In the News

Apr 24, 2020

The federal government has committed an additional $1.1 billion to development of a national COVID-19 medical and research strategy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in announcing the funding that increased testing and further understanding of the virus are needed before the economy can be reopened.

Apr 24, 2020

A member of the government’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force says the World Health Organization set back the global response by up to three weeks by placing too much confidence in Chinese data. “I think they were a little too deferential,” Dr. David Naylor, a physician and former University of Toronto president, said in a televised interview. He also didn’t think it was “a massive amount of time lost” and those who hold that view “are simply wrong.”

Apr 24, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense is looking for additional insight into how to keep better track of contractors’ cybersecurity practices through its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification process. It has issued a request for proposals designed to end self-certification, a proposal which would require third-party audits.

Apr 24, 2020

Unmanned aerial vehicles designed by Draganfly Inc. of Saskatoon have been deployed near New York City in a pilot project to detect the spread of COVID-19. Draganfly has been working with the University of Southern Australia to equip its drones with sensors that can measure from nearly 60 metres not only social distancing compliance, but also body temperature, heart and respiratory rates, and whether people are sneezing and coughing in crowds.

Apr 24, 2020

Transport Canada now requires all arriving and departing airline passengers to wear face masks while in transit, including through security screening when social-distancing is impracticable. Also, passengers displaying symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed aboard regardless of whether they have a mask.

Apr 24, 2020

The much-maligned middle seat in airliners with three-seat rows have become even less desirable since the advent of COVID-19. Several carriers have announced plans to not assign them to passengers for the foreseeable future and other options are being considered.

Apr 23, 2020

Rookie Ontario Conservative MP Derek Sloan, who’s also a leadership candidate, took to social media this week to question the loyalty of Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief Medical Officer of Health overseeing Canada’s COVID-19 response. He asked whether the Hong Kong-born epidemiologist -- who grew up in Britain and was educated there and in Canada -- worked for “Canada or China?” Dr. Tam dismissed the comment as “noise” and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was no place for “intolerance and racism” in Canada, but Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer declined comment on leadership candidates.

Apr 23, 2020

As President Donald Trump looked on during a White House briefing 23 April, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he is convinced that COVID-19 will be a presence until at least the fall. Trump has been urging a relaxation of some lockdowns but Cauci reiterated the importance of continued caution and the need for politicians to heed their public health authorities’ advice.

Apr 23, 2020

Premier François Legault has asked the federal government to send 1,000 additional Canadian Armed Forces personnel to help staff long-term care institutions in Quebec which have been hit hard by COVID-19. He says the province has unable to find enough trained workers to meet immediate needs.

Apr 23, 2020

Ontario Premier Doug Ford wants Canadian Armed Forces personnel to help his government stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. He said they would be deployed to five homes where infection rates have been extreme. “When you’re in a fight like this, you leave nothing off the table,” he said.

Apr 23, 2020

A flurry of email and social media messages in mid-March to the effect that the U.S. was about to lock down the entire country is reportedly being blamed on Chinese operatives.

Apr 23, 2020

Having tweeted 20 April that he would sign an executive order to “temporarily suspend” immigration as an anti-COVID-19 measure and to protect Americans’ jobs, President Donald Trump eventually opted three days later only to suspend some green cards for 60 days. Exceptions include migrant farm workers, citizens' spouses and unmarried children younger than 21, and green card applications already in the U.S.

Apr 22, 2020

A Canada-U.S. agreement to extend restrictions on cross-border travel has prompted Air Canada to suspend all commercial service to the U.S., effective 26 April and until at least 22 May. WestJet also has extended its original suspension until at least 4 June 4 as well as shutting down some domestic services.

Apr 22, 2020

An Ontario company which claimed a link to The 3M Company in advertising COVID-19 protective masks is being sued by the Minnesota-based giant. The action in Ontario Superior Court of Justice states that Caonic Systems Inc. of Waterloo used Internet-based marketing to sell N-95 masks at five times the suggested retail price.

Apr 22, 2020

Repeated suggestions that COVID-19 ws manufactured in a high-level containment lab in China are being discounted by the World Health Organization, which said 21 April that all available evidence points to animal-human transmission as the “likely” vector. The Wuhan Institute of Virology is dismissing the notion that it had synthesized the virus or permitted it to escape.

Apr 21, 2020

President Donald Trump said 20 April that he will sign an executive order “to temporarily suspend” immigration because of COVID-19 and to protect jobs. A White House spokesperson echoed the president 21 April but offered no additional insight.

Apr 21, 2020

The weekend shooting spree in Nova Scotia which left at least 23 dead, including a police officer and the gunman, has prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resurrect a promise during last fall’s election campaign to strengthen gun controls. “We were on the verge of introducing legislation to ban assault-style weapons across this country,” he said 20 April, explaining that his plan had been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “As long as Canadians are losing their loved ones to gun violence, not enough has changed.”

Apr 21, 2020

U.S. federal agencies that heeded President Donald Trump’s push to move operations to the cloud are being reminded that security is paramount. “We want to ensure that in these quick migrations that we’ve done, that we fully understand both the positives as well as some of the assumptions we’ve made,” says Matthew Scholl, chief of the Computer Security Division in the Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He and other officials warn that security could be compromised if vendors aren’t appropriately managed.

Apr 21, 2020

Essye Miller, principal deputy chief information officer at the Department of Defense, retiring at the end of June, is to be succeeded John Sherman, CIO of the Intelligence Community. Miller, who previously held senior Army and Air Force positions, played a key role in preparing the DoD for COVID-19. Sherman, who has been at the IC since September 2017 and is responsible for ongoing IT modernization, previously was with the CIA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Apr 20, 2020

The largest single-day drop in world crude oil prices 20 April was reflected in a major impact on Alberta, where Premier Jason Kenney called for more federal support for his province’s already floundering economy. Domestic oil prices plunged into negative territory as producers reportedly were willing to pay buyers to take oil off their hands due to a lack of storage capacity.

Apr 20, 2020

After three inconclusive general elections in less than a year, and faced with the prospect of a fourth in August, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz agreed 20 April to form a unity government.

Apr 20, 2020

The first docking of two orbiting unmanned commercial spacecraft is being reported by Virginia-based Intelsat Corp. It said 17 April that the mission has demonstrated a satellite life-extension capability of interest also to the military. Its Intelsat 901 communications platform was nearing the end of its operational life and its renewal was made possible by SpaceLogistics, a Northrop Grumman subsidiary.

Apr 20, 2020

Results of a national survey released 20 April by the Angus Reid Institute indicate that most Canadians are prepared for at least another 4-8 weeks of social distancing as governments try to contain COVID-19. Fully 77 per cent of the respondents evidently feel that it is too soon to be relaxing the current constraints and most say they would wait until the number of new confirmed cases had declined significantly.

Apr 20, 2020

Carmen Gentile, a longtime conflict reporter who was severely injured while embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2010, writes that the angry protests against the COVID-19 lockdowns in some U.S. states frighten him more than his experiences overseas.

Apr 20, 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern plans to ease New Zealand’s stringent COVID-19 lockdown 27 April. Thanking her people for “stopping an uncontrolled explosion” and doing “what very few countries have been able to do,” she said some businesses and schools will be permitted to reopen and limits on local travel are to be relaxed.

Apr 20, 2020

Fines of up to $2,000 per offense are proposed by British Columbia for persons who exploit the COVID-19 environment to engage in price gouging and resell medical supplies. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth. In addition, individuals who do not self-quarantine after returning from travel also could be liable for fines.

Apr 19, 2020

An RCMP officer is among 16 dead after a lone shooter took down "multiple" victims during a 12-hour rampage near Truro, Nova Scotia. Police neutralized the shooter at a truck stop near the town of Enfield. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, few other details are being released about the tragedy, such as whether fires blazing in the rural area of Portapique that night are connected to the shooter who reportedly owned three properties in the area.

Apr 19, 2020

Despite growing pressure in some parts of the U.S., Canada will keep its border closed to non-essential for at least 30 more days due to the COVID-19 crisis. “While we want to be optimistic, we need to be absolutely cautious,” Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said 18 April.

Apr 19, 2020

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, and the federal government need to be questioned about their handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. He says there are “important questions as to why certain directives were issued by the public health agency, and ultimately ministers are responsible for … the decisions they make based on whichever advice they take.”

Apr 19, 2020

Disruptions in primary elections and political infighting in the run up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election evidently are raising questions about the logistics of holding the national vote on schedule. It also prompts questions about President Donald Trump’s future.

Apr 19, 2020

Continued political deadlock as the two major parties in Israel are unable to form a workable government means that Israelis could be facing their fourth general election in 17 months. If the latest impasse cannot be resolved by early May, a new election would be held by early August. The country went to the polls in April and September 2019 and last month.

Apr 17, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense insists that a Federal Communications Commission plan to reallocate part of the radio spectrum for broadband communications will do “irreparable” harm to the Global Positioning System used for civilian as well as military navigation. The proposal requires only a majority vote by the five-person FCC to pass.

Apr 17, 2020

Despite a suggestion by President Donald Trump that the U.S. border with Canada “will be one of the early borders to be released” from COVID-19 travel restrictions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there is a “significant amount of time still before we can talk about loosening such restrictions.”

Apr 17, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump has backed down on his claim that he has absolute constitutional authority to force state governments to ease their COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. He now says governments can “call their own shots” on allowing businesses and some public institutions to reopen.

Apr 17, 2020

Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeated dismissed the threat of COVID-19, has fired his health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, for urging people to observe social distancing and stay indoors. Despite nearly 31,000 confirmed cases and some 2,000 deaths to date, Bolsonaro has called the virus “a little flu.”

Apr 17, 2020

Chinese officials say that a 50 per cent jump in the official number of deaths reported in Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 erupted in December, is due to updated reporting and deaths elsewhere than in hospitals. Insisting that there was no cover-up, they now put the total number of deaths at 3,869 in the city of more than 11 million people.

Apr 16, 2020

The federal government will review how it manages its National Emergency Stockpile System after it was disclosed that technically outdated equipment which could have been used in the COVID-19 campaign had been disposed of. Health Minister Patty Hajdu said 15 April that there are “opportunities to look at a process where that equipment is offered first of all to parts of Canada that may not have easy access to that equipment, and if not, then overseas to other countries that may need it.”

Apr 16, 2020

Canada’s chief public health officer says that while there is evidence that the spread of COVID-19 is slowing, with the number of cases in the country doubling every 10 days or so compared with every three days in late March, the battle is far from won. Likening the emergence from the pandemic to “making our way down the mountain in the darkness,” Dr. Theresa Tam warns that if governments “let go of our safety measures” too soon, “the fall will be hard and unforgiving.”<

Apr 16, 2020

The Canada Border Service Agency has reduced staffing hours at 27 low-volume land crossings in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec. Those normally open around the clock are closing earlier while others already on reduced schedules will see more cuts as well as weekend closures.

Apr 15, 2020

The federal government is willing to send money to provinces that want to augment the salaries for workers who have been deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re having discussions,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed 15 April, explaining that several jurisdictions are considering following Quebec’s lead in offering incentives.

Apr 15, 2020

A call by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be available for “regular opportunities” to ask questions in the House of Commons about the government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis has drawn a sharp rebuke from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. She said 15 April that Scheer “should be thinking over whether his actions look like he’s putting the public interest of all of Canadians first or his efforts to be part of this crisis.”

Apr 15, 2020

The federal government is considering legislation which would make it an offence to knowingly spread potentially harmful misinformation, as has been happening in several jurisdictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc said 14 April that he has discussed the idea with other cabinet members, including Justice Minister David Lametti, and evidently has New Democratic Party support.

Apr 15, 2020

Having cut its benchmark interest rate three times in recent months, the Bank of Canada said 15 April that it would remain at its “effective lower bound” of 0.25 per cent, which indicates no plans for further easing. The bank also said that due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19, it could not make economic predictions “with any degree of confidence”, only that economic activity in the next few months could be gross domestic product in the current quarter could be at least 15 per cent below 2019 year-end levels.

Apr 15, 2020

Other countries have condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to cut World Health Organization funding, warning that it could undermine the global effort to deal with COVID-19. Trump’s justification for cutting at least $400 million was what he said was the WHO’s role “in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus” once it had been identified in China.

Apr 14, 2020

President Donald Trump threatened 14 April to “put a hold” on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization, accusing it of a pro-China bias. “We're going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we're going to see,” he said at the White House, adding that he had not made a final decision. He tweeted earlier that the WHO is “largely funded” by the U.S. even though it is “very China-centric.”

Apr 14, 2020

The International Monetary Fund said the world this year likely suffer the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression as governments wrestle with COVID-19. The Washington-based IMF’s chief economist, Gita Gopindath, expects the global economy to contract by three per cent, a stark reversal of the 3.3 per cent growth it had forecast as recently as January. 

Apr 14, 2020

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and his counterparts across NATO are to discuss the alliance’s COVID-19 response during a videoconference 15 April. The pandemic is being described as the most comprehensive security challenge NATO has encountered.

Apr 14, 2020

The espionage trial in Moscow of a former US Marine, Paul Whelan, has begun behind closed doors more than a year after he was arrested. Prosecutors say he was in possession of state secrets stored in a thumb drive which Whelan says was planted by a former friend. Whelan also holds British, Canadian and Irish citizenship.

Apr 14, 2020

Concerns about the security of Zoom, the popular videoconferencing app, has prompted the U.S. Department of Defense to declare it off-limits to personnel for any official use. The FBI recently reported that the app had seen an increase in uninvited participants.

Apr 13, 2020

A recent meeting of NATO foreign ministers to discuss security issues, including the fallout from COVID-19, may be remembered more for its format than anything else, according to two senior members of the Washington-based Atlantic Council. They suggest the virtual meeting could enable the alliance to respond more rapidly to crises than traditional in-person gatherings.

Apr 13, 2020

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is balking at a proposed multinational accord to reduce crude oil production in the hope of reversing a steep global price decline. López Obrador is concerned that agreeing to lower output would compromise his plan to revive Mexico’s national oil company.

Apr 11, 2020

A $73-billion economic subsidy program designed to help businesses and employees to cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic was approved 11 April in an emergency sitting of Parliament. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said funds would be available within two to five weeks.

Apr 11, 2020

The head of the World Health Organizagion says that lifting COVID-19 restrictions too early could result in a “deadly resurgence” of the virus which has now killed more than 100,000 worldwide. Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that while there is a “welcome slowing” of the pandemic in parts of Europe and the WHO is working on easement strategies, “the way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly.”

Apr 10, 2020

The federal government has opted against immediate use of the sweeping powers provided for in the Emergency Act to address the COVID-19 situation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed this after a teleconference with his provincial and territorial counterparts and says the 1988 replacement for the even more authoritarian War Measures Act remains a last resort for Ottawa.

Apr 10, 2020

The House of Commons and Senate have been recalled for an 11 April sitting to discuss the government’s plan to expand a wage subsidy program. Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez requesting the sitting after coming to an agreement with the opposition parties.

Apr 10, 2020

Canadian Forces Intelligence Command is reported to have begun generating warnings about COVID-19 in early January. CFIC's medical intelligence cell is mandated to track global health developments with a view to predicting, with the assistance of the Five Eyes intelligence community, implications for military operations. It also was reported earlier this week that the cell’s U.S. counterpart had been tracking the initial Chinese outbreak as early as last November.

Apr 10, 2020

An early response to Canada's COVID-19 outbreak would have done more harm than good, says Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association. He told a virtual meeting of Members of Parliament that there would have been “very little” public support for lockdowns and social-distancing in January and that would have undermined health officials’ efforts when the situation became more dire.

Apr 10, 2020

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies in the so-called OPEC+ group of smaller producers have agreed to cut output by some 10 million barrels a day in May and June in an attempt to counter the price slump which began in March. The cuts are supposed to be eased later in the year and into 2021.

Apr 10, 2020

A former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund says western economies took the COVID-19 threat “a little more lightly” than Asian economies. Raghuram Rajan, now a finance professor at the University of Chicago, says this was partly due to there not having been “direct experience of a serious epidemic” and the perception that such outbreaks happen in “faraway lands.”

Apr 10, 2020

A UN-lead coalition is warning that global financial volatility and resulting market losses could precipitate a new international debt crisis. The Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development points out that investors have moved the equivalent of US$90 billion out of emerging markets since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the largest outflow on record. It is calling for a globally coordinated stimulus package, including reversing the decline in aid and immediate suspension of debt repayment by poorer countries.

Apr 10, 2020

The International Monetary Fund has been asked by Iran to approve a $5-billion loan to support its fight against COVID-19, The U.S. is understood to be opposed because Iran has sufficient internal funds, but President Hassan Rouhani says “there should be no discrimination” in approving requests.

Apr 10, 2020

The International Monetary Fund has been asked by Iran to approve a $5-billion loan to support its fight against COVID-19, The U.S. is understood to be opposed because Iran has sufficient internal funds, but President Hassan Rouhani says “there should be no discrimination” in approving requests.

Apr 09, 2020

Faced with growing pressure to take control of critical medical supplies and equipment in the fight against COVID-19, the federal government is seeking provincial and territorial feedback on possible invocation of the 1988 Emergencies Act. Among other things, it would give Ottawa the authority to redirect supplies to pandemic hot spots across the country.

Apr 09, 2020

A €500-billion ($750 billion) economic support package for European Union states hit hardest by COVID-19 has been agreed to by EU finance ministers after often fractious marathon talks in Brussels. However, they did not accede to a demand by France and Italy to have other states share the cost of the crisis by issuing “coronabonds.” The package also includes €200 billion ($300 billion) in guarantees from the European Investment Bank and a European Commission project for national short-time working schemes.

Apr 09, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, having tested positive for COVID-19, was removed from intensive care 09 April but remains in a London hospital.

Apr 09, 2020

The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear an appeal involving Quebec’s ban on the wearing of religious. Civil rights had sought leave to challenge a provincial appeal court had dismissed a request to suspend parts of the law pending a ruling on its constitutionality. As usual, the high court did not give a reason for its April 09 decision.

Apr 09, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 09 April that while his government hopes to begin economic recovery efforts once the first COVID-19 wave has passed, possibly by summer, it could be a year or more before all restrictions on public activities are removed. He said this essentially would reflect the time it takes for development of a vaccine.

Apr 09, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended nearly a month of self-isolation by arriving on Parliament Hill 08 April for his first live cabinet meeting since his wife tested positive for COVID-19 after attending an event in Britain. He told reporters that the government is keeping current mitigation measures in place “for many more weeks” to give authorities time to consider how to reboot the economy without causing more problems.

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