Connect with us

News

Police fatality fallout and Emergencies Act inquiry launches: In The News for Oct. 13

Published

 on

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Oct. 13 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Ontario’s police watchdog is continuing its investigation today into a shooting at a home north of Toronto that left two officers and a young man dead.

The Special Investigations Unit says the South Simcoe police officers died in hospital and the 23-year-old man died at the home after an exchange of gunfire Tuesday night in Innisfil, Ont.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

A spokesperson for the watchdog says police were called to the home by family members at the residence and that an autopsy for the young man is scheduled for Friday.

The South Simcoe Police Service has identified the officers as Const. Devon Northrup – who worked with outreach and mental health teams – and Const. Morgan Russell, a trained crisis negotiator.

The SIU said it would not be identifying the young man, but a source close to the investigation identified him as Chris Doncaster.

Also this …

The public inquiry investigating the federal government’s unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act in February begins today in downtown Ottawa.

Parties to the inquiry including “Freedom Convoy” organizers, the prime minister, seven federal ministers, police forces and officials from all levels of government are expected to appear in the coming weeks.

Commissioner Paul Rouleau and his staff are expected to spend the first day presenting documents and evidence ahead of witness testimony starting Friday.

The hearings at Library and Archives Canada will be livestreamed and members of the public can share their views with the commission online.

The federal Liberals used the Emergencies Act for the first time to give authorities greater powers amid border blockades and the occupation of downtown Ottawa by protesters demonstrating against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and lockdowns.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Ukrainian leaders are pressing the U.S. and Western allies for air defence systems and longer-range weapons to keep up the momentum in their counteroffensive against Russia and fight back against Moscow’s intensified attacks.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says allies are committed to sending weapons “as fast as we can physically get them there.”

But there are still a number of high-profile, advanced weapons that Ukraine wants and the U.S. won’t provide.

Defence analysts cite political sensitivities, classified technology or limited stockpiles.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un has supervised tests of long-range cruise missiles, which he described as a successful demonstration of his military’s expanding nuclear strike capabilities and readiness for “actual war.”

The comments were carried in state media on Thursday. The tests on Wednesday extended a record number of weapons demonstrations this year by North Korea, which has punctuated the tests with threats of nuclear conflicts against Washington and Seoul.

South Korean officials say Kim may also conduct a nuclear test in the coming weeks or months, escalating a pressure campaign aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power and negotiating concessions from a position of strength.

On this day in 54 A.D. …

Roman Emperor Claudius the First died after being poisoned, apparently at the behest of his wife, Agrippina.

In entertainment …

Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou were partners-in-crime on stage in “Sweeney Todd” and crime busters in episodes of T-V’s “Murder, She Wrote.”

The actors were also friends and admirers.

They stayed in touch over the years after becoming the toasts of Broadway and Tony Award winners for Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 musical. Lansbury and Cariou made a point of speaking on their birthdays; October 16th for Lansbury, and September 30th for Cariou.

He guest-starred on a number of “Murder, She Wrote” episodes in the 1980s and early 90s. The British-born Lansbury died Tuesday at age 96 in her Los Angeles home.

Did you see this?

A Connecticut jury has ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $965 million to Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims’ relatives and an FBI agent.

They said Jones turned their loss and trauma into years of torment by promoting the lie that the rampage was a hoax.

The verdict is the second big judgment against Jones for claiming the massacre was staged. Jones says he now believes the shooting was real, but he says he had a right to publicly question whether it happened.

A Texas jury in August ordered Jones to pay $50 million to the parents of another slain child.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2022

 

The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

News

How Canadians Can Travel Visa Free In Any EU Country

Published

 on

The Canadian passport has gone from strength to strength. Currently presented as the eighth strongest passport to hold worldwide, it allows residents access to over 180 countries travelling visa-free. A large percentage of these countries are situated within the EU, where Canadians can stay for 90 days, sometimes more, without the need for a costly and time-delaying visa holding things up. There are plenty of opportunities within this scope to be taken advantage of for Canadian citizens, and this guide explores the best of the best and the reasons why.

Strong Global Relationships

The main consideration for this post is that Canada has built strong and stable relationships with many countries around the world. Its economy has gone from strength to strength, and it has been able to create amazing trade links globally. Canada is well-known as a trustworthy ally and has played a part in many major world negotiations, bringing relevant and reliable factors to the table. Canada has moved a long step away from being associated with British governance and has forged independence in many respects.

All About the Schengen Zone

The Schengen area comprises of 26 countries. It removes international borders through the creation of universal exit and entry stipulations for those wanting to visit for any purpose within a 90-day period. This is the main component that allows Canadian citizens to travel visa-free across these countries.

