In the News

Mar 31, 2022

Under pressure to curb soaring energy prices, the U.S. announced today that it would release up to 180 million barrels of oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, at a rate of one million barrels daily, to counteract the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on global prices. It will be the largest release since the SPR was created in the early 1970s as an emergency stockpile.

Mar 31, 2022

As the level of coronavirus viruses in waste water continue to rise, public health experts across Canada worry about the prospect of a new surge of infections. It presents a political conundrum to governments across the country, particularly in Ontario, over concerns about voter backlash if new restrictive measures are imposed in the runup to a general election in two months

Mar 31, 2022

Tedros Adhanom Ghebrey, head of the World Health Organization, said March 30 that “the most likely scenario” for the global coronavirus pandemic is that while the virus will continue to evolve, its severity reduces over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection.” However, he also cautioned that periodic spikes in cases and deaths may occur as immunity wanes in vulnerable populations.

Mar 31, 2022

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has confirmed that seven more RCMP officers will join three others “as quickly as possible” to help with an International Criminal Court investigation of possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine. “This will be a team of dedicated experts who understand how to collect evidence which could be marshaled into a future prosecution,” he said March 29.

Mar 31, 2022

Dublin-based AerCap, the world's top aircraft lessor, has submitted a $3.5 billion insurance claim for more than 100 jets stuck in Russia afger European Union sanctions forced the termination of Russian leases. Other lessors’ claims have brought the total insurance exposure to $10 billion and AerCap expects insurers to contest the claims in years of litigation.

Mar 31, 2022

The trial of Cheng Lei, an Australian who reported on business news for China’s state broadcaster and is accused by of sharing states secrets, began behind closed doors today in Beijing and not even her country’s ambassador is being permitted to attend. “We can have no confidence in the validity of a process which is conducted in secret,” Graham Fletcher said, adding that he had no information about the charges which could result in up to 10 years in prison. Cheng has been in custody since August 2020.

Mar 31, 2022

Beverley McLachlin, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, plans to remain a judge on Hong Kong’s highest court despite the resignation of two British judges who cited the deterioration of freedoms since Beijing imposed a national-security law on the city. “The court is operating as an independent, judicial branch of government – perhaps the last surviving strong institution of democracy,” she says. “It’s there for people to give them fair hearings and independent justice.”

Mar 31, 2022

In an attempt to prevent the collapse of East Coast herring and mackerel stocks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic, Fisheries & Oceans Minister Joyce Murray has announced a ban on commercial fisheries. The decision, which does not apply to indigenous fishers, was immediately denounced by commercial fishing companies’ unions.

Mar 30, 2022

Forty-three Russian diplomats suspected of espionage, nearly half in Belgium alone, are being expelled in a coordinated move which also involves the Czech Republic, Ireland and the Netherlands. The announcement today follows similar actions by other EU members.

Mar 30, 2022

Amid growing concerns about a possible suspension of Russian natural gas deliveries, Germany began gearing up today for possible rationing due to a dispute over Moscow’s insistence that it be paid in rubles. It activated an “early warning” phase” of emergency legislation, setting up a “crisis room” in the energy ministry.

Mar 30, 2022

It has become standard for Canadian governments to publish their leaders’ mandate letters to cabinet members, but not so in Ontario. Premier Doug is embroiled in a years-long legal battle to keep his ministerial advice secret and despite several unsuccessful challenges in lower courts, he now wants the Supreme Court of Canada to hear what would be his final chance to appeal.

Mar 30, 2022

The head of the Business Council of Canada says that pitching Canada as a “solutions provider” to the U.S. will lead to a North American economy better equipped to respond to current and future global unrest. Summarizing a delegation’s visit to Washington last week in which the group recommended more imports of Canadian petroleum, BCC President Goldy Hyder said, “let's figure out solutions together and in the interests of people, not just in North America but around the world and particularly in Ukraine.”

Mar 29, 2022

Environment & Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault today released a federal government' plan to dramatically curb greenhouse gas emissions over the next eight years. It relies heavily on large reductions by the petroleum, transportation and power-generation sectors as the government hopes for at least a 40 per cent reduction in GHGs from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan also includes some $9.1 billion in new investments to incent zero-emission vehicles and tax relief to encourage carbon capture, utilization and storage technology.

