In the News

Sep 21, 2020

The constitutionality of the federal government’s levy on carbon emissions is before the Supreme Court of Canada for two days this week as the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario mount further appeals. Having lost lower-court challenges, the provinces insist that the levy encroaches on their jurisdiction.

Sep 21, 2020

Premier John Horgan has called a provincial election a year earlier than scheduled, seeking a majority for his New Democratic Party minority government a year earlier than scheduled. Citing significant economic and health challenges, he said “stability will come by asking the people of British Columbia where they want to go and who they want to lead.,” he said. Voting will take place 24 October.

Sep 21, 2020

A Bulgarian court has sentenced two Lebanese expatriates to life imprisonment for their role in a fatal 2012 bus bomb attack on Israeli tourists at the country's Burgas airport. The blast killed five Israelis, their local bus driver and the bomber as well as injuring 35 other persons. The accused, identified as Lebanese-Canadian Hassan El Hajj Hassan and Lebanese-Australian Meliad Farah, remain at large.

Sep 21, 2020

Career public servant Iain Stewart has been named President of the Public Health Agency of Canada only two years into his appointment as President of the National Research Council. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision was precipitated by the sudden resignation of PHAC President Trina Namiesniowksi, who said the country needed “someone who will have the energy and the stamina to take the agency and our response to the next level” in tackling COVID-19.

Sep 21, 2020

The U.S. has imposed new sanctions on 27 individuals in Iran’s defense ministry and elsewhere in its nuclear program, a move rejected by key European allies as well as Russia and China. It also imposed new sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, accusing him of having conspired with Iran “to flout the UN arms embargo.”

Sep 21, 2020

A suburban Montreal condominium is being searched by RCMP for potential connections with envelopes containing ricin which were sent to the White House and several Texas locations. A spokesman says the home is connected to a woman arrested at the border after one of the envelopes was intercepted last week before it reached the presidential residence in Washington.

Sep 21, 2020

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has given all federal departments and agencies until the end of today to deal with a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows which was disclosed more than a month ago. The agency warns that failure to apply an update released by Microsoft could have dire consequences.

Sep 21, 2020

David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2016 to 2019, has been cited by the federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner for improper lobbying less than a year after he left office. Nine ministers, aides and senior public servants were involved in the meetings requested by MacNaughton on behalf of Palantir Technologies Canada, a subsidiary of a privately-held U.S. software company.

Sep 21, 2020

Military spouses and common-law partners are the focus of a Department of National Defence initiative designed to open up opportunities for employment in the federal public service overall. The new initiative builds on an existing platform designed to identify openings within DND.

Sep 21, 2020

A U.S. billionaire was cleared by the Canada Border Services Agency to enter Canada without following the federal government’s 14-day quarantine requirement. “No special entry exemptions were provided,” said Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, referring to the fact that several cabinet ministers can approve exemptions under special circumstances. “Entry should not have been permitted,” the government is “working with the CBSA to ensure that similar cases do not occur.”

Sep 21, 2020

There now are more than 30 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including more than 940,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. The U.S., India and Brazil have the most cases, in that order.

Sep 18, 2020

On Tuesday, New Westminster police arrested a man suspected of setting fire to the city's historic pier. The historic site succumbed to flames late Sunday night, destroying one of the oldest parts of the long-standing pier, which had been incorporated into a new park that opened in 2012. The fire is now contained, but continues to smoulder underneath the deck surface.

Sep 17, 2020

The recent New Brunswick general election, which saw the Progressive Conservatives returned to power with a legislative majority, apparently can be taken as a small example of how voting can be managed as COVID-19 continues to be a national challenge. The province’s chief electoral officer reports that more than 133,000 voters chose advance polls, some 66 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots and results were clear that evening.

Sep 17, 2020

The Boeing 737 MAX crashes which killed 346 passengers and crew, in October 2018 and March 2019 and grounded the global fleet, are described in a U.S. House of Representatives committee report as the “horrific culmination” of engineering flaws, mismanagement and a lack of oversight. “It could have been prevented,” says the committee chairman. “We’re going to take steps in our legislation to see that it never happens again.”