List of Countries in the Schengen Zone

  • Malta
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Austria
  • Norway
  • The Netherlands
  • France
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Iceland
  • Greece
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Denmark
  • Spain
  • Luxembourg
  • Lithuania

The Requirements

So, what are the rules and regulations for border access in the Schengen zone? In short, there aren’t many. Canadians wishing to travel to this zone are required to get their passports stamped by the authorities on arrival. They can come and go over 180 days for any 90-day period. Aside from this, there are no more restrictions in place. Certain countries require visa-free travellers to report to the authorities when they arrive, but this is not true everywhere.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

Beyond the Schengen Zone

Outside of these countries, there are over 100 additional countries that Canadian travellers can visit without a visa. Inside of the EU, this includes the United Kingdom, where Canadian residents can enjoy up to six months of visa-free restrictions. This is why it has gained status as one of the top ten strongest passports in the world.

The Malta Example

The most obvious allure of visa-free travel is the opportunity to invest and make roots in an economically prosperous country. Real estate, for example, for international investors, has seen major lucrative returns in various countries worldwide. The example here focuses on Malta and everything that has to offer. If you are looking to invest and get residency in Malta, the process is even easier for Canadian residents who enjoy the benefits of visa-free head starts.

There are lots of reasons to invest in property here, from the strong economy to positive living standards and vast property options. It is also a stepping stone to permanent residency, should that be a route you wish to tread. Thanks to the 90-day visa-free sounding board, there is plenty of opportunity to lay down roots and even find permanent commerce ventures.

Benefits of Visa-Free Travel

There are a few benefits to visa-free travel worth noting. Aside from the investment door being held open, general convenience is also a factor.

No Fees

Visa fees can be a costly expense that eats away at your budget for actual travelling. There is not much you can do to get around these fees, and they must be paid to secure a visa for the country. Therefore, when you don’t need one, not only is it less expensive, but there is also a clear financial benefit as a direct result.

No Lengthy Delays

Visas for EU countries might have a quick turnaround, but this entirely depends on how well you fill in the forms and who is around to process them. It has been known to take weeks of administrative duties to fulfill the criteria. There is documentation to send back and forth, and official registrations to adhere to. The whole process is long, arduous, and not entirely intuitive.

Free Range Travel

If you fancy hopping from country to country at short notice, this is one of the main appeals of visa-free living. You can go wherever you like whenever you feel the itch. There are no barriers within the countries that acknowledge Canadian residents as having visa-free benefits.

Flexible Adventures

It also allows for a greater degree of flexibility as per your travel arrangements and in general. If you need to leave, for example, because of unexpected circumstances, your trip won’t be lost. You can return within the stipulated timeframe or even outside of it if you follow the rules.

No Hoops to Jump Through

The biggest benefit is that there are no hoops to jump through at the border control point either on arrival or exit.

Conclusion

Canadians have one of the strongest passports in the world. Ranking at number eight, they have a unique status globally in that nearly 200 countries allow Canadian citizens to visit and travel for extended periods visa-free. Canada has strong global ties, a favourable economy, exemplary educational opportunities, and a renowned healthcare system. It has long been a country of peace and its residents are enjoying the benefits of the strength of forged relationships.

Continue Reading

News

Advocates criticize slow expansion of needle exchange program in federal prisons

Published

 on

The federal prison needle exchange program is failing because of a poor rollout by the Correctional Service of Canada and a lack of improvement since it was introduced four years ago, health advocates say.

Inmates at nine of the 43 federal prisons have had access to sterile equipment for drug use since the program last expanded in 2019, and last summer officials said it would be implemented across the country.

The HIV Legal Network published a report this week that found the program is still inaccessible to most people and has not expanded beyond those nine institutions.

In June, only 53 people — of nearly 13,000 offenders in federal custody — were participating in the program.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

Sandra Ka Hon Chu, co-executive director of the HIV Legal Network, said multiple layers of institutional approval and stigma are key reasons for the low participation rates.

“A lot of people who want to access the program because there’s injection drug use happening inside prisons are not able to access it because of the multiple barriers to participation,” she said.

The federal government said it is committed to expanding the program but that COVID-19 caused a delay in its plans.

A June 15 briefing note prepared for Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said consultations were held in early 2020 to expand the program to two more institutions, but “following delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, re-engagement with these sites is required.”

The note, obtained through an access-to-information request, also said Correctional Service Canada would prepare plans for additional sites to be confirmed this fall.

Correctional Service spokeswoman Esme Bailey said in an emailed statement that the department is still committed to putting the program in more prisons and consultations continue.

For people behind bars, participation in the program requires approval that includes an evaluation by a nurse and a threat assessment approved by a warden. No reasons are provided as to why an application is given the green light or not.

