U.S. as responsible for the theft of $620 million in Ethereum cryptocurrency from a Vietnam-based video gaming studio in March. “We were able to confirm Lazarus Group and APT38, cyber actors associated with the DPRK, are responsible,” the FBI says. The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned the cryptocurrency address used by the hackers.

Apr 19, 2022

Conservative Party of Canada leadership campaigns have been ordered by party headquarters to ban the use of prepaid credit cards to buy memberships or make donations as they prepare to elect a successor to Erin O’Toole in September. There had been complaints that the practice left the voting process vulnerable to fraud.

Apr 19, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron’s far-right challenger, Marine Le Pen, says she rejects NATO’s “herd-like conformity” with the U.S. and would quit the alliance’s integrated military command and focus on “a strategic rapprochement” with Russia. She also has dismissed multilateralism in general as she and Macron prepare for an April 24 run-off election after first-round voting April 10 left them with only a few percentage points difference in support.

Apr 19, 2022

Russia’s foreign ministry has put 86 Canadian Senators on its “black list” of prohibited foreign visitors. Percy Downe from Prince Edward Island has been banned since 2017 for endorsing U.S. legislation to sanction foreign governments while Ontario’s Tony Dean would be “writing to complain immediately” about not being included in the latest edict.

Apr 19, 2022

The Vancouver-based Veterans Transition Network, having raised $3.6 million and helped to rescue 2,061 Afghanis since the Taliban took control, is refocusing its efforts to help veterans deal with mental-health issues. Among other things, VRN Executive Director Oliver Thorne blames “government policy that is very risk averse to the point of being selfish.”

Apr 19, 2022

The flight crew of a Toronto-based charter operation, Pivot Airlines, have been detained under poor conditions in the Dominican Republic after they reported finding 450 pounds of cocaine in the avionics bay of their Bombardier jet. Rather than thanking them, local authorities arrested them pending an investigation.

Apr 19, 2022

An alarmingly sophisticated and effective system for attacking industrial facilities, including the energy sector, has been disclosed by U.S. officials. While they have not said which country was the source, private analysts say it is likely Russian in origin and that the priority targets are likely liquefied natural gas plants.

Apr 13, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a short-term spike in prices, prompting governments to rethink their energy plans, which could have profound impacts on issues ranging from a burgeoning food crisis to global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Potential solutions all come with potential repercussions that could play out over the coming years or even decades.

Apr 13, 2022

The Muslim Association of Canada is asking the Ontario Superior Court to block a Canada Revenue Agency audit of its activities as a registered charity, saying the review, which began in 2015, is discriminatory and violates its Charter rights. It says the audit has been “tainted throughout by systemic bias and Islamophobia” and that the CRA has threatened “extreme sanctions that are completely unjustified by the findings.”

Apr 13, 2022

A former U.S. researcher at the Ethereum Foundation, a non-profit organisation focused on the technology behind cryptocurrencies, has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for conspiring to help North Korea to evade sanctions by using cryptocurrency. Virgil Griffith, who pled guilty to violating the U.S. International Emergency Economic Powers Act, also was fined $100,000.

Apr 13, 2022

The Bank of Canada today raised its key interest rate to one per cent from 0.5 per cent, the largest increase in more than 20 years in a bid to contain inflation. Governor Tiff Macklem said rates are expected to remain elevated for longer than previously expected due to the impact on energy and other commodity prices resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He also said he expects rate to continue to rise to “more normal” levels which neither stimulate nor hinder the economy.

Apr 13, 2022

A U.S. advisory to its non-emergency consular staff and their families that they should leave Shanghai, much of which remains in a coronavirus lockdown, has prompted a strong reaction in Beijing. “We express strong dissatisfaction with the politicization and weaponization of evacuations,” Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said April 12, accusing the U.S. of “smearing” China.

Apr 13, 2022

U.S. President Joe Biden used the word “genocide” April 12 to describe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “It has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian and the evidence is mounting,” he said. “We’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me.”

Apr 13, 2022

China’s international petroleum giant CNOOC, having entered the Canadian energy sector less than a decade through a takeover of Nexen, is reported to be planning to withdraw not only from Canada but also Britain and the U.S. There evidently are concerns in Beijing that the company’s assets could be targeted by Western sanctions because of China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Apr 13, 2022

Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre is raising concerns over potential “fraud” in the Conservative Party leadership race, demanding a ban on prepaid credit cards to purchase party members and potentially stack voting results. His campaign says that if the party refuses to outlaw the practice, a legal challenge is likely.