Sep 17, 2020

Newly-published results of a national public opinion poll indicate that 90 per cent of Canadians want to keep the U.S. border closed due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19. The numbers have been published as the federal government considers a further extension on its ban on non-essential visitors from the U.S.

Sep 17, 2020

Iran has rejected two proposed Canadian class-action lawsuits over its missile shoot-down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 shortly after takeoff from Tehran last January. “The Canadian court has no jurisdiction,” a foreign ministry spokesman says. However, a Toronto lawyer involved in one action says the case is within Canadian jurisdiction through the 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.

Sep 17, 2020

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados plans to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state, which would set up her country to become a republic in November 2021, the 55th anniversary of its independence from Britain. “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” she says. “This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of.”

Sep 17, 2020
Michael Caputo, a politically-appointed spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is on a leave of absence after a conspiracy theory rant on Facebook amid the ongoing COVID-19 dispute between the White House and the scientific community. Among other things, he accused government scientists of “sedition” and trying to undermine the White House.
Sep 17, 2020

With 5G becoming the next generation of mobile telecommunications, China’s involvement in the technology remains a widespread concern because of national security questions. Most of the concern is in the U.S. but it also has become a political conundrum for Canada and other allies. The Australian Strategic Policy Initiative has taken a close look at the issue.

Sep 15, 2020

Less than three hours before Canada was set to announce an estimated $3.6 billion in countervailing tariffs, the U.S. agreed 15 September to scrap President Donald Trump’s 10 percent import tariffs on Canadian aluminum. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the reversal is a sign of common sense in Washington, but the U.S. administration promises monthly reassessments.

Sep 15, 2020

Former U.S. Army LCol Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, is scathingly critical of the Administration in his first published interview since he left the service. Among other things, he describes Trump as a “useful idiot” or a dupe of authoritarian regimes, and “fellow traveller” with Vladimir Putin in that he shares the Russian leader’s loathing for democratic norms.

Sep 15, 2020

U.S. intelligence source say that Iran, seeking retaliation for the drone killing of MGen Qassem Soleimani last January, has been considering killing the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, who has been made aware of the threat.

Sep 14, 2020

U.S. administration official Michael Caputo used a Facebook event on the weekend to call government scientists’ handling of the COVID-19 situation seditious. The assistant secretary of health for public affairs also suggested that he personally would be a target for extremists who plan armed insurrection after the November presidential election.

Sep 14, 2020

With little more than a week left before the second session of the 43rd Parliament begins 23 September, the federal cabinet is meeting for two days to address the ongoing challenge of COVID-19 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to “a detailed vision for the future and a plan to keep Canadians safe while we rebuild a stronger Canada that works for everyone.”

Sep 14, 2020

Hoping to compete more effectively with China and Russia in artificial intelligence development, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said his department will launch a new partnership with more than 10 countries, possibly this week. The goal is to “create new frameworks and tools for data sharing, cooperative development, and strengthened interoperability” among allies.

Sep 14, 2020

French and Swedish laboratories have confirmed German conclusions that Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a binary chemical weapon initially developed by a Soviet research agency in the 1970s. Navalny, the most visible opponent of President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany last month after falling ill on a domestic flight. The Kremlin continues to deny responsibility.

Sep 14, 2020

Faced with a resurgence of COVID-19, with thousands of new infections confirmed daily, Israel is gearing up for a lengthy national lockdown, beginning 18 September. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the measures would “exact a heavy price on us all” but suggested the latest numbers left him with no option despite criticism from political interests which support his coalition government.

Sep 14, 2020

A group of mayors from Canadian cities and towns close to the U.S. border has called on the federal government to keep the border closed after the current lockdown ends 21 September even though local businesses and the tourism sector feel the pinch.

Sep 14, 2020

When Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency in 2016, significant numbers of Americans indicted that they’d prefer to emigrate north. Preliminary numbers from Citizenship and Immigration Canada indicate that many fulfilled that wish. Following 6,800 in 2015, the total rose to 7,700 in 2016 and then to more than 9,000 in 2018 before settling back by a few hundred.