Ka Hon Chu says the process creates an “extremely high barrier” that dissuades people from applying “because there is zero guarantee of actually being accepted.”

The HIV Legal Network study, which was done with the help of Toronto Metropolitan University, said the assessment process is based on “security rather than clinical need” and the program requires daily inspections to verify equipment is being used correctly.

Participants are given a kit containing one syringe, one cooker, three water bottles, one vitamin C and filters. They are required to always keep the kit visible in their cell and visit a nurse when replacement pieces are needed.

Ka Hon Chu said participants are effectively “outing” themselves as drug users and risk being stigmatized by other inmates, correctional staff and the parole board.

“People were concerned that they would get more heavily surveilled as a result of their participation, that they would (be) more heavily scrutinized,” she said, noting one of the most common concerns the group heard is that people may be denied access to other programs as a result of taking part in the needle exchange.

The report recommends enhancing confidentiality by removing the need for daily visual inspections and by offering more discreet distribution points.

It also said a lack of knowledge about the program is affecting uptake.

Advocates argue in the absence of adequate programming aimed at harm reduction, the risk of HIV infection will continue to rise because people are relying on using unsanctioned, unsafe means of using drugs while behind bars.

“The concern is that there’ll be more equipment floating around in prisons, but the reality is that there is a lot of injection equipment already in prisons that (is) just not regulated and it’s not sterile,” said Ka Hon Chu.

The correctional investigator said in his latest annual report, released last summer, that the needle exchange program “exists more in name than in practice” because of low participation rates.

Ivan Zinger, who has raised the same concern in previous reports, also said the Correctional Services drug strategy needs substantive reforms.

He said the culture in Canadian prisons “remains mired in a prohibitive and repressive mindset.”

“Maintaining a zero-tolerance approach to drugs that relies on ever more intrusive detection, disciplinary and repressive measures — strip-searches, body cavity scanning, cell searches, charges, urinalysis testing — is a costly game of diminishing returns,” the report said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.

— With files from Stephanie Taylor

Continue Reading

News

Canada struggles with curbing foreign interference: ‘Often we cannot do anything’

Published

 on

That was the assessment given to a House of Commons committee earlier this month by Canada’s deputy commissioner of elections, referring to 23 files their office received about potential foreign interference in the country’s two most recent elections.

The details of the complaints, lodged by members of the public, are not widely known. But they have not resulted in any consequences to date.
And while the RCMP confirmed this week that they are probing “broader foreign actor interference activities,” the force noted that the investigations are among the most sensitive files currently handled by the force. That’s likely not only due to the political sensitivities involved, but the sophistication of some of the actors believed to be exerting the influence.

Some of these reported influence activities don’t break the letter of federal elections law, while others fall outside the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Canada Elections — such as the deliberate sowing of misinformation.

But deputy commissioner Marc Chénier’s comments suggest gaps in efforts to curb foreign influence in Canadian elections. Canadian security and intelligence agencies are increasingly sounding the alarm about the issue, and one country in particular: China.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

“Beijing starts off by wanting to suppress, to the extent it can, anything negative about itself,” Dick Fadden, Canada’s former spymaster and a national security advisor to two prime ministers.

“It doesn’t like negative press, it doesn’t like negative bills before Parliament or a legislature. It wants to be able to have people in place who will not do negative things, or who will fight negative things.”

According to the elections watchdog, the complaints against “foreign components” can pose significant hurdles to their investigations, and noted the challenge is “not unique” to their office.

Some activities, like spreading misinformation on social media platforms, fall outside the commissioner’s jurisdiction. And without a foreign agents registry — which would require anyone acting on behalf of a foreign power to publicly declare their work — much of it goes unnoticed by the wider public.

“We have to compare this kind of activity with other activities with foreign involvement that are more concrete. Terrorism, for example, there’s a bomb involved, there’s something concrete,” Fadden said. “You can pursue it; you can find it.

“Here, it’s much more difficult. You can’t have (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) investigating all constituencies in Canada for this kind of thing, that would be an affront to democracy in itself.”

Questions about foreign interference have once again become an issue of debate in the House of Commons after Global News reported earlier in November that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet were briefed in January 2022 about a clandestine network guided by the Chinese consulate in Toronto.

According to Global News sources, this loosely affiliated group comprised politicians and aides from the Liberals and Conservatives, with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) attempting to place people sympathetic to its agenda in political offices to influence government policy.

Other intelligence sources told Global that the consulate disbursed $250,000 through proxies to the network, which included 11 or more candidates standing for election in 2019.

While the briefings did not allege that Beijing was directly funding those candidates, that’s how the issue has been interpreted in the political debate in the House of Commons.