Mar 29, 2022

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed today that she will table the 2022 federal budget on April 7. It’s expected to be a “back to basics” fiscal agenda after two years of extraordinary costs associated with softening the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic but there is some optimism about increased defence spending.

Mar 29, 2022

The Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick governments have confirmed plans to develop small nuclear reactors, modular designs they say will provide safe clean power to local users while helping to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The first would be built in Ontario with four to follow in Saskatchewan between 2034 and 2042.

Mar 29, 2022

Strict adherence by government employees to a code for personal clothing and grooming, at the risk of being fired for non-compliance, is the Taliban’s latest push to impose their will on Afghanis. It follows a decision to segregated use of public parks by sex.

Mar 29, 2022

An Ottawa Conservative MP seen as a leading contender for his party’s leadership, Pierre Poilievre, said March 28 that he wants to normalize cryptocurrencies in order to “decentralize” the economy and reduce the influence of the Bank of Canada, which he said is fanning inflation. “Canada needs less financial control for politicians and bankers and more financial freedom for the people,” he said. “That includes freedom to own and use crypto, tokens, smart contracts and decentralized finance.”

Mar 29, 2022

U.S. coronavirus relief programs are said to have resulted in what is being called as the largest fraud in the country’s history, siphoning off an estimated 10 per cent of the $800-billion program. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz says the Small Business Administration basically advised potential claimants to “apply and sign and tell us that you're really entitled” to relief payments. “What didn't happen was even minimal checks to make sure that the money was getting to the right people at the right time.”

Mar 29, 2022

Randy Hillier, a former Progressive Conservative member of the Ontario legislature who now sits as an Independent but is not seeking reelection, was released on bail March 28 after the Ottawa Police Service charged him with an array of charge arising from his participation in the “freedom convoy” that paralyzed the capital’s core for most of last month. Among other things, he is charged with assaulting and obstructing police.

Mar 29, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putdin’s insistence that “unfriendly countries’ must pay for natural gas in rubles is unacceptable to the G7 countries, says Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck, calling on “the companies concerned not to comply.” Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S. are the other G7 members.

Mar 29, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is presenting a challenge for the former Soviet republic of Khazakstan, says its deputy minister, Roman Vassilenko. He was quoted by a German newspaper March 28 as saying his country, a centre for Russia’s space program, does not want to be on the wrong side of a new “iron curtain” but would welcome foreign companies abandoning Russia.

Mar 29, 2022

U.S. designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “foreign terrorist organization” evidently is at centre stage in ongoing efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear accord, abandoned by the former U.S. administration in 2015. European Union negotiator Enrique Mora met with Iranian officials in Tehran on the weekend and talks focused on whether the U.S. would lift the IRGC’s designation.

Mar 28, 2022

A $5.8-trillion budget plan released today by the White House reflects growing security and economic concerns at home and abroad, including $773 billion in defence spending, nearly 10 per cent more than eventually approved by Congress for 2021. The administration said the hike reflects ongoing overseas threats such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a growing risk of cyberattacks. Dedicated Veterans Affairs medical care funding also is part of the plan as is a four-per-cent increase to $813.3 billion in the national security envelope

Mar 28, 2022

Rogers Communications’ $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications’ broadcast outlets in Western Canada has been approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. However, the deal agreed to by the companies a year ago is still under review by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development as well as the Competition Bureau because of the implications for home telephone, wireless and Internet services.

Mar 28, 2022

A spike in coronavirus cases in Shanghai compelled the Chinese government today to lock down the country’s largest city and financial capital, which has a population of 26 million. Residents are required to stay home and deliveries are being left at checkpoints to ensure there is no outside contact as mass testing began.

Mar 28, 2022

The federal government will transfer $2 billion to provinces and territories in a bid to address the backlog of mostly elective surgeries created by the coronavirus pandemic. ears-long pandemic crisis. Describing the Canada Health Transfer top-up as “a huge relief’ for thousands of families, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos also signalled a willingness to permanently increase transfer payments.

Mar 28, 2022

Quebec's interim public health director, Dr. Luc Boileau, said March 27 that his province seems to be heading toward another coronavirus wave. He said a recent spike in confirmed cases of the Omicron BA.2 variant suggest the wave is imminent but said he would wait a couple more weeks before making a final determination. “We're not in the same situation as we were in December and January, but . . . the increase of the variant is worrisome.”

