Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was provided a classified memo on the subject of “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)” in February, CTV News has learned.
Obtained through a freedom of information request, the heavily redacted document offers a glimpse into how the Canadian government responded to the unidentified object that was detected and shot down over northern Canada’s Yukon territory on Feb. 11. According to the “Secret” memo, the Yukon object was the 23rd so-called “UAP” tracked over North America in the first few weeks of 2023.
“NORAD numbers objects on a sequential basis, per year, to track every detected object that is not immediately identified; upon cross-examination most objects are found to be innocuous and do not meet the threshold for higher reporting or engagement,” the memo explained. “Object #23’s function, method of propulsion, or affiliation to any nation-state remains unverified.”
After decades of denial and dismissal by U.S. authorities, the Pentagon, NASA and American lawmakers are now investigating what they call “unidentified anomalous phenomena” or “UAP” – official terms for what are more commonly known as “unidentified flying objects” and “UFOs.”
“UAP #23” was one of three unidentified objects shot down by fighter jets over North America earlier this year, immediately following the Feb. 4 downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon. While the three objects have not been publicly identified, all were reportedly much smaller than the 200-foot-tall apparent Chinese surveillance device.On Feb. 16, U.S. President Joe Biden said the three mysterious objects likely no posed no threat and were probably private or research balloons.
Transmitted on Feb. 14, the “Memorandum for the Prime Minister” was classified “Secret” and for “limited distribution.” It was CC’d to Trudeau’s national security advisor, Jody Thomas, and signed by Janice Charette, who then served as the powerful clerk of the Privy Council.
Canada’s Privy Council Office, or PCO, is a centralized hub that directs the country’s public service and is responsible for providing non-partisan support to the prime minister and cabinet as they make policy decisions.
Detected on the afternoon of Feb. 11, the Yukon object was shot down the same day by a U.S. F-22 fighter jet. At the time officials described it as a “suspected balloon” that was “cylindrical” in shape.
“NORAD Canadian CF-18 Hornets had been scrambled but the F-22s were better located based on time, space, and fading light,” the memo stated. “As additional UAP are detected, we will continue to keep you apprised.”
Due to harsh winter conditions and the remote mountainous terrain, efforts to recover debris from the Yukon object were called off on Feb. 17.
“It is unknown whether it poses an armed threat or has intelligence collection capabilities,” the memo added. “The area in which the impact occurred is a known (caribou) migration route, which opens the possibility of future accidental discovery by Indigenous hunters.”
Extensive redactions were made to the memo under sections 15 and 69 of Canada’s Access to Information Act, which pertain to national security and cabinet confidentiality.
The declassified document was provided to CTVNews.ca by a civilian researcher who wished to remain anonymous. CTVNews.ca verified the document’s authenticity by filing a new information request with the Privy Council Office. The PCO and Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.
In a statement to CTVNews.ca, Canada’s Department of National Defence would not disclose how many other unidentified objects have been detected over North America since the flurry of February incidents.
“Following the identification of the larger high-altitude surveillance balloon, NORAD adjusted our detection capabilities to give us better fidelity on seeing smaller, slower objects at various altitudes,” a Canadian defence spokesperson said. “Each event is unique and NORAD’s response is determined on a case-by-case basis.”
Short for North American Aerospace Defense Command, Norad is a joint Canada-U.S. defence group that is responsible for protecting the continent from incoming attacks.
Iain Boyd, a professor of aerospace engineering and director of the Center for National Security Initiatives at the University of Colorado, says the memo shows how Canadian and U.S. elements of Norad effectively work together “without regards to national boundaries.”
“It also appears to indicate a low level of understanding of the object in terms of its capabilities and function,” Boyd added. “Under normal circumstances, you’d like to think that the decision to shoot it down would only be made after a thorough assessment had been made of the danger it posed based on all information available.”
Boyd says the events of February illustrate Canadian and U.S. limitations when it comes to detecting, tracking and identifying objects in their airspace.
“We have gone from a crazy few days where four objects were shot down, to nothing in the six months since,” Boyd said. “It would be interesting to know what changes in procedures, if any, have been undertaken by Norad and other organizations charged with protecting Canada and the U.S.”
The Canadian military routinely states that it “does not typically investigate sightings of unknown or unexplained phenomena outside the context of investigating credible threats, potential threats, or potential distress in the case of search and rescue.”
A federal aviation incident database shows that reports of unusual lights and objects in Canadian airspace have been filed for decades by police officers, soldiers, air traffic controllers and pilots on medical, military, cargo and passenger flights operated by WestJet, Air Canada Express, Porter Airlines, Delta and more. Transport Canada, which operates the database, also does not typically follow up on such reports.