“I do not have any information, nor have I been briefed on any federal candidates receiving any money from China,” Trudeau said in response to Global’s reporting.

“The Prime Minister has used words to obscure the answer. He says that there was not interference in a significant way that would have changed the outcome (of the 2019 election),” charged Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre on Tuesday.

“Was there any interference of any kind?”

“Interference in Canadians’ affairs by foreign powers is an ongoing thing,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded.

“Whether it is cyber interference, whether it is interference with communities in Canada, whether it is attempts to influence the media, these are things that take place on an ongoing basis and things that our intelligence agencies and police agencies work very hard to counter. However, Canadians can be reassured that the integrity of our elections was not compromised.”

The Canadian government started taking election interference seriously in 2017 — largely in response to the 2016 U.S. presidential election and questions about Russian interference. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapped key ministers to monitor and counter foreign interference, and the country’s spy and law enforcement agencies were tasked with ensuring the integrity of the 2019 and 2021 elections.

Despite the intelligence agencies’ attention — and the documented evidence of pervasive foreign influence in Canadian domestic affairs — there have been no charges, and senior bureaucrats have determined the activity merits publicly warning of Canadian voters.

Trudeau has focused his responses to Global News’ reporting on the fact that senior officials — including Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault — have confidence in the integrity of recent elections.

But both things can be true at the same time — that the overall integrity of the vote in 2019 was not compromised, and foreign powers attempted to influence the results in specific ridings.

That there were foreign influence operations targeting the 2019 election is not in dispute. A February 2021 document from the federal Public Safety department reviewed by Global News stated the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) investigated multiple foreign “threats” during that election, and provided classified briefings about the operations to a panel of senior bureaucrats tasked with safeguarding the election.

The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) found that the service strayed from the law in attempting to disrupt some of those perceived threats.

Documents tabled by the RCMP with a Commons committee this week suggest the national police force is currently probing foreign interference, but declined to share details about their ongoing investigations.

“Foreign actor interference investigations are some of the most sensitive national security investigations the RCMP currently conducts, and it must make every effort to protect the integrity of these investigations,” RCMP Chief Brenda Lucki told the Procedure and House Affairs committee, which is investigating questions about foreign influence operations, in a letter.

Fadden told Global News that he doesn’t believe security and intelligence agencies have enough “tools” to pursue complex foreign influence investigations.

“They certainly have a general awareness. Do they have all the tools (they need)? I’m not sure,” he said.

Another former national security advisor to Trudeau, Vicent Rigby, has advocated for a federal registry of Canadians engaged by a foreign power to act on its behalf.

Similar registries have been put in place by close security allies, including the United States and Australia. The United Kingdom recently proposed its own version.

“As an open democracy, Canada has found itself susceptible to interference from adversaries such as China, Russia and Iran, but also from allies or partners such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and India. Such interference can include threats, intimidation, and harassment of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, in some cases pressuring them to stop criticizing the human rights and other policies of those states,” read a recent report on Canada’s national security policy, co-led by Rigby.

“While Canadian law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been aware of these concerns for years, individuals who face such harassment are often bounced between local police, the RCMP, CSIS, and other organizations, and express frustration that their appeals are lost interagency processes.”

Former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu proposed a Canadian version of a foreign agents registry in April 2021. The bill went nowhere — dying after first reading in the House of Commons, and Chiu went on to lose his Richmond, B.C. riding in the 2021 election.

Chiu’s riding was one of 13 the Conservatives suspected was targeted by Beijing, and Chiu claimed he was the target of a “smear campaign” during the election as a result of his push for a registry.

Even with more transparency around foreign interventions, or more powers for security and intelligence agencies to investigate these threats, it will be difficult for Canadian authorities to hold determined and sophisticated foreign actors from attempting to influence the country’s democratic process.

“Tracking the financial flows ranges from very straightforward to impossible,” said Insight Threat Intelligence’s Jessica Davis, a former Canadian security analyst specializing in financial intelligence.

“If they don’t feel like they’re breaking any laws, and they’re not concerned about the perception of foreign influence or foreign interference, they could be doing something as simple as sending an electronic funds transfer … to the candidate’s campaign. If you have a warrant, that is a clear, very easy thing to track.”

“If they are concerned about people knowing about it, and traceability, then we start getting into the realm of potential third parties, front companies, front accounts, cash transactions. It really ranges in terms of sophistication from absolutely none to you will only ever have a theory about this and won’t be able to prove it,” Davis added.

A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said Beijing “never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs,” and suggested allegations China interfered in the 2019 federal election are “completely groundless.”

With files from Global News’ wire services.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending