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Son of Russian spies relieved to keep Canadian citizenship – CBC.ca

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The son of a Russian spy couple who lived clandestine lives in Canada and the United States said Friday that he wants a future in Canada after the country’s Supreme Court ruled he can keep his Canadian citizenship.

Alexander Vavilov was born in Toronto, which would typically qualify him for Canadian citizenship. But authorities had ruled that Vavilov didn’t qualify because his parents were part of a Russian spy ring in North America that was broken up by the FBI in 2010.

The high court rejected that finding on Thursday, meaning Vavilov can reside permanently in the country where his parents once lived clandestine lives as deeply embedded spies who were the models for the TV show The Americans.

“It’s a huge relief,” Vavilov said at a news conference after flying to Toronto from Russia. “I am happy to be back in Canada, to be here without this constant doubt in my head, with the ability to finally put down roots and build a life for myself. It’s going to take time. But I’m happy I can move forward with my life and put these problems behind me.”

Vavilov, 25, said he works in finance but said it’s been difficult to find work. He said people trust him, but companies don’t want to be associated with his espionage story. “It’s been difficult, a lot of anguish and stress,” he said.

As he waits for the ruling on his citizenship, he’s been bouncing around countries in the Middle East and Asia. He said it’s “hard to say” where he now resides, though he flew in from Russia. He declined to comment on life in Russia under Vladimir Putin.

Who is entitled to citizenship?

The Canadian government argued he wasn’t entitled to citizenship and appealed to the Supreme Court to annul the passport granted to him by a lower court. The top court upheld that ruling.

Vavilov’s supporters said a son shouldn’t pay for the sins of his parents, while critics contend his claim to be a Canadian by birth was based on fraud since he and his parents lived under stolen identities in the Toronto area and later Massachusetts as they collected intelligence for Moscow.

He said he has mended his relationship with his parents. He said it’s OK now after initial difficulties after they were arrested.

“I understand their decisions now. They did what they did for patriotic reasons. They wanted to help their country to fight for peace and better understanding between the countries,” he said. “Although I suffered through the result of all this, but I have an understanding of why they did what they did. In their position maybe they shouldn’t have had children, but that’s not to say I’m not happy to be alive and be here.”

In the dark about his parents’ dealings

Canada, like the U.S., grants citizenship to anyone born within its territory with limited exceptions, such as the children of diplomats. The government argued that Vavilov’s parents were employees or representatives of a foreign government and thus ineligible. Vavilov’s lawyer argued that they were not official representatives and that all that matters in this case is their physical birthplace.

The parents came to Toronto in the 1980s and took the names Donald Heathfield and Tracey Ann Foley. They then gave birth to two sons — Timothy in 1990 and Alexander in 1994 — before moving to Paris in 1995 and then Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1999.

In 2010, the FBI arrested a ring of sleeper agents for Russia that it had been following for years in the United States. All 10, including the now well-known Anna Chapman, pleaded guilty and were returned to Russia in a swap. Vavilov had not been to Russia before.

Vavilov said he had no idea his parents were spies and that he was surprised and confused at their arrest. “I thought the FBI had the wrong house,” he said. “I did not believe it.”

The Vavilovs at Niagara Falls (Family handout)

The family’s story became the inspiration for The Americans. He said he and his parents have watched the show.

“My parents said they enjoyed watching it, because it at least portrayed the sense of patriotism and the sense of connection. It’s a good show,” he said.

The FBI agent who oversaw the arrests said in 2010 that Timothy Vavilov may have found out about his parents’ secret life before they were arrested.

Alex called it nonsense and said his parents would never have put them in jeopardy by telling them that. The brothers weren’t charged. “He’s over the moon,” he said of his brother.

Their lawyer said no evidence had ever surfaced suggesting the sons knew their parents were Russians or were spies.

Alexander Vavilov wanted to return to Canada for university but was denied. The government ruled Canada would no longer recognize him as Canadian because his parents were “employees or representatives of a foreign government.”

Criticism of the decision

After losing in a lower court, Vavilov won support from the Federal Court of Appeal, which ruled in 2017 that the law applies only to foreign government employees who benefit from diplomatic immunities or privileges. Vavilov was given his citizenship back.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said the citizenship registrar’s decision was unreasonable. Although the registrar knew her interpretation of the provision was novel, she failed to provide a proper rationale, the court said.

Although it involves the same central issue, Timothy Vavilov’s case proceeded separately through the courts and was not directly before the Supreme Court. However, in a decision last year, the Federal Court of Appeal said its 2017 ruling on Alexander Vavilov equally applied to his brother, making him a citizen.