Apr 13, 2022

Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. intelligence analyst, is prohibited from entering Canada due to her 2013 conviction for leaking classified information. Ruling on her case last week, an Immigration and Refugee Board agreed with the federal government that Manning, who U.S. sentence has been commuted, should be denied entry. Her lawyers say they will seek a judicial review of the ruling.

Apr 12, 2022

China began letting about a quarter of the residents of its largest city out of their homes today after locking down the city of 25 million for two weeks in response to a coronavirus resurgence. Some food markets and pharmacies also are being permitted to reopen but a National Health Commission official said the virus still is not under control.

Apr 12, 2022

The 2022 federal budget includes plans to expand the use of electric vehicles across the country, including extensive support for charging infrastructure but there are concerns about the fundamental supply of power. “We’re going to need more electricity and I know there are a lot of brilliant innovators ... across the country who are leaning in on that,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said April 11. “Absolutely,” he replied when asked whether power from nuclear reactors is an option.

Apr 12, 2022

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier says the federal government could convert some of its downtown Ottawa office space into housing as thousands of public servants continue to work from home. “Hybrid work is here to stay,” she says. “We have to look at how we’re going to strengthen our downtown core and making sure that we don’t keep these offices empty.” Local business and politicians have been pressing the government to send more employees back downtown.

Apr 12, 2022

A coalition of 28 human-rights groups is asking the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise to investigate allegations that some products sold by 14 Canadian companies are made in whole or in part with forced labour in China. Almost all the companies are subsidiaries international corporations.

Apr 12, 2022

Candidates to succeed Erin O’Toole as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada are expected to face off in two debates next month. The first English debate organized by the party is set for May 11, followed two weeks later by a French debate.

Apr 11, 2022

As historically-neutral Sweden and Finland consider bids for NATO membership, the Kremlin’s spokesman warned against it, saying that that “the alliance remains a tool geared towards confrontation.” Dmitry Peskov was responding to reports that U.S. State Department officials met last week with the Finnish and Swedish foreign ministers whose governments are concerned about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and potentially other neighbours..

Apr 11, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron, a political centrist facing a challenge from far-right opponent Marine Le Pen, says “nothing is done” as they prepare for a run-off vote April 24. After an initial ballot April 10, Macron says voters are faced with “a fundamental choice between two opposing visions of the future.”

Apr 07, 2022

The prospect that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be prolonged, NATO is divided on how to manage the next stage of the conflict and the ensuing uncertainty. Some countries such as Poland and the Baltic states, concerned that anything that Moscow can present as a victory will damage to European security, want a total break but others such as France, Germany and Turkey evidently want to maintain links with President Vladimir Putin despite alleged war crimes.

Apr 07, 2022

A Turkish court has suspended the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi Arbanians accused of killing U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 and the Turkish government today approved a prosecution request for a transfer of proceedings to Saudi Arabia. Human rights groups say the move would lead to a cover-up of the killing, which U.S. intelligence linked to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Apr 07, 2022

A Newfoundland offshore oil project with the potential to produce at least 300 million barrels of crude over its operating life, starting later this decade, has been approved by Environment & Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbault. The former activist said April 6 that while “it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make”, the Bay Nord venture is subject to strict conditions and a net-zero emissions target by 2050.

Apr 06, 2022

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said April 5 that while the alliance would welcome traditionally neutral Finland and Sweden as members. “It's for them to decide, of course, but if they apply, I expect that 30 allies will welcome them.” he said.

Apr 06, 2022

Several provinces are rebuilding their coronavirus defences amidst growing indications of another wave. Quebec and Prince Edward Island extended their mask mandates and Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia are expanding access to fourth vaccinations.

Apr 06, 2022

Draft legislation introduced by the federal government April 5 as Bill C-18 would require digital publishers to compensate traditional news publishers for the use of their content. They also would have the option to submit to binding arbitration under the auspices of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Apr 06, 2022

China’s efforts to contain a new coronavirus outbreak in its largest city, which also is its financial hub, means that Shanghai’s 26 million residents are confined to their homes except for testing, completely dependent on the city administration for food and other basis needs.

Apr 06, 2022

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Russian forces are regrouping for a southeastern offensive designed to connect the occupied Crimean Peninsula with separatist-controlled territory in the eastern Donbas region. “This is a crucial phase of the war,” he said on the eve of today’s NATO foreign affairs ministers, urging the allies to have weapons and other materiel ready for Ukraine.