In March, CTVNews.ca revealed that the federal government’s top scientist had launched the first official Canadian UAP study in nearly three decades. Known as the Sky Canada Project, the effort from Office of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada seeks to understand how UAP reports “are managed in Canada and to recommend improvements.” A new Sky Canada Project webpage promises a final public report in 2024.
Canada secures second place in 2023 Best Country Rankings
Achieving second place might sound like a disappointment. However, the second place means a lot in the global ranking of countries, and Canada has recently secured that spot.
The 2023 Best Countries rankings by US News & World Report placed Canada in second place. In the rankings, Switzerland won the first place and Sweden in third place.
By taking up the second place, Canada toppled Germany since the country earned the second place last year. Consequently, Australia and the US occupied the fourth and fifth place in the rankings.
The ranking system
US News’ Best Countries ranking system is a yearly ranking of the best countries to live in according to several metrics. The annual ranking originally started in 2015, in which the ranking attempts to “examine a country’s merit beyond hard metrics.”
To determine the ranks, the news outlet consults several prominent institutions. They include the global advertising company WPP and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. US News & World Report uses the former’s BAV brand analytics tool and consults with the latter’s professor David Reibstein. Thus far, the news outlet relies on 73 attributes to describe a country and identify its recent successes.
Subsequently, the news outlet distributed the survey from March 17 to June 12 to 17,000 respondents around the world. The survey includes 87 nations, and the respondents will assess the countries’ merits based on their perceptions.
Other than Canada, the top 10 countries in the ranking come from highly developed countries around the world such as Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, Australia, Japan, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.
Canada exceeded the score of 90 in agility (94.1), quality of life (92.7), and social purpose (93.4). The following scores are entrepreneurship (84.2), open for business (80.1), cultural influence (55.0), adventure (54.5), power (41.9), and heritage (41.6).
Canada concluded its ranking by obtaining a score of 17.8 for the Movers metric with attributes such as differentness, distinctiveness, dynamicity, and uniqueness. Of the four, dynamicity occupies the top ranking with a score of 36.8. Distinctiveness takes second place in 26.3, followed by the measly scores of differentness and uniqueness of 5.0 and 9.3, respectively.
Another thing to consider in the Movers category is the recent issues of surging living costs and housing. As Canada’s housing crunch continues, this might have affected people’s perception of the reality of living in the country.
Canada’s strong scores
There are several reasons why Canada managed to snatch the runner-up position in the 2023 Best Countries rankings. Its global connectivity and decent job market, for instance, almost reached a perfect score with 95.5 and 98.4, respectively, thanks to Canada’s reputation as a highly interconnected country with good job prospects.
According to US News, Canada is a high-tech industrial society with high living standards. After the trade agreements with the US in the 1980s and 1990s, both countries have become each other’s largest trading partners.
In addition, US News also said that Canada owes its economic success to the service sector and export of energy, food, and minerals. With the availability of proven oil reserves, Canada has emerged as the world’s fourth-largest oil producer.
Canada also won the perfect score in the racial equality and religious freedom categories. Thanks to the myriad of ethnic and religious groups in the country, Canada has attained the status of a multicultural society. Despite the post-Christian and secular state of modern Canada, Canada’s multiculturalism allows many religions and beliefs to flourish in the country.
Another reason behind Canada’s high rank in the Best Countries rankings is the near-perfect score of economic stability and hospitality to families. Owing to Canada’s famed reputation as a comfortable country to live in, many people think it’s best to raise families there.
The tourism industry in Canada is also something to behold. Canadian urban and natural tourist spots from British Columbia to Nunavut spoil domestic and foreign tourists with abundant options. Tourists can experience anything from Canada’s natural majesty to urban excellence in any of Canada’s provinces and territories.
The availability of SIM providers such as eSIM United States tourists adds to the convenience of tourists from the US and anywhere else. Various kinds of data plans are also available in Canada, which makes the country a desirable destination for travel aficionados who love to share their journeys online. With these plans, tourists don’t have to worry about internet coverage anymore when they explore Canada.
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Story from the Cyber Frontlines
Long ago, but not too far away, in one of my past lives, I used to manage the online operations for a bustling retail brand. It was a colorful, kid-friendly virtual wonderland known for its cheeky prints, chirpy characters, and evergreen joie de vivre. However, there was another side to this fun façade, an unseen realm perpetually under siege. Among the numerous safety protocols and countless lines of code, we fought an incessant cyber-war, forever alight with skirmishes and strategic defenses.