Former FBI agent Richard DesLauriers, who oversaw the arrest of the couple, Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, and the other eight sleeper agents criticized the high court’s decision on Thursday. DesLauriers called it ridiculous.

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Now hiring: StatCan needs 32000 Canadians to administer 2021 census – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Statistics Canada plans to hire 32,000 employees across Canada to conduct the next census in May 2021.

StatCan said in a press release on Thursday that individuals will be hired in “both big and small communities” to collect “crucial data that will be used to plan for the future.”

The agency says positions available include supervisory and non-supervisory roles between March and July 2021.

“Over the past 100 years, through the census, Statistics Canada has captured an ever-evolving snapshot of the country and its people. Canadians have relied on census data to tell them about how the country is changing and about what matters to them,” Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada at Statistics Canada, said in the release.

Arora noted that the data from the “large-scale nation project” holds even more significance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we all work to respond to the social and economic impacts of COVID-19, it is more important than ever that we collectively pursue data-driven solutions that work for families, businesses and diverse communities from coast to coast to coast,” Arora said.

With COVID-19 in mind, Statistics Canada said the census process has been adapted to ensure Canadians have the opportunity to be heard “in the best and safest way possible.”

According to the release, census procedures have been redesigned to limit the amount of contact required to participate, with the majority of Canadians being able to complete the questionnaire through a “user-friendly” online application.

StatCan said it will provide all equipment required to keep census employees safe while on the job, and will have employees work close to home in their local communities.

The agency says census staff will “identify dwellings on maps, follow up with respondents by phone and conduct physically distanced in-person interviews, when required.”

According to the press release, census workers will be paid between $17.83 to $21.77 per hour, depending on position. In select northern and remote communities, StatCan says the rate of pay ranges from $29.25 to $31.25 an hour. In addition, all employees will be paid for authorized expenses.

The agency said applicants must be 18 years or older, eligible to work in Canada and able to commit to a “flexible work schedule,” including on evenings and weekends.

“As we prepare for the 2021 Census, we thank all Canadians who have trusted Statistics Canada to tell their unique stories and capture the diverse and changing portrait of our nation as it grows and evolves,” Arora said.

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Canada's top judge is now Governor General, but expert urges speedy replacement – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Julie Payette’s resignation amid allegations of workplace harassment means that the chief justice of the Supreme Court will now serve as interim Governor General, but a Crown expert says this temporary appointment should be as brief as possible as it presents potential conflicts.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accepted Payette’s resignation on Thursday following reports of a workplace harassment investigation that sources described to CTV News as “damaging.”

Chief Justice of Canada Richard Wagner will serve as Governor General on an interim basis until Trudeau recommends a new governor general to the Queen, something Trudeau says he will do “in due course.”

Philippe Lagasse, a Carleton University expert on the Westminster system and the Crown, described Payette’s resignation as “a bit sad, really,” and stressed the importance of limiting the amount of time Wagner stays in this role.

“I have to say, as somebody who is concerned about how offices appear in public, it’s really not ideal to have the chief justice of the Supreme Court act as an administrator for any long period of time,” Lagasse told CTV’s Power Play on Thursday.

The reason: the Governor General is in charge of turning bills into law through royal assent. Having an active Supreme Court judge in this role could be potentially problematic down the road, Lagasse said.

“We can think in our constitutional metaphysics that they’re wearing a different hat when they’re providing royal assent, you can imagine that it could create discomfort on the part of the judge who wants to be seem completely and utterly impartial if ever that legislation appears before them in a constitutional or legal challenge,” he said.

Asked about the timeline to replace Payette, intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said “obviously it’s not a question of months.”

“The constitutional role can be fulfilled as of tonight by Chief Justice Wagner and until a successor is sworn in,” LeBlanc told CTV’s Power Play.

“We obviously haven’t turned our attention to the details of how that successor would be recommended to Her Majesty, but we’ll have more to say about that in the coming days. But it’s not a circumstance that can go on for months and months.”

The Governor General holds the second-highest office in Canada after the Queen, with the role out-ranking even the prime minister. That’s because the Governor General can be called on to make decisions related to the formation of government, such as to prorogue Parliament or dissolve Parliament on the advice of a prime minister to trigger an election.

The Governor General also plays a key role in minority governments, as is the current case. If a minority government loses a confidence vote in the House of Commons, the prime minister would then have to request Parliament be dissolved. The Governor General then has the discretion whether to agree to that, and call an election, or allow another party in the House to attempt to form a government that would have the confidence of the House.