Mar 28, 2022

Five weeks after police pushed a “Freedom Convoy” protest out of Ottawa, some of its participants returned over the weekend. Hundreds began the convoy in a community on Quebec’s south shore and picked up protester along the way to the capital, where they were escorted through the downtown core before making their way to a town in Eastern Ontario. Police reported no incidents but organizers say they’ll be back.

Mar 28, 2022

A Quebec trial wrapped in secrecy with the approval of the judge, prosecutors and the defence counsel has violated the fundamental principles of justice, according to critics in the legal community. The names of the judge and defendant as well as the location and time of the trial of a police informant were redacted from the “Dossier X” public record and the trial only came to light when the defendant chose to appeal the verdict against him, claiming police had guaranteed him immunity.

Mar 28, 2022

Canadian hacker cautioned about Russia Quebec-based hacker Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins made millions in little more than a year by invading corporate computer networks and holding records hostage until ransoms were paid. Court files show that when police raided his Gatineau home last year, Vachon-Desjardins confessed, but said there were some systems the ransomware creators warned him to avoid, specifically “Russia and its former Soviet republics.”

Mar 28, 2022

The first Canadian coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, approved domestically a month ago, has been rejected by the World Health Organization. Covifenz was developed by Quebec-based Medicago, supported by $173 million in federal funds, but the WHO refused to authorize its use because 21 per cent of the company’s shares are held by the tobacco company Philip Morris.

Mar 25, 2022

Several arguably “fringe” members of the European Parliament used Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Brussels as a platform to criticizes his government’s handling of the “freedom convoy” in Ottawa. His critics included a Croatian MP who said, among other things, that invocation of the Emergencies Act had become “a symbol of civil rights violations” as well as a German MPs called him a “disgrace for any democracy.”

Mar 25, 2022

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told his United Conservative Party caucus earlier this week that he came close to quitting ahead of a review of his leadership. Having thought about it, however, he eventually concluded that it would have divided the UCP and handed the next election over to the New Democratic Party.

Mar 25, 2022

Key organizers of the “freedom convoy” which paralyzed downtown Ottawa for three weeks last month, are facing additional criminal charges. The occupation, which began as a protest against mandatory coronavirus vaccinations, are said to have cost the capital an estimated $36.6 million, most of it for police services.

Mar 24, 2022

Allies meeting in Brussels today pledged new sanctions and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but not the more robust military assistance President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for to blunt Russia’s brutal assault and drive the invaders out. The allies met in emergency summits involving NATO, the European Council and the G-7 economic group and while grateful for their help, Zelenskyy reiterated his impassioned plea for far more than has been promised.

Mar 24, 2022

A federal auction of oil exploration permits off Newfoundland and Labrador has been delayed for at least 90 days at the request of Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. The second such delay this month, announced March 23, it was in response to a request by Environment & Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Mar 24, 2022

Two residents of Nova Scotia, one identified as the leader of an extremist group, have been charged after opponents of mandatory coronavirus masking protested outside the home of the province’s chief medical officer of health earlier this week. The pair were charged March 23 with criminal harassment, mischief, harassing phone calls and intimidation of a health professional.

Mar 24, 2022

Russian President said his country will honour natural gas prices and volumes in current export contracts but that “unfriendly” countries must pay in rubles. Much of Europe depends on Russia gas but the market has been thrown into the spotlight by Russia’s month-old invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s announcement March 23 is designed to shore up his country’s seriously sagging currency on international exchanges.

Mar 24, 2022

Attracted by the prospect of a 2.25 per cent annual return on new federal green bonds for 7.5 years, investors have bought up the $5-billion first issue. Yielding a quarter point higher than regular governments, the issue will be used to address climate change issues. “During the time I was an environmental activist, you had to convince people to pay attention to climate change,” Environment & Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said March 23. “Today's announcement is proof that an economic win is an environmental win.”

Mar 24, 2022

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who died this week at the age of 84, always saw Russian President Vladimir Putin as a grave threat to peace and predicted that his forces would face a strategic disaster and bloody resistance if they were deployed into Ukraine. “Invading Ukraine would ensure Mr. Putin’s infamy by leaving his country diplomatically isolated, economically crippled and strategically vulnerable in the face of a stronger, more united Western alliance,” she wrote on the eve of the invasion four weeks ago even as various western leaders professed uncertainty.

Mar 24, 2022

Quebec Premier François Legault says health care elements of this week’s alliance between the Liberals and the NDP is an intrusion into provincial affairs. “There will be a close confrontation with . . . all the provinces,” Legault predicted March 23. “The federal government has no expertise to direct how much money we should be spending on long-term care, how much we should spend on mental health, how much we should devote toward hiring more nurses.”

Mar 24, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its fifth week, highlights the fragility of the global food supply at a time when sustained investment is needed. Between them, Ukraine and Russia account for nearly a third of global wheat and barley exports as well as some 20 per cent of corn exports and the fate of some six million hectares planted to wheat in Ukraine remains uncertain.

Mar 23, 2022

Forty-five Russians accused by Poland of using their diplomatic status as a cover for intelligence work were ordered out today. Ambassador Sergei Andreev, insisting that his staff were “carrying out normal diplomatic and trade activity,” pointed out that Moscow has the right to reciprocate.

Mar 23, 2022

Requests by Ukraine and Estonia to purchase the Israeli-developed Pegasus spyware reportedly have been rejected by the Israeli defence ministry government in recent years over concerns that it would be used to hack Russian phones and sour Jerusalem’s relations with the Kremlin. The ministry prevented the sale by refusing to give export licences to the developer, NSO Group, which has been implicated in other foreign customers’ misuse of the software.

Mar 23, 2022

Despite earlier assertions to the contrary, Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers won’t let girls continue their education beyond sixth grade. The backtracking confirmed today appeases their ultraconservative and mainly rural base and is expected disrupt efforts to win recognition from potential international donors when Afghanistan is mired in a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Mar 23, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to attend the next G20 summit, currently set for the end of October in Bali, Indonesia. There had been suggestions that Russia should be barred because of its invasion of Ukraine, but China pushed back, saying “expulsion of Russia from this kind of forum will not help (global) economic problems to be resolved.”

Mar 23, 2022

Two new Arctic patrol ships being built for the Canadian Coast Guard by Irving Shipbuilding evidently will cost nearly twice as much as their six Royal Canadian Navy counterparts. Struggling with supply chain issues and inflation, as well as meeting CCG-specific design requirements, Irving has told Parliament that it is “working to quantify those challenges in a revised cost estimate.” The latest estimate is $750 million each compared with about $400 million for the RCN vessels.

Mar 23, 2022

A “supply and confidence” agreement with the New Democratic Party is designed to ensure the Liberals’ hold on governance until 2025 in return for commitments to cooperate on key policy areas. Those include climate change, health care spending, indigenous reconciliation, economic growth and efforts to make life more affordable. However, the deal confirmed March 22 does not give the NDP a seat at the cabinet table.

Mar 22, 2022

Chinese-American dissidents in New York have long suspected that China’s intelligence services had infiltrated their ranks. Federal prosecutors in the Justice Department have announced charges in three cases that they say underscore the severity of the problem.

Mar 22, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, has been sentenced to nine more years in prison after being found guilty in a fraud trial on charges rejected by supporters as fabricated. Jailed when he returned home last year after surviving a poison attack, Navalny is now alleged by the prosecution to have stolen donations from political organizations banned by Putin’s government.

Mar 22, 2022

Annoyed by Japanese sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, Russia withdrew from treaty talks and froze joint economic projects related to the disputed Kuril Islands. The two have not formally ended World War II because of their long standoff over the archipelago which was seized by the Soviet Union at the end of the war.

Mar 22, 2022

Rescue workers at the site of a China Eastern Airlines crash March 21 have no survivors among the 123 passengers and new crewmembers. The Boeing 737-800, in service for six years, crashed in a remote mountainous area and the carrier has grounded the remaining 108 737-800s in its 600-aircraft fleet.

Mar 22, 2022

Canadian Pacific Railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents 3,000 conductors, engineers, and train and yard workers, have agreed to binding arbitration to end a work stoppage and will return today.

Mar 21, 2022

The U.S. said today that violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar by the country’s military amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity. The formal declaration by Secretary of State Antony Blinken comes four years after a UN fact-finding mission concluded the military's campaign included “genocidal acts” but the administration of the day called it “ethnic cleansing”, which has no legal definition under international criminal law.

Mar 21, 2022

A Boeing 737-800 operated by China Eastern Airlines crashed into hilly terrain today in the southern province of Guangzi with 123 passengers and a nine-member crew. Rescuers saw no immediate signs of survivors.

Mar 21, 2022

Mediation talks continued today after Canadian Pacific Railway suspended operations in a dispute with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference over wages, benefits and working conditions. Some 3,000 engineers, conductors and yard workers were affected as each side blamed the other for a move which is expected to disrupt many major supply lines already undermined by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mar 21, 2022

An online warning to the Russian people by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger about how they are being lied to about their government’s invasion of Ukraine captured a global audience in no time, including in Russia. Among other things, it challenges President Vladimir Putin’s claim that he wants to “denazify” Ukraine, whose own leader is Jewish. “You started this war and you can stop it,” he told Putin.

Mar 18, 2022

A draft Russian resolution at the UN, ostensibly seeking support for aiding and protecting Ukrainians, prompted Canada to edit it to add that “like other members of the international community, we are gravely concerned” about the invasion. That prompted a Russian envoy to accuse Canada on social media of “kindergarten-level Russophobic libel.” The resolution eventually was not put to a vote March 18.

Mar 18, 2022

Effective April 1, the federal government will scrap pre-entry coronavirus testing for all returning travellers who are at least double-vaccinated. “We are now entering into a transition phase of this pandemic,” However, travellers will still need to complete a questionnaire about their vaccination status and travel history.

Mar 18, 2022

The Supreme Court of Canada has rejected a government attempt to block a class-action harassment lawsuit against the RCMP. A Federal Court judge certified the suit by officers in 2020 and that was upheld on a previous appeal. The government had insisted that such issues should be handled within the RCMP.

Mar 17, 2022

A decision by the RCMP to terminate contracts with 18 Ukrainians working on a training mission in Kyiv has been reversed only a day after it was disclosed. The original decision to stop their pay March 31 would have left them without income as Russia steps up its assault on the capital.

Mar 17, 2022

The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rate by a quarter point March 16 to a target range of 0.25-0.5 per cent and indicated that more rate increases can be expected on its six scheduled announces this year. The move by the central bank marks the start of a “nimle” campaign to curb accelerating inflation.

Mar 17, 2022

Anming Hu, a Canadian scientist who worked at the University of Tennessee until his career was derailed by unjustified accusations of having ties with China, has been legally vindicated. However, having returned to his laboratory, he has found himself having to rebuild his work due to missing and damaged equipment.

Mar 17, 2022

Diplomats trying to salvage Iran’s moribund 2015 nuclear agreemen t with the West are reported to be near the cusp of a deal that would bring the U.S. back into the accord and Iran back into compliance with limits on its nuclear program. Officials say that after 11 months of intermittent meetings, only a small number of issues remain to be addressed.

Mar 16, 2022

Canada’s annualized inflation rate as measured through the Consumer Price Index, was 5.7 per cent in February, up from 5.1 in January and at its highest since 1991. The broadly-based surge reported March 16 puts more pressure on the Bank of Canada to tame the situation with more interest rate increases.

Mar 16, 2022

The campaign in Canada to do away with the annual shift to Daylight Saving Time just before spring has been given new life by the U.S. Senate, which vote unanimously March 15 pre-spring shift to scrap what has become an annoyance for many. Some Canadian provinces have already prepared the legal ground for a policy shift while others have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

Mar 16, 2022

A former Canadian Space Agency engineer who allegedly used his position to act on behalf of a Chinese company was the subject of a Canadian Security Intelligence Service warning about his “reliability” as early as 2015. Court documents indicate that despite three warnings, Wanping Zheng, who is charged with breach of trust, had his security clearance renewed by the CSA in April 2017.

Mar 16, 2022

One of the protesters arrested after a weeks-long border blockade in southern Alberta faces new charges arising from stemming from an incident in which a police barrier was breached by trucks and tractors. Joanne Person, 62, who already faces weapons and mischief charges, now is charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. Most of the 13 accused who appeared in court March 15 face charges of mischief to property and possession of a weapon but four are charged with conspiracy to murder RCMP officers.

Mar 16, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Defence Minister Anita Anand are among hundreds of Canadians sanctioned by Russia in retaliation for supporting Ukraine. The foreign ministry in Moscow said March 15 that the sanctions mean denial of entry to “top officials, parliamentarians and anti-Russian figures.”

Mar 14, 2022

Britain’s high court has refused to allow Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s latest appeal against extradition to the U.S. but the legal challenge isn’t over. A court official said today that the latest appeal did not raise “an arguable point of law,” which means his case reverts to the district court judge who had assessed the extradition request. Home Secretary is then expected to make a final decision.

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