Sep 14, 2020

Protesting the “injustice and ineffectiveness” of the federal government's prohibition on civil ownership of “assault” rifles, an estimated crowd of 800 marchers descended on Parliament Hill 12 September even though most MPs had gone home to their ridings when the previous was prorogued. The event was coordinated by the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights.

Sep 12, 2020

British trials of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Cambridge-based AstraZeneca and Oxford University are resuming after a reported side effect on a patient resulted in a pause in the testing. The university said it had received permission from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and an independent review committee.

 

Sep 12, 2020

In the run-up to the Liberal Party’s 12-15 November national convention, the concept of a guaranteed basic income for Canadians has emerged as a caucus priority. MPs are calling on the government to endorse the idea in a policy resolution which evidently is at the top of their wish-list for the convention.

Sep 12, 2020

Persons who eschew masks against COVID-19 in Quebec’s public places where social-distancing is not possible now are liable for fines up to $6,000. Effective 12 September, the measure was announced by Premier François Legault in response to regional surges in infections. “There’s a trend we do not like here,” he said two days earlier. “We cannot accept that a few irresponsible individuals put at risk the entire population.”

Sep 12, 2020

A year after Cameron Ortis, director its national intelligence coordination centre was charged with sharing information with a foreign entity, the RCMP evidently has not upgraded its protocols despite an internal review. “If the RCMP is publicly saying that they haven't done anything or haven't implemented any of the changes that maybe need to happen in terms of increasing the security posture, what are they telling allies?” asks Jessica Davis, formerly with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and now head of a private consultancy, “They’re obviously still receiving intelligence from the allies. So is the messaging the same to them? And if so, how are they taking that?”

Sep 12, 2020

The International Air Transport Association expects that it will require the equivalent of up to 8,000 large aircraft to deliver enough single COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world’s population. It warns that “severe capacity constraints” on secure storage, personnel training and border controls could hamper distribution.

Sep 12, 2020

Raj Grewal, a short-term Ontario MP who quit the Liberal caucus in 2018 after a police investigation of his gambling debts, now faces a handful of criminal charges for allegedly failing to report to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner that he had secured large personal loans. The RCMP say the circumstances “constitute a criminal breach of trust” but Grewal’s lawyer says his client “adamantly denies these allegations.”

Sep 12, 2020

An Australian-led multinational team of experts says between 30 and 50 per cent of the world’s fresh water is being stolen, mostly for agricultural purposes. “Water crises constitute a challenge for humanity,” they say in a report, calling on governments to recognize the urgency by overhauling policies and regulations.

Sep 12, 2020

Some 8,800 unaccompanied children have been expelled from the U.S. into Mexico, a pandemic-related measure that effectively ended their political asylum. Confirmation by the U.S. Border Patrol brings the total number of deportations to more than 159,000 since March.

Sep 12, 2020

Canadian officials say they expect Ottawa to retaliate by 16 September to the U.S. administration’s 10 per cent tariff on imports of Canadian aluminum. Ottawa has threatened some $3.6 billion in countermeasures unless Washington backed down on President Donald Trump’s initiative.

Sep 12, 2020

Israel and Bahrain have agreed to normalize relations, a month after Israel struck a peace deal with the United Arab Emirates. The news was tweeted by U.S. President Donald Trump, who is reported to have “brokered” the accord. Bahrain is only the fourth Arab country in the Middle East, the others being Egypt and Jordan, to recognise Israel since its founding in 1948.

Sep 11, 2020

Andrii Derkach, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for being an “active Russian agent” involved in the upcoming U.S. elections. With known ties to former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Derkach had already been singled out by the intelligence community for participating in helping Russian efforts to undermine Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Sep 10, 2020

Microsoft Corp. says a Russian military intelligence unit which attacked the U.S. Democratic National Committee four years ago is back, this time with stealthier hacks aimed at campaign staff, consultants and think-tanks associated with Republicans as well as Democrats. The dislosure comes a day after White House and Homeland Security officials were accused of suppressing intelligence because it “made the president look bad.”

Sep 10, 2020

Global trials of a leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate are on hold after a “suspected adverse event” in a British test subject. University of Oxford researchers, in collaboration with Cambridge-based AstraZeneca, are developing one of nine coronavirus vaccines in final Phase 3 testing. The decision comes amid concerns that U.S. drug agencies might face political pressure to approve a vaccine before November’s presidential election.

Sep 10, 2020

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell have reaffirmed their transatlantic commitment to tackle COVID-19 as well and other challenges. In a statement issued 10 September, they said that, among other things, they fully support the World Health Organization’s pandemic work, continue to cooperate in identifying and responding to foreign threats such as state-sponsored disinformation, and remain committed to the Paris Agreement climate goals.

Sep 10, 2020

In stark contrast to his early statements that the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. was limited and would eventually dissipate, President Donald Trump said in one of a series of interviews only now being reported that although he was aware of the seriousness of the threat, he played it down because he didn’t want to “create a panic.”

Sep 10, 2020

Russian and Chinese business deals in Latin America and the Caribbean threaten to destabilize the Western Hemisphere, says U.S. Air Force LGen Michael Plehn, deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command, likening them to activities by “transnational criminal organizations."

Sep 09, 2020

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has ordered an independent review of the Global Public Health Network that informs Canada’s response to disease outbreaks. She says that while the network has been a key element of senior officials’ decision-making during the COVID-19 crisis, some Public Health Agency of Canada sccientists felt they were not fully “empowered” to do their jobs.

Sep 09, 2020

Anecdotal rumblings within government about the impact of COVID-19 on spending priorities are raising questions about whether the ballooning debt from various economic support programs will affect departments and agencies. One approach, to "anchor" budgets at a fixed percentage of gross domestic product, is being advanced by Robert Asselin, a advisor to former Finance Minister Bill Morneau and now Senior Vice-President, Policy at the Business Council of Canada.

Sep 08, 2020

An online petition calling on the federal government to scrap its firearms restrictions program has garnered more than 230,000 signatures, says its sponsor, Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner. The ban on 1,550 models of "assault-style" weapons, including a two-year amnesty and buy-back program, was announced by the Prime Minister in May. The petition calls it a “firearms confiscation regime” which Rempel contends will “do little to reduce the issue of violent crime.” in Canada. 

Sep 08, 2020

Cheng Lei, an Australian citizen who had worked as a TV network presenter in China, has been detained since mid-August on suspicion of “criminal activity endangering China's national security.” Beijing’s vague explanation came after the last two Australian journalists working in China had flown home after a diplomatic standoff. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China says 17 foreign journalists were expelled in the first half of 2020.

Sep 08, 2020

A U.S. boatowner has been fined $2,000 and his vessel was escorted out of Canadian waters after he failed to report the vessel’s arrival off the west coast of Vancouver Island to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). “Due to COVID-19, travel restrictions remain in place,” the CBSA said, declining to say whether the boat had actually docked in Canada.

Sep 08, 2020

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says the G7 countries are taking Russian denials about the poisoning of Alexei Navalny “with a grain of salt.” The opposition politician is said by Germany to have been poisoned with a Soviet-era neurotoxin but the Kremlin is denying any involvement. Canada is working on a coordinated G-7 response but Champagne has not said what it might be.

Sep 08, 2020

Julian Assange, who has spent almost a year and a half in a British prison as the U.S. presses for the extradiction of the Wikileaks founder to face 18 espionage-related charges, has formally refused the U.S. demand. The Australian citizen, who appearing in a London court 4 September, has been indicted by U.S. prosecutors for publishing military documents a decade ago.

Sep 08, 2020

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission estimates it would cost smaller telecommunications providers $1.6 billion to replace Chinese equipment in their systems and has called for government compensation. Having listed the Chinese technologies as national security threats, the FCC warned last year that service providers which continued to use them would not be eligible for government funding to expand their customer base.

Sep 04, 2020

Microsoft has again been awarded the U.S. Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud computing contract – but the journey may not be over yet. The latest decision by the Department of Defense follows a 10-month legal battle challenge by Amazon after Microsoft was awarded the original contract. Amazon could continue an outstanding protest before the Court of Federal Claims.

Sep 04, 2020

Two days after a cattle transport capsized and sank in the Coral Sea during a typhoon 2 Sept., some 40 crewmembers were still missing. Two survivors from the 18-year-old Panama-registered Gulf Livestock have been found by Japan's coast guard.

Sep 03, 2020

Walter Reid National Military Medical Center in Maryland is one of several U.S. sites chosen by the Department of Defense for Phase 3 clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine contender. The others are in Virginia, Texas and California. The British-based multinational, AstraZeneca, which developed the vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University researchers and is already undertaking late-stage trials in Brazil, Britain and South Africa, hopes to recruit 30,000 volunteers for the U.S. test.

Sep 03, 2020

As the U.S. Navy shifted increasingly to remote work for many personnel early in the COVID-19 pandemic, its chief information says there was a jump in malicious cyber activity. Aaron Weis says it began with basic phishing activity but ramped up to spoofing and outright attacks from ostensibly “trustworthy” sources even after the U.S. deployed countermeasures.

Sep 03, 2020

Oracle Corp. has lost its latest legal challenge of how the U.S. Department of Defense awarded a multi-billion-dollar cloud-computing contract for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. The contract originally was awarded to Microsoft after a competition with Amazon Web Services, but Oracle contended that the contract requirements had been tailored to the other companies’ advantage.

Sep 02, 2020

Senior officers of the International Criminal Court, including its chief prosecutor, are being sanction by the U.S. for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says are “illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.” Created by the UN in 2002 and never recognized by the U.S., which calls it a “corrupted institution,” the ICC is currently investigating whether U.S. forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

Sep 02, 2020

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says there is “unequivocal proof” that Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent and that Russia must explain. Navalny, who remains in a medically-induced coma, was flown to Berlin for tests after becoming ill last month.

Sep 02, 2020

Career diplomat Christian Burgsmüller has begun a four-year assignment as Deputy Head of Mission in the EU Delegation’s Ottawa office. Previous postings have been at EU headquarters in Brussels as well as with delegations in Washington and Brasilia. He also had been involved in trade negotiations with Canada, U.S., Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Sep 02, 2020

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says that while Customs and Border Protection deployed facial recognition technology at 27 airports last May, it has audited only one to ensure compliance with privacy policies.p>

Sep 02, 2020

The U.S. administration has confirmed that it will not participate in an international effort to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine because the initiative is tied to the “corrupt World Health Organization” and influenced by China. However, a White House spokesman says the U.S. would “continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus” which now has killed more than 180,000 Americans and some 2.2 million worldwide.

Sep 02, 2020

An Australian citizen who has been a China Global Television Network presenter for years has suddenly disappeared from its programs and has been wiped from its website amid growing tensions between Beijing and Canberra. The Australian government has confirmed that Cheng Lei, who had immigrated with her family as a child, has been detained under “residential surveillance” at an unknown location.

Sep 02, 2020

British Columbia has renewed its COVID-19 state of emergency for the 13th time since it was invoked 18 March. Subject to fortnightly renewal, it enables the government to use “extraordinary powers” during the pandemic.

Sep 02, 2020

Political tensions between Canada and China are being cited for delays in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Tianjin-based CanSino Biologics, which is partnered with the National Research Council in Ottawa, evidently has not progressed beyond its initial human trials in March. Shipments of final trial samples were expected to have been shipped to Canada by now but the NRC says Chinese customs has not approved the exports even though it is said to have been received by other countries.

Sep 02, 2020

This month’s UN General Assembly, scheduled to begin 15 September, will include a Security Council discussion of potential security threats in a post-pandemic world. The council’s current president, Nigerian Ambassador Abdou Abarry says the online discussion is planned for 24 September.

Sep 02, 2020

New Zealand Justice Minister Andrew Little says his country is dealing with an unprecedented flow of cyberattacks against many sectors of its administration and economy. Among other things, the attacks halted stock market trading for several hours at a time over four days recently.

Sep 01, 2020

Highly-organized anti-vaccine groups with broad reach and influence in many countries present a serious challenge for governments and international bodies in the campaign against COVID-19, according to the World Economic Forum. It reports, for example, that some 25 per cent of U.S. residents are hesitant about getting vaccinated and nearly 20 per cent say they would decline the option.

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