Armoring the Cyber Stronghold
Selecting the right platform is the cornerstone of any secure online presence. In our story, we opted for a reputable e-commerce platform with significant market presence and advanced inbuilt safety features. Reliable platforms usually mean fewer vulnerabilities. They also come with a dedicated security team that regularly rolls out updates and patches. During my years at the helm, I witnessed a flurry of urgent midnight updates, each one addressing newly discovered vulnerabilities. The vital lesson here is to ensure you install these patches promptly and regularly.
SSL certificates, though they may sound technical, are one of the easiest yet powerful security upgrades you can adopt. This encryption tool prevented potential interception of sensitive information between the user’s browser and our site—yet another bulwark to impede the progress of cyber invaders.
We cannot talk about fortifications without discussing the potential armor breaches. Unfortunately, human error, often in the form of weak password policies, is a recurrent kink in the armor. To counter these vulnerabilities, we maintained a robust password policy requiring a mix of alphanumeric and special characters. This policy, when paired with mandatory regular updates, significantly enhanced our safety measures.
Lastly, we utilized an assortment of digital security tools. Website firewalls, security plugins, scanner tools, and even the humble CAPTCHA contributed to presenting advanced cyber deterrence. Access to these tools depended on the chosen platform, a factor to consider when setting up a secure online presence.
Lessons from the Cyber Kingdoms
One of the many retail websites that have significantly benefitted from implementing robust website security measures is well-known children’s brand. Implementing thorough security protocols, up-to-date SSL certificates, and regular security audits resulted in a drastic reduction in data breach.
The same success was echoed in another kid’s e-commerce platform that faced attempted breaches. Here, strong password policies, combined with additional layers of verification, staved off any potential security breach. You can read more about their success story here.
Navigating the Cyber Seas
Merely having top-tier security systems is not enough. The rolling out of these measures confronts two significant barriers – technical difficulties and cost issues. However, these challenges are conquerable with effective planning and strategies.
To tackle technical difficulties, investing in a dedicated IT team and providing them with the necessary resources and training is crucial. This team, capable of handling any technical issue, can implement updates and fixes diligently, securing your website from potential breaches.
In addressing cost issues, consider it an investment. Remember that the potential harm a security breach can wreak ranges from financial losses to irreversible damages to reputation. Adopt a tiered implementation approach, starting with affordable solutions such as strong password policies, gradual enhancements to SSL certificates, and eventually a holistic security system.
Being prepared always makes a world of difference. In today’s world where the cyber realm goes hand in hand with our physical space, the same holds for the security of our digital strongholds.
An Unforgettable Lesson in Website Security
Let me share an anecdote about a time when one of my clients, a prominent retailer in the children’s fashion industry, faced a massive security issue that nearly brought their brand to its knees. It was a typical Tuesday afternoon when I received a frantic call from the client. Their online store had been hacked, and customer data was compromised. It was a nightmare situation, one that they never foresaw. This experience was a wake-up call, not just for them, but for me as well, about the importance of website security, especially in the realm of kids’ retail.
The Risks of Unsecured Kids’ Retail Sites
Children are an easy target for cybercriminals. Their innocence and lack of awareness make them vulnerable to scams, fraud, and identity theft. When a kids’ retail website does not prioritize security, it exposes its young users to a host of risks.
- Children’s Data Misuse: Personal details such as names, addresses, and even photos can be harvested and used for malicious purposes. This can range from creating fake profiles to conducting targeted scams.
- Consequences of a Security Breach: In a worst-case scenario, credit card information can be stolen resulting in financial loss. The breach can lead to legal implications, not to mention, a significant loss of customer trust and brand reputation.
Why is Security Essential for Kids’ Retail Sites?
As administrators, owners, or marketers of kids’ retail sites, it is our responsibility to ensure a safe online shopping experience for our young customers. Let’s explore a few reasons why website security should be non-negotiable.
- Protecting Users’ Sensitive Information: A secure website uses encryption to protect sensitive information, ensuring that even if data is intercepted, it cannot be read or misused.
- Maintaining Brand Reputation: A secure shopping environment builds customer trust. In contrast, a single security breach can cause irreversible damage to your brand’s reputation.
Prioritize Website Security
Understanding why website security is crucial for kids’ retail sites is the first step. The next, and arguably more important step, is to take action. It’s time to review your website security measures, identify any potential vulnerabilities, and fix them. Remember, when it comes to website security, prevention is always better than cure.
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