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PM’s former adviser says there’s no indication Canada was invited to join AUKUS defence pact



Canada was left out of the trilateral defence and security pact known as AUKUS — and a new report by a respected American think-tank says Ottawa must overcome its apparent indifference to the deal or risk being left behind by its allies.

The analysis report, published online Tuesday by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, was co-authored by Vincent Rigby, a former national security and intelligence adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The report pulled no punches.

“The glacial pace at which Canada appears to be adapting to the realities of modern great power competition has left it far behind the curve, with consequences for both Ottawa’s reputation among its allies and its ability to protect Canadian territory, sovereignty, and contribute to global peace and stability,” said the report, which probed the reasons why Canada was left out of AUKUS.


“The simple answer is that Ottawa was apparently not invited.”

Several defence and diplomatic sources have said Canada was not invited to take part before the pact was formally announced by the United States, Britain and Australia in September 2021 .

CBC News is not naming the confidential sources of information because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

Rigby said he saw no indication Canada was about to be invited to join the arrangement that became AUKUS just a few months before it was announced.

“There was no indication when I was national security and intelligence adviser” that a deal was in the works, said Rigby, whose tenure as Trudeau’s national security and intelligence adviser ended in June 2021. (He fully retired from the public service in September 2021.)

Rigby said that while he worked with Trudeau, he had “regular discussions” with Canada’s allies in the Five Eyes intelligence sharing partnership — Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand — and the idea of AUKUS membership never came up.

“I had regular discussions with my counterparts in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Australia. We talked about the threat environment,” he said. “We talked about how we, as a Five Eyes partnership, needed to do more in terms of responding to external threats, including from China, including in the Indo-Pacific region.

Canada not seen as a ‘significant player’

“But in terms of actually coming together and focusing on either submarine capability or broader defence, technological cooperation, that did not arise on my watch.”

He said that if Canada wasn’t invited to take part in AUKUS in the weeks following his departure from government, it “speaks volumes about the way Canada is perceived by its allies at the present time … that we’re not necessarily seen as a significant player on the international stage and in particular in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull told CBC News that it’s his understanding Canada was not invited because of its long-standing aversion to acquiring nuclear subs.

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks at government offices in Sydney on July 19, 2018.
Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull: ‘I can understand why Canadians are really puzzled why they were not brought into the loop.’ (Rick Rycroft/Associated Press)

“The initiative for AUKUS came about because the then-Australian government, led by Mr. [Scott] Morrison, wanted to break the contract with France and wanted to proceed with naval nuclear propulsion,” said Turnbull, referring to his country’s previous plan to buy conventional submarines from France. That plan was cancelled in favour of the AUKUS arrangement.

“They began with discussions with the British and … then they then found their way to Washington,” Turnbull added.

The AUKUS pact has two main components or “pillars”: the acquisition by Australia of American and British nuclear submarine technology, and transfers of military technology and intelligence.

Turnbull said that since Canada doesn’t operate or manufacture nuclear submarines, or aspire to build a nuclear fleet, it wasn’t part of the dialogue.

“I can understand why Canadians are really puzzled why they were not brought into the loop,” he said, pointing out that Canada has a lot of experience with nuclear energy technology. “Canada does have a considerable and extensive nuclear experience in terms of operating nuclear civilian nuclear power stations. Australia does not.”

‘It caught us unaware’

Turnbull’s assessment agrees with former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson’s perception of events.

“It caught us unaware, but the [political] balm was, well, we’ve got a preferred relationship with the United States, we don’t really need it,” said Robertson, now vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, an Ottawa-based think-tank that occasionally has hosted events sponsored by defence contractors.

The report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies said Canada would have been turned off by the cost of acquiring and maintaining a nuclear sub fleet through AUKUS.

