U.S. intelligence officials believe that the Chinese balloon shot down by the U.S., and now in the hands of the FBI, is an extensive military surveillance program which has conducted at least two dozen missions over at least five continents in recent years. Roughly half have been into U.S. airspace, including the downed “weather” balloon which also entered Canadian airspace after being detected by NORAD. The debris now is being analyzed by FBI engineers in an attempt to learn what kind of intelligence it could have collected as well as how future incursions can be tracked.
An RCAF CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft headed back to base in Atlantic Canada today after intelligence gathering flights over Haiti. The aircraft was retasked from a U.S.-led counter-narcotics mission and a Canadian Armed Forces official said the data collected over two days would be used by the government “to further assess the situation in Haiti,” which has requested military help in dealing with endemic gang violence.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today offered premiers $46.2 billion in new health care transfers over 10 years, which wen coupled with previous commitments, would amount to $196.1 billion. “This is significant,” he said after meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts, but it was significantly less than they have demanded to address a nationwide shortage of health care resources.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told a parliamentary committee February 6 that implementing a registry of foreign agents should be culturally sensitive. “There is a historical context when it comes to some communities within this country and their relationship with agencies and the law-enforcement community,” he said. “We need to be diligent and thoughtful and inclusive when it comes to bringing all Canadians along in the modernization of the tools and the arsenal that we create for our national security and intelligence communities.”
Two former Canadian diplomats in China say the lack of a registry of foreign agents in Canada facilitates meddling. David Mulroney, ambassador from 2009 to 2012, told a parliamentary committee that a key concern is foreign agents threatening expatriates’ families and meddling in Canadian politics. Charles Burton, who served twice as a political affairs counsellor in Beijing, added that the registry should be directed at the broad issue of interference, not just one country
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told a parliamentary committee February 6 that officers were deployed as a disruption at three Chinese “police stations” in Toronto and one in Vancouver. “We did a disruption by going in uniform, with marked police cars, to speak with the people involved,” she said. Meanwhile, the RCMP is continuing its investigation into what has been condemned as a global initiative by China against expatriates.
As the death toll from the weekend’s earthquakes and aftershocks in Turkey and Syria topped 6,200 today, the Canadian government has committed an initial $10 million to the international relief effort. International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said further aid and potential deployment of disaster response teams are being considered.
The federal government has committed $4.5 million over five years for research Fisheries & Oceans Minister Joyce Murray expects will give a clearer picture of how the marine ecosystem is changing and how to sustainably manage resources. Among other things, the project will study currents, marine safety and incident response, and how noise from shipping and other anthropogenic sources affects marine life.
The two crewmembers of a converted Boeing 737, one of six owned by Vancouver-Island Coulson Aviation, survived the February 6 crash of their waterbomber while fighting wildfires in western Australia. The aircraft was based in Sydney after Coulson waterbomber had been based in Sydney after the company recently signed a two-year contract from the Australian government
The European Union’s ban on imports of Russian refined oil products, notably diesel and jet fuel, went into effect February 5. The EU used to be the largest buyer of Russian products, amount to some €70 million daily and while EU industry has built up stocks of diesel in recent months, the long-term outlook is uncertain.
The Brazilian navy scuttled a decommissioned aircraft carrier, which it acquired from France in 2000, in a five-kilometres deep area of the Atlantic 350 kilometres off Brazil’s east coast February 3. The navy had said two days earlier that it had little choice despite a last-minute legal challenge because the ship was at risk of sinking.
At least 2,600 persons are reported dead and rescue efforts continue today after two earthquakes in an area of southeastern Turkey which borders on Syria. Turkish authorities have confirmed 1,651 victims while at least 968 are reported in Syria.