For example, in 2008, Stephen Harper asked then-Governor General Michaelle Jean to prorogue Parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote that he was expected to lose, which she allowed.

Everything considered, Lagasse said it’s in the country’s best interests to appoint a new Governor General pronto.

“To the extent possible, we should have a full-on governor general appointed as soon as possible, given the possibility of an election on the horizon,” he said.

“And ultimately, I would imagine the chief justice is not really keen on the idea of having to make some of these decisions and make some of the calls, particularly if another election returns another hung Parliament, and if there’s controversy around a dissolution of Parliament in the middle of a pandemic. These are all things that I imagine the chief justice doesn’t want to be particularly involved with either.”

CTV royal commentator Richard Berthelsen said that the Governor General plays a critical constitutional role in Canada as a representative of the Queen, but is also seen as a moral leader.

“So this really was a day that, in a lot of ways, had to happen. It’s sad that it has happened, but the report has left everyone with no alternative,” Berthelsen told CTV News Channel.

With files from CTV’s Rachel Aiello in Ottawa and The Canadian Press

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Canada’s top judge is now Governor General, but expert urges speedy replacement

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TORONTO —
Julie Payette’s resignation amid allegations of workplace harassment means that the chief justice of the Supreme Court will now serve as interim Governor General, but a Crown expert says this temporary appointment should be as brief as possible as it presents potential conflicts.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accepted Payette’s resignation on Thursday following reports of a workplace harassment investigation that sources described to CTV News as “damaging.”

Chief Justice of Canada Richard Wagner will serve as Governor General on an interim basis until Trudeau recommends a new governor general to the Queen, something Trudeau says he will do “in due course.”

Philippe Lagasse, a Carleton University expert on the Westminster system and the Crown, described Payette’s resignation as “a bit sad, really,” and stressed the importance of limiting the amount of time Wagner stays in this role.

“I have to say, as somebody who is concerned about how offices appear in public, it’s really not ideal to have the chief justice of the Supreme Court act as an administrator for any long period of time,” Lagasse told CTV’s Power Play on Thursday.

The reason: the Governor General is in charge of turning bills into law through royal assent. Having an active Supreme Court judge in this role could be potentially problematic down the road, Lagasse said.

“We can think in our constitutional metaphysics that they’re wearing a different hat when they’re providing royal assent, you can imagine that it could create discomfort on the part of the judge who wants to be seem completely and utterly impartial if ever that legislation appears before them in a constitutional or legal challenge,” he said.

Asked about the timeline to replace Payette, intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said “obviously it’s not a question of months.”

“The constitutional role can be fulfilled as of tonight by Chief Justice Wagner and until a successor is sworn in,” LeBlanc told CTV’s Power Play.

“We obviously haven’t turned our attention to the details of how that successor would be recommended to Her Majesty, but we’ll have more to say about that in the coming days. But it’s not a circumstance that can go on for months and months.”

The Governor General holds the second-highest office in Canada after the Queen, with the role out-ranking even the prime minister. That’s because the Governor General can be called on to make decisions related to the formation of government, such as to prorogue Parliament or dissolve Parliament on the advice of a prime minister to trigger an election.

The Governor General also plays a key role in minority governments, as is the current case. If a minority government loses a confidence vote in the House of Commons, the prime minister would then have to request Parliament be dissolved. The Governor General then has the discretion whether to agree to that, and call an election, or allow another party in the House to attempt to form a government that would have the confidence of the House.

For example, in 2008, Stephen Harper asked then-Governor General Michaelle Jean to prorogue Parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote that he was expected to lose, which she allowed.

Everything considered, Lagasse said it’s in the country’s best interests to appoint a new Governor General pronto.

“To the extent possible, we should have a full-on governor general appointed as soon as possible, given the possibility of an election on the horizon,” he said.

“And ultimately, I would imagine the chief justice is not really keen on the idea of having to make some of these decisions and make some of the calls, particularly if another election returns another hung Parliament, and if there’s controversy around a dissolution of Parliament in the middle of a pandemic. These are all things that I imagine the chief justice doesn’t want to be particularly involved with either.”

CTV royal commentator Richard Berthelsen said that the Governor General plays a critical constitutional role in Canada as a representative of the Queen, but is also seen as a moral leader.

“So this really was a day that, in a lot of ways, had to happen. It’s sad that it has happened, but the report has left everyone with no alternative,” Berthelsen told CTV News Channel.

With files from CTV’s Rachel Aiello in Ottawa and The Canadian Press

Source: – CTV News

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