A nuclear submarine travels on the surface as it leaves harbour.
In this photo provided by U.S. Navy, the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN 780) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for deployment on Sept. 1, 2021. (Amanda R. Gray/U.S. Navy via AP)

“The apparent indifference of Canada toward AUKUS seems to stem from a combination of sticker-shock and an inadequate understanding of the benefits to be derived from the agreement,” said the report, which noted the submarine portion of the deal could cost Australia between $268 billion and $368 billion Australian ($179 billion and $245 billion US) over a 30-year period.


Defence minister is asked whether Canada has requested to join AUKUS


Responding to questions about whether Canada has formally asked to be a part of AUKUS, Minister of National Defence Anita Anand says Canada is ‘highly interested in continuing to work with our allies, including Australia, the United States and the U.K.’

At an event on Wednesday at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Defence Minister Anita Anand was asked whether Canada was told the allies were negotiating the creation of AUKUS. She avoided answering the question.

Anand said Canada is looking “forward” in its relationships with allies and wants to work with them on advanced technologies, such as AI, quantum computing and various forms of defence tech.  She cited cooperation already underway between Canada and Australia on missile detection.

Canada has signaled it is interested in furthering its cooperation with allies in artificial intelligence and other high technology not related to the nuclear program.

Robertson said he doubts Canada’s allies are eager to see it at the table for the tech transfer and intelligence-sharing portion of the agreement.

“I don’t think the Australians want to see us in,” he said, adding that the Americans might admit Canada “if we push them hard enough.” He said that U.S. support likely would be conditional on Canada showing more initiative in meeting NORAD’s modernization goals in the Arctic.

Turnbull, however, argued that it’s in the best interests of all the allies to let Canada, and perhaps New Zealand, join the non-nuclear aspects of the arrangement.

“Is Canada better off not participating in the partnership with the U.K., Australia and the United States to build nuclear powered submarines? That is a question only Canadians can answer,” Turnbull said.

The former prime minister pointed out that the defence relationship between the members of the Five Eyes alliance “is so close already. Many people have questioned how it is possible for it to become any closer.

“But if it can be closer, if the collaboration, technological collaboration can become more seamless, that can only be a good thing.”

‘Canada has much to offer AUKUS’

The Center for Strategic and International Studies report agreed. It said that some of Canada’s policy framework and initiatives — particularly those related to the possession and development of critical minerals — make it an important potential partner.

“Canada has much to offer AUKUS, and vice versa,” said the report.

“But striking the right balance remains a challenge for both sides. For Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, opening the door to too many partners too soon risks making the agreement overly broad and unwieldy.”

For Canada, said the report, the downside of joining AUKUS would be “demands over the longer term for dramatic increases in defence spending which may not be easy for Ottawa and the public writ large to accept.”

The consequences of not joining could be even less palatable, the report said.

“Beyond reputational damage, Canada’s weak security stance in the face of growing challenges from revanchist and revisionist powers will compromise Canadian national interests, as can be seen with aggressive Russian moves in the Arctic and increasingly hostile Chinese activities in Canada, including electoral interference.”



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‘Abnormally dry’ conditions causing farmers concern in Atlantic Canada



Farmers in Atlantic Canada are growing increasingly worried about drought, as many regions on the east coast have been classified as drier than usual for this time of year, with little rain in the forecast.

According to the Canadian Drought Monitor, as of the end of April, numerous parts of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador were “abnormally dry,” with some areas in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. marked as experiencing “moderate drought.”

The lack of rain is having an effect: in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, food producers are using their water reserves two months earlier than expected.

William Spurr has been doing what he can to keep his fields from drying up, with much of his crop still in the ground. But he says a hot, dry spring and unusually cold nights have made growing conditions difficult.


“We’ve just been irrigating non-stop,” Spurr, president of Horticulture Nova Scotia, told CTV National News. “The last two and a half weeks, we’ve been irrigating probably as much as we normally would in like July and August, and it’s not even June yet.”

Spurr says he planned to install a costly irrigation system later this summer but was forced to do it now to ensure he wouldn’t lose a batch of young apple trees.

“I’m a little worried about what could come if we don’t get any rain,” he said. “If this keeps up, then we’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”

Greg Donald, potato board general manager for P.E.I., says many potato producers in the province only got a quarter of the rain that they usually get in both April and May.

“If we get rain, like good rain, over the next couple weeks, we’ll be fine, but if we don’t, it will be very concerning,” Donald said.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia experienced the driest April on record.

A mild winter followed by a sudden cold snap that plunged temperatures to -20 also took its toll on many farms, including those in Wolfville, N.S.

“That killed all the blossoms in the peaches and nectarines — 90 per cent of the cherries and 80 per cent of the plum blossoms are affected,” Andrew Bishop, of Noggin’s Farms, told CTV National News.

Researchers continue to point to climate change as the leading cause of these unpredictable weather events.

Increasingly, extreme weather events have become more erratic as the planet heats up, with weather events swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other, experts say.

“It’s either the coldest June temperature — in 2018 we had that frost — or its the coldest winter temperature we’ve had in the last 25 years, or its been one of the warmest winters we had,” Harrison Wright, Agriculture Canada researcher, told CTV National News.

Farmers say they’re relieved to see that there is some rain in the forecast, but they will need a lot more in the coming weeks to improve growing conditions on the surface.

With files from CTVNews.cas Alexandra Mae Jones



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Canada’s banks are guarding against bad loans. What this means for your money



Nestled in the balance sheets of Canada’s biggest banks are fears that the economy is set for a rough patch that could see more Canadians defaulting on their loans.

While some experts say the country’s banks are just “being prudent,” they say that move signals choppy waters ahead for Canadians with outstanding loans as interest rates continue to put pressure on household budgets.

Canada’s five biggest banks — RBC, Scotiabank, CIBC, BMO and TD Bank — moved in lockstep this past week to increase their loan loss provisions as they reported second-quarter earnings. All except for CIBC missed earnings expectations in the period.


Loan loss provisions, or provisions for credit losses, are essentially money that banks set aside in case the loans they’ve given out to clients go sour.

Laurence Booth, finance professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, says banks always try to put aside more money to cover these losses if they think their clients — be they everyday consumers, commercial customers or homeowners with a mortgage — are more likely to default on their loans.

With fears of a recession rumbling for much of the past year, Canada’s banks are building up their reserves in case the economy takes a hit and Canadians or businesses aren’t able to pay down their loans.

“This is (as) regular as clockwork. Whenever we get a slowdown in the economy, or a forecast of a slowdown …(the banks) increase their provisions,” Booth tells Global News.

Booth notes, as well, that just because banks are raising their provisions doesn’t mean they’ll need them if a pronounced recession doesn’t come to pass.

The last time Canadian banks raised their loan loss provisions by significant magnitudes was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when they feared consumers would be out of work and without steady income for an uncertain period of time.

Gregory Taylor, chief investment officer at Purpose Investments, says banks quickly lowered those provisions again once the federal government stepped in with COVID support programs in the early months of the pandemic.

“Now we’re seeing them reverse that, put them back on and try to be a little bit cautious heading into what could be a volatile period,” Taylor says.

“The banks are being a little prudent, from this point of view.”


Canadian banks not immune to U.S. turmoil

Canadian bank loan provisions also extend to lenders’ activities in the U.S. market, Booth notes, where the financial system has faced turmoil in recent months over the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and other regional players.

While Canada’s large and well-capitalized banks have been well-insulated from the specific vulnerabilities that spurred uncertainty south of the border, Booth says banks such as TD have been pushing more into the U.S. market in recent years and have to adjust their risk profiles accordingly.

“The strength of the Canadian banks has allowed them to move into the U.S. with acquisitions, but that then exposes them to the risks of the U.S. market, which generally has higher provisions for credit losses,” he says.

TD Bank’s planned $13.4-billion acquisition of U.S. regional bank First Horizon was scuttled earlier this month after regulators denied the necessary approvals for the deal.

While the acquisition’s collapse was a factor in TD’s earnings miss last quarter, the extra capital the bank now has on hand because of the failed deal is helpful given the dour economic outlook, said CEO Bharat Masrani on an earnings call.

“We are going through an uncertain period here from an economic perspective … so to have the level of capital we have, that is a good thing,” he said.

Taylor agrees that it was probably good for TD overall that it didn’t have to pay the original price it offered for First Horizon as regional banks in the U.S. go through a revaluation.

Some analysts have said TD should take the opportunity to pause and rethink its U.S. expansion strategy.

“TD should revisit the idea of whether or not they should be pursuing aggressive growth in United States banking through acquisitions,” Veritas analyst Nigel D’Souza told Reuters this week.

What do higher loan loss provisions mean for consumers?

Canada’s banks are battening down the hatches on the loan side of their businesses at the same time as Canadians’ debt levels, particularly mortgage debt, continue to climb.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) said this past week that the country has the highest household debt in the G7, with the bulk of that held in mortgage loans.

Total residential debt surpassed $2 trillion in January, CMHC said on Thursday, up six per cent year-over-year.

Canada’s economy is heavily reliant on the health of the housing market, which Taylor says means any signs of stress in banks’ mortgage books are “something to monitor” if they start to appear.

“It’s probably too soon to say whether it’s going to be a really big issue or not, but it’s definitely one of the reasons the banks were increasing their provisions going into the quarter,” he says.

Booth notes that mortgages are one of the last things Canadians’ tend to default on as they’re willing to make most sacrifices before losing their home and the equity they’ve built up in it, which helps keep rates of mortgage delinquency relatively low in Canada.

From a macro perspective, both Booth and Taylor say there’s not much cause for concern for the banks themselves as they’ve put aside more money for loans going bad.

But on an individual level, Canadians should take the higher loan loss provisions as a sign that they might need to tighten their belts in the months to come.

“While Canadians don’t have to worry about their banks, they do have to worry about whether they can afford higher interest costs and that means that they have to cut back other spending,” Booth says.

More on Money

Messaging from the Bank of Canada and U.S. Federal Reserve in recent weeks that interest rates might need to remain higher for longer — or even rise further — means that Canadians should plan for an elevated interest rate environment, Taylor says.

One way to do that, he says, is by keeping less money in chequing accounts and putting it in investment vehicles that are showing higher rates of return. Taylor says that’s a solid approach for anyone worried about their finances through an expected period of “turbulence.”

“For Canadian consumers, it’s something that everybody should be looking at to make sure you’re getting the most for your money with higher interest earned on your cash.”

— with files from The Canadian Press, Reuters



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Evacuation orders mount as fire rages in Upper Tantallon, Hammonds Plains area –



Nova Scotia RCMP have ordered residents of subdivisions in the Upper Tantallon/Hammonds Plains area to leave their homes in the face of a fast-moving wildfire.

The Westwood Hills subdivision in Upper Tantallon, N.S., was the first to begin an evacuation as the fire consumed at least 10 homes.

Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency District Chief Rob Hebb said dozens of crews were at the site attempting to control the fire. One helicopter was at the scene and another was on the way.


CBC Radio in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will carry a live call-in special on the fire starting at 8 p.m. AT, which can be listened to on CBC Radio.

Nova Scotia RCMP sent a tweet prior to an emergency alert being issued telling residents of the area to evacuate their homes immediately via Winslow Drive to Hammonds Plains Road. 

Fast-moving wildfire burning in Nova Scotia

1 hour ago

Duration 0:41

Crews in Nova Scotia are working to contain a wildfire that has forced the evacuations of two subdivisions and sent thick plumes of smoke into the sky, leading to an air quality alert for the Halifax area.

RCMP corrected an earlier tweet that indicated evacuation was via Windsor Drive.