Apr 05, 2022

A lawyer for a group of Albertans seeking to have pandemic-related restrictions ruled unconstitutional has asked the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, why she didn’t recommend weight loss to prevent serious illness in coronavirus cases. Representing two churches and a gym owner, Leighton Grey said those at lower risk of serious illness should not be “punished” by restrictions designed for more vulnerable populations.

Apr 05, 2022

Claims that a protestor in the “freedom convoy” in Ottawa had been seriously injured in a confrontation with police has been dismissed by Ontario's Special Investigations Unit. It said April that the woman had sustained a “strained shoulder” when knocked to the ground, an incident which sparked rumours that she had been fatally trampled by a police horse.

Apr 05, 2022

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said April 4 that there must be “rapid, deep and immediate” cuts in carbon dioxide emissions go stave off the worst impacts of global warming. However, it added, even if all current governments’ policies had been implemented already, global average temperatures will still rise by 3.2 degrees this century. “Some government and business leaders are saying one thing but doing another,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres commented. “They are lying, and the results will be catastrophic.”

Apr 05, 2022

New Hampshire’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu, used an expletive, ostensibly as a joke, to describe former president Donald Trump’s state of mind. “I’ll say it this way: I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution. But I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out!” However, one analyst suggests that there’s “a kernel of truth” in Sununu’s comment because other Republicans question Trump’s motives as he continues to dominate their party.

Apr 05, 2022

Exports of Prince Edward Island table-stock potatoes to the U.S. have resumed more than four months after they were prohibited by the Canadian government in anticipation of U.S. regulatory action.

Apr 04, 2022

Iran says the U.S. is responsible for a pause in multinational talks in Vienna aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, “A deal is very much within reach,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said today, adding that “Washington should make political decision for the deal's revival.” The State Department said last week that a small number of issues remained to be address and that it was up Iran to decide.

Apr 04, 2022

Russian efforts to build support for its invasion of Ukraine by claiming that that Ukraine has been harvesting organs from fallen soldiers as well as women and children have resulted in a rare public warning by Canada’s Security Establishment. The CSE says there has been a coordinated effort by Moscow to create and spread the false reports and that there had been “amplified fake stories and narratives falsely claiming that only military targets were being attacked, and that civilian causalities in Ukraine were lower than what confirmed.”

Apr 04, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the G20 group of nations must re-evaluate the participation of Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine. “When it comes to Vladimir Putin sitting around that table with the rest of us, that's going to be extraordinarily difficult for us and unproductive,” he says. “It can't be business as usual . . . pretending that everything is okay.”

Apr 04, 2022

An announcement by the Solomon Islands government that it intends to “broaden its security and development cooperation with more countries”, notably China, has raised hackles in the region. A key concern is a draft agreement whereby the Solomons could ask Beijing to send military or law enforcement personnel with neither country, without consent, sharing details with other states.

Apr 04, 2022

A call by premiers of the Prairie provinces to suspend the latest scheduled increase in the federal carbon levy has been rebuffed by Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. The increase took effect last week atop surging retail fuel prices and while the premiers argued for relief, Wilkinson says “94 per cent of the price of gas has nothing to do with the price on pollution” and is due largely to global price increases resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Apr 04, 2022

A University of Toronto infectious diseases epidemiologist says that by relaxing coronavirus restrictions, governments have “opened the door to a new variant” and that “there’s no doubt that a new is being driven by the highly transmissible BA.2 subvariant. He says politicians have lifted restrictions at “a really inappropriate time” and with a “healthy dose of denial” of the risk to public health.

Apr 01, 2022

As of today, all travellers entering Canada are no longer be required to provide a pre-entry coronavirus test as long as they are “fully vaccinated. That means two doses of an accepted vaccine or at least one of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival. All arriving travellers must complete a questionnaire on the ArriveCAN app or on the government's website within 72 hours of their arrival, but anyone exhibiting symptoms will not be permitted entry.

Apr 01, 2022

In a move survivors and their families have been awaiting for decades, Pope Francis apologized today to Canada’s indigenous communities for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential schools tragedy. “I am very sorry, and I joined my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon,” the Pontiff told a gathering at the Vatican. “I’m also feeling shame . . . for the role that the number of Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have had and all these things that wounded you, the abuse you suffered, and in the lack of respect shown for your identity and culture.”

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