Subsequent emergency alerts at 6:11 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. said the evacuation order was extended to residents of the Highland Park subdivision in nearby Yankeetown, Haliburton Hills, Glen Arbour, Pockwock Road, White Hills subdivision and Lucasville Road to Sackville Drive.

Residents were told to take their pets with them.

Photo of smoke over a wooded area with a Hammonds Plains and Bedford road sign in the foreground.
Fire officials said the fire had already consumed at least 10 homes and was spreading rapidly. (Katy Parsons/CBC)

People are being asked to stay away from the area to allow the evacuations to take place.

An emergency alert sent earlier said a comfort centre was open at the Black Point community centre.

A map shows areas of Tantallon and Hammonds Plains area where power has been cut
Power is out in much of the evacuated areas due to fire, according to Nova Scotia Power’s outage map. As of 8 p.m. AT on Sunday, more than 3,000 people had lost their power due to fire in the areas of Upper Tantallon, Stillwater Lake and Yankeetown. A further 1,372 people in the areas of Upper Hammonds Plains and Glen Arbour had lost their power because the outage was requested by authorities, according to the utility. (Nova Scotia Power)

Area resident Cynthia McKenzie said she left her home with her family and pets. She said they are safe and sheltering in a pet store in the area.

She said she was cooking dinner when her husband said they had to leave immediately.

“It just happened so fast,” she said. “I grabbed my animals as quick as I could and my photos and albums as best I could and got in the truck and headed out.” 

She said the smoke and flames were so bad that they had to turn around and take another route to get out of the subdivision. 

“You couldn’t see your hand in front of you,” she said.

Smoke from a wildfire is shown in the background of a photo of a  strip mall.
A photo taken Sunday shows smoke from fire in the area. (Dave Irish/CBC)

Shawn Beaulieu, another resident of the area, said he and his son were out shopping and were told to turn around when they tried to return to the subdivision where his wife was.

He said he and his son are taking temporary shelter at a restaurant in Upper Tantallon that opened its doors to evacuees.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s better to be alive,” he said. The three were reunited later in the day.

A long distance shot of smoke seen from Citadel Hill over downtown buildings in Halifax.
Smoke from the fire could be seen from Citadel Hill in Halifax on Sunday. (Celina Aalders/CBC)

Taylor Martin, who lives about a seven-minute drive from the fire said she and her partner, Kirk Jessome, were preparing for a possible evacuation order.

“We’re getting things together,” she said. “Packing up necessities, getting the crate for our cat ready, getting all our important documents ready. Making sure everything is set to go if we have to leave.”

She said she is lucky that she has family who will make room for them.

A view of flames over a forested areas with a lake in the foreground.
Residents of Westwood Hills and Yankeetown subdivisions were ordered to evacuate Sunday. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

He said that with the fire spreading, people are outside the subdivision and waiting for what is next. The area is packed with people and he said roads are jammed. 

Environment Canada issued an air quality alert for Halifax Metro and Halifax County West shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday. It said smoke from the fire in Upper Tantallon has reduced visibility and air quality in the area downwind of the fire. 

It said people respond differently to smoke and mild irritation and discomfort are common.

The alert said people should take a break from the smoke at a community location with cool, clean air.

A line of cars with a sign that says Westwood Boulevard at the side of the road.
Residents are seen leaving the area on Sunday afternoon. Evacuatation orders were issued for two subdivisions. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said firefighters have a number of challenges.

“Halifax firefighters are not only battling the fire, they are also battling the wind,” he said. “Gusty west/southwest winds are fanning the flames right now.

“Winds shift to northerly this evening, but unfortunately, will remain breezy through the day on Monday. Winds look set to become lighter Monday night and Tuesday.”

Snoddon said there was a chance of isolated showers later Sunday, but they wouldn’t be of much help to the firefighters. He said there isn’t another significant chance of rain until Friday.


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