Trudeau government leaks support in wake of SNC-Lavalin, Wilson-Raybould matter: Ipsos poll – National

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The Trudeau government is leaking political support in the wake of the resignation of its former justice minister, making its chances of re-election this fall far less certain than they seemed to be at year’s end, according to a new poll provided exclusively to Global News.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s personal approval ratings are down; a declining number of Canadians think his government deserves re-election; and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives narrowly lead the Liberals on the ballot box question.

“This is the worst couple of weeks the PM has had since the India trip,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of polling firm Ipsos. “The biggest problem is that it hits at what gives the Liberal Party its appeal: the prime minister.”


READ MORE:
Charges against SNC-Lavalin explained — and how the PMO allegedly got involved

Ipsos was in the field last week, after revelations surfaced that, last fall, while she was justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould felt that unnamed individuals in the prime minister’s office were pressuring her to intervene in a criminal court case in favour of Quebec-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin. Those allegations were first reported by the Globe and Mail, citing unnamed sources.

If she did feel pressured, she did not act and did not intervene on behalf of SNC-Lavalin. But a few months later, she was shuffled out of her job as justice minister and attorney general and into the job of veterans affairs minister.

Then, last week, as Liberals themselves seemed divided over the optics of seeing the country’s first-ever Indigenous justice minister being shuffled aside for what appeared to be craven political calculations, Wilson-Raybould stepped down from cabinet altogether.

WATCH: Jody Wilson-Raybould quits Trudeau cabinet






Meanwhile, all through the week, Trudeau and other Liberals struggled to explain what had happened while Wilson-Raybould announced she had retained a former Supreme Court justice to provide her with advice about what, if anything, she might say about the whole matter.

Voters took notice.

Ipsos found that, among the 1,002 Canadians it surveyed online from Thursday through to Monday, nearly half or 49 per cent said they were aware of this rapidly shifting story involving SNC Lavalin, Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould.

And it appears many are changing their opinion of the government as a result.


READ MORE:
Justin Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts resigns amid SNC-Lavalin affair

Support for the Trudeau Liberals is now at 34 per cent, down four percentage points, from a poll Ipsos did in December. In the 2015 election, the Trudeau Liberals won their commanding majority with 39 per cent of the vote.

Scheer’s Conservatives appear to have benefited from this slide. That party is now at 36 per cent support, up three points since the end of 2018.

“The big trouble spot is now Ontario, where the Tories have a six point lead over the Liberals,” said Bricker. “The way the vote breaks in Ontario suggests that the Tories are doing well in the 905, where the Liberals won their majority in 2015.”

The NDP and its leader Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile, continue to languish, with 17 per cent support right now versus 18 per cent at year-end.

The poll was out of the field before Monday afternoon’s bombshell news that Gerald Butts had quit his post as the prime minister’s principal secretary. Butts, one of Trudeau’s closest friends, had played a critical role in the revival of Liberal fortune and was, along with Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford, central to Trudeau administration. Butts said he had done nothing wrong but was resigning to avoid being a further distraction to the government’s agenda.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts resigns amid SNC-Lavalin controversy







In any event, Ipsos found that even before that additional turmoil, voter approval of the Trudeau government had dropped nine points since the beginning of the year down to 42 per cent in its most recent pulse-taking.

Trudeau’s own personal approval rating is now two points lower than it was after his disastrous trip to India this time last year.

“Those who strongly disapprove of his performance now outnumber those who strongly approve by a margin of four to one,” Bricker said.


READ MORE:
Halifax artist apologizes for controversial cartoon of Jody Wilson-Raybould

And yet, Trudeau is still doing better than his two main rivals, Scheer and Singh, who continue to have lower approval ratings than Trudeau.

“All is not bad for Trudeau,” Bricker said. “When assessed head to head with his major rivals, Scheer and Singh, he still does well on specific leadership attributes. Although the gap appears to be closing now.”

And just 38 per cent of those surveyed believe the Trudeau Liberals deserve re-election, while 62 per cent agreed that it was time to give another party a chance at governing.

A margin-of-error could not be calculated for this poll as the sample surveyed was not drawn randomly. That said, Ipsos says the accuracy of its polls can be gauged using a statistical measure known as a credibility interval. Applying this technique to this poll, Ipsos believes this poll would be accurate to within 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, compared to a poll of all Canadian adults

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Feb. 14 and Feb. 18, with a sample of 1,002 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Convoy of hundreds of trucks nears Ottawa to protest federal oil policies – National

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Hundreds of trucks are expected to roll into Ottawa Tuesday to protest the federal government’s policies on the oil industry.

The main portion of the United We Roll Convoy set out from Red Deer, Alta., last Thursday and made stops in Regina, Dryden, Thunder Bay, and Sault Ste. Marie before mustering at Arnprior, Ont., just outside the capital.

WATCH: Truck convoy rolls through Calgary on the way to Ottawa






The rally is expected to occupy almost a kilometre of Wellington Street, in front of Parliament.

Lead organizer Glen Carritt says the display is about showing support for new oil pipelines and opposition to the federal carbon tax and new rules on oil transportation.

The convoy includes members of the Yellow Vest Movement, whose demonstrations across the country have had widely varying agendas, from supporting pipelines to denouncing a United Nations compact on global migration.

WATCH: Alberta’s plan to ship oil by rail backfires






Demonstrators from eastern Canada are also expected to link up with the convoy.

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‘Zombie deer disease’ has spread to 2 provinces and 24 states – National

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An infectious disease often referred to as “zombie deer disease” has shown up in two Canadian provinces and at least 24 states, the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned, with a potential risk it could spread to humans.


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Symptoms of chronic wasting disease (CWD) for animals include stumbling, lack of coordination, drooling, drooping ears, aggression, listlessness, drastic weight loss, excessive thirst or urination, and lack of fear of people.

The disease belongs to a family of diseases called prion diseases, which includes the human form of “mad cow disease.”

CWD was first identified in the late 1960s in Colorado and has spread since 2000.

WATCH: Mad cow disease case confirmed in northern Alberta







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There have been no reported cases of the disease in people, but studies have shown that CWD can pose a risk to non-human primates, such as monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with their body fluids, according to CDC.

CDC says experimental studies “raise the concern that CWD may pose a risk to people and suggest that it is important to prevent human exposures to CWD.”

The disease generally transmits between animals through body fluids and has been found to be contagious within deer and elk populations.


READ MORE:
What is mad cow disease? Quick facts about BSE

If it were spread to people, it would most likely be through eating infected deer or elk, but CDC says it is not known if people can get infected with CWD.

Currently, the disease occurs in free-range deer and elk at relatively low rates, but in areas where it is established the infection rate may exceed 10 per cent and localized infection rates of more than 25 per cent have been reported, according to CDC.

Infection rates in captive deer have been higher, with a rate of 79 per cent reported from at least one captive herd.

CDC recommends hunters test animals for CWD before eating them in areas where the disease is known to be present, and to not shoot or handle meat from deer that look strange or are acting strangely.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada will reinforce a ‘rules-based international order,’ Freeland says – National

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Canada will continue to meet with like-minded nations as it aims to bridge divides between countries at a time of simmering international tensions, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said from Germany on Saturday.


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Freeland says she pushed for end to steel, aluminum tariffs in meeting with Nancy Pelosi

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The approach is necessary as Canada strives to reinforce the “rules-based international order,” Freeland said in a conference call with reporters as she wrapped up her time at the Munich Security Conference.

“We also think we need to … bring together specific coalitions around specific issues,” she said, listing the Lima Group – which helped empower Venezuela’s opposition in its fight against President Nicolas Maduro – as an example of Canada doing just that.

The group helped identify the politician Canada and its allies recognize as Venezuela’s real leader, Juan Guaido, as a contender to bring down Maduro’s regime.

WATCH: Freeland says coalition against ISIS is ‘succeeding’ but fight is not over






“There is now a very long list of countries who have recognized Juan Guaido as interim president,” she said. “That is a sign that the international community is coming together around democracy in Venezuela.”

But she added that Canada is not – and should not be – leading the fight against Maduro.

“This is a process led by the people of Venezuela,” she said. “They are the ones who need to win this effort. Our job as the international community is to support them, and that is very much what we’re doing.”


READ MORE:
China slams Freeland’s detention comment, says she ‘can’t help speaking without thinking’ 

She said that beyond seeking out like-minded countries, Canada will continue to name and shame those involved in human rights abuses, listing the country’s involvement in protesting the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as an example of such an approach.

The federal government has appointed former Liberal MP Bob Rae as Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar and pledged $300 million over the next three years to combat the crisis there. Last September, Parliament voted unanimously to strip Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, of her honorary Canadian citizenship for failing to stop the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people.

Freeland’s public push for a rules-following international order also comes in the midst of an ongoing dispute between Canada and China, following what she called the superpower’s “arbitrary” detention of two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

WATCH: Freeland says Canada, Lima Group calling on Venezuela military to recognize Guaido






Freeland said the detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig was central to her discussion with Rob Malley, president of the International Crisis Group, and is yet another example of nations rallying together.

“The ICG has been a very important partner in working to build international support,” she said.

Numerous countries – including Germany, France, the Netherlands, the U.K., Australia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia – have spoken against the men’s detention. Earlier this week in Munich, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said the American response had not been strong enough.

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Are shadowy agents targeting Canadians who criticize an Israeli spyware firm? – National

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John Scott-Railton rushed into the Peninsula Hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York City, behind schedule, half-soaked from a rainstorm and out of breath. He hurried through the lobby to the hotel’s five-star restaurant, the Clement, praying that the microphone hidden under his tie was still working, and that his lunch date hadn’t bailed.

He felt like a mess as he moved through the swanky hotel. He worried his whole plan was about to fall apart because of a bit of traffic on the way over.

Scott-Railton was set to meet with Michel Lambert, a wealthy entrepreneur who promised him a lucrative business opportunity — one that paid far better than his spyware-hunting job at Citizen Lab in Toronto.

But he says he knew the man he ultimately sat down with for dinner that afternoon was not a businessman named Michel Lambert. According to Scott-Railton, he was an ex-spy from Israel operating under a false name.

A man who identified himself as Michel Lambert reacts during an interview at a restaurant in New York on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.

AP Photo/Joseph Frederick

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Scott-Railton says he agreed to meet the man he says was a covert operative because he wanted to “turn the tables” on a shadowy operation that had targeted his Citizen Lab colleague, Bahar Abdul Razzak, a few months earlier. A supposed entrepreneur had lured Razzak to a meeting in Toronto, then grilled him about his research into NSO Group, an Israeli tech firm with software that can hack any smartphone via text message, according to Scott-Railton.


READ MORE:
Undercover spies caught fishing for anti-Israel remarks following Canadian sting

Citizen Lab has been tracking NSO Group’s phone-cracking software for years, and its research forms the basis of three major lawsuits. The plaintiffs allege that NSO’s software was used to hack their phones and spy on them because they were critical of governments in Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“Lambert” asked Scott-Railton several questions about NSO over lunch. He also posed leading questions about potential anti-Israel bias or outside funding at Citizen Lab, an independent research facility at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, poses for a photo in New York City on Jan. 17, 2019.

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

However, the man had little to say once Scott-Railton invited a hidden Associated Press reporter over to the table.

“I don’t have to speak with you,” said the man, whom the New York Times and Israel’s Channel 12 later identified as former Israeli security official Aharon Almog-Assouline. Almog-Assouline stormed out of the restaurant and refused to answer questions from the AP reporter.

The sting has shed light on an alleged wider plot targeting at least six critics of NSO, an Israeli cybersecurity firm that helps law enforcement access suspects’ smartphones. Three lawsuits accuse NSO of selling its phone-cracking program, Pegasus, to governments that allegedly used it to monitor journalists and activists. The lawsuits call for NSO to stop selling Pegasus to some of its most lucrative government clients, many of whom pay tens of millions of dollars for its services.

Global News has reached out to NSO Group for comment on Citizen Lab’s reports, the lawsuits against it and the alleged attempts by anonymous individuals to contact people linked to those lawsuits. NSO has not responded. However, it has previously refuted the Citizen Lab reports, rejected the claims in the lawsuits and denied any connection to those asking about the lawsuits.

Citizen Lab

Citizen Lab, which operates out of the University of Toronto, does independent research into human rights abuses online, such as government surveillance and censorship.

“Our work exposing these abuses is clearly making some people uncomfortable, and we are being targeted with underhanded, unethical tactics,” Scott-Railton told Global News.

“To us, this is a signal that we are doing something right, and why academic work is so important.”

Scott-Railton and his colleagues at U of T’s Citizen Lab have been monitoring NSO since 2016.

Citizen Lab has published over a dozen reports documenting alleged abuse of NSO’s software, Pegasus, based on digital forensics. They say NSO has been reckless with its choice of clients, by selling to governments with a history of human rights abuses.


READ MORE:
Toronto-based Citizen Lab, which exposed Israeli spy software, targeted by undercover agents

Citizen Lab alleges that NSO’s Pegasus software has been used for political purposes in several countries, including Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Overall, Citizen Lab estimates that 36 operators have used Pegasus on targets in 45 different nations, including the United States and Canada. It says six operators were linked to countries with a “history of abusing spyware to target civil society.”

NSO Group has repeatedly denied all allegations stemming from Citizen Lab’s research, and insists that its technology is only used for law enforcement purposes. The company has disputed Citizen Lab’s list of countries where it operates, and claims that the product “will not operate outside of approved countries.”

Shady operators

A recent AP investigation found that at least six individuals linked to NSO lawsuits, including Citizen Lab’s Razzak and Scott-Railton, have been targeted by undercover operatives seeking information about the cases. These shady figures invited their targets to swanky dinners to discuss lucrative job offers, then questioned them about NSO, according to the AP.

Two people targeted by undercover operatives were secretly recorded and the footage later broadcast on Israeli television, the AP reports.

“There’s somebody who’s really interested in sabotaging the case,” Mazen Masri, who is one of the alleged targets, told the Associated Press. Masri teaches at City University in London, and is advising the plaintiff’s attorney in one of the NSO lawsuits. He suggested the man was “looking for dirt and relevant information about people involved.”

WATCH BELOW: Up to 500-million Marriott customers’ data accessed in cyberattack






Citizen Lab condemned the alleged operations against Razzak and Scott-Railton in a statement last month, after Scott-Railton met with the suspected spy.

“This failed operation against two Citizen Lab researchers is a new low,” Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert wrote on Jan. 25. “We have always welcomed debate and dialogue about our work, but we condemn these sinister, underhanded activities in the strongest possible terms.”

Deibert added that he has “no evidence” that NSO Group itself is responsible for the incidents.

How NSO’s phone-hacking Pegasus spyware works

Pegasus is an extremely powerful spyware program that installs itself on a phone after the target is tricked into clicking a text-message link. It’s designed to let police covertly examine everything on a target’s phone, according to an in-depth technical analysis of the program by Lookout, a California-based cybersecurity company. The analysis was conducted in partnership with Citizen Lab.

Pegasus effectively turns the target’s phone into an open book. The spyware operator can access anything connected to the phone, and can even switch on its microphones and cameras to turn it into a remote surveillance device. The only way to avoid infection is to avoid clicking on text-message links.

This diagram shows all the systems an operator can access by infecting someone’s phone with Pegasus spyware.

Citizen Lab

“The Pegasus software is highly configurable,” the Lookout report says. “Depending on the country of use and feature sets purchased by the user of the spyware, the surveillance capabilities include remotely accessing text messages, iMessages, calls, emails, logs, and more from apps including Gmail, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Facetime, Calendar, Line, Mail.Ru, WeChat, Surespot, Tango, Telegram, and others.”

Citizen Lab and Lookout worked with Apple in 2016 to help it fix an iOS vulnerability that Pegasus appeared to exploit. Citizen Lab says it discovered Pegasus exploiting the vulnerability on a phone belonging to Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates. NSO continued to sell the product to the UAE government long after Apple said it fixed the patch, the New York Times reports.


READ MORE:
iPhone security update prompted by spyware discovery

NSO Group says the tool has helped foil terror plots in Europe, allegedly contributed to the capture of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and led to the arrest of many dangerous criminals and child sex traffickers.

NSO Group has not publicly revealed the names of its current clients. However, its software is not unique. Several companies, including Italy’s Hacking Team and Germany’s FinFisher, have developed technology to help law enforcement crack suspects’ phones.

Many countries, including Canada, have legal provisions that allow for “lawful interception” of certain communications in serious criminal cases. Canadian police need a warrant or a judge’s authorization to use such extreme measures, according to the Department of Justice.

WATCH BELOW: What to do if your email gets hacked






However, Citizen Lab says the Pegasus software has been deployed against unwarranted political targets, such as journalists and activists.

Amnesty International has also accused NSO Group of releasing its technology to an entity that targeted one of Amnesty’s staffers. The human rights group has called for Israel to revoke NSO Group’s export licence, which would effectively kill all of its contracts with foreign governments.

What is NSO Group?

NSO Group is an Israeli cybersecurity firm that specializes in hacking smartphones. Its headquarters are in Luxembourg and its offices are in Herzelia, near Tel Aviv in Israel. The company has between 500 and 1,000 employees, according to its LinkedIn page.

The group claims on its website that its technology is used “exclusively by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight crime and terror.”

NSO Group’s co-founders, Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavie, re-acquired a majority ownership stake in the company on Thursday, in a deal that reportedly valued the company at US$1 billion. Francisco Partners, a U.S.-based private equity firm that previously owned 70 per cent of the company, announced the sale in a news release.

NSO Group sells licences to its software through an export licence approved by the Israeli government. It has dozens of licensed customers and earned $250 million in revenue last year, Francisco Partners said.

Hulio and Lavie founded NSO Group in 2010 and have been with the company ever since, serving as its CEO and director, respectively.

WATCH BELOW: Canadian cybersecurity officials outline plans to protect 2019 election






NSO Group has denied all allegations that suggest its software has been used improperly. It insists its product is meant to be used exclusively to prevent crime and terrorism.

“Any use of our technology that is counter to that purpose is a violation of our policies, legal contracts, and the values that we stand for as a company,” NSO Group said in a written statement to Amnesty International last August. The statement was issued after Amnesty claimed one of its members was spied on using NSO software.

NSO Group has signed several lucrative contracts with foreign governments, including multi-million-dollar deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to reports in the New York Times and Haaretz, an Israeli daily newspaper.

Khashoggi friend allegedly hacked

One of the three lawsuits against NSO was filed in Israel on behalf of Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, a permanent resident of Canada living near Montreal. Abdulaziz alleges that Pegasus software was used to monitor his conversations with Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, shortly before Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

WATCH BELOW: Omar Abdulaziz says he was targeted by Saudi Arabia






Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor-turned whistleblower, has also suggested that Abdulaziz’s hacked phone may have contributed to the death of Khashoggi, citing an analysis by Citizen Lab.

“The reality is that they bugged one of his few friends and contacts using software created by an Israeli company,” Snowden told an audience in Tel Aviv via video link last November.

Citizen Lab published a report about Abdulaziz’s hacked phone on Oct. 1, one day before Khashoggi was killed. The Citizen Lab researchers concluded with “high confidence” that the breach was caused by NSO’s Pegasus spyware.


READ MORE:
Saudi Arabia used controversial spyware to monitor Canada-based political refugee: report

NSO Group disputed some details in Abdulaziz’s lawsuit in a written statement to the Times of Israel in December. The company said the lawsuit “appears to be based on a collection of press clippings that have been generated for the sole purpose of creating news headlines and do not reflect the reality of NSO’s work.”

NSO Group CEO Shulev Hulio says the company looked into the allegations and concluded that its software was not involved in Khashoggi’s murder.


READ MORE:
Jamal Khashoggi’s friend sues Israeli surveillance company, saying it helped track journalist

“Khashoggi was not targeted by any NSO product or technology, including listening, monitoring, location tracking and intelligence collection,” he told Yedioth Ahronoth, a Hebrew-language daily, in an interview last month. The interview was translated by Yedioth Ahronoth’s English-language sister site, Ynetnews.

He added that the company immediately sanctions any customer that is found to be using its software for anything other than saving lives and thwarting crime or terrorism.

WATCH BELOW: What we know about Khashoggi’s murder






NSO has also denied any connection to the individuals who contacted Abdulaziz’s lawyers or Scott-Railton and Razzak at Citizen Lab.

Scott-Railton says the whole situation is shining some much-needed light on the highly secretive and extremely lucrative business of military-grade spyware.

“The problem is, this industry operates in the shadows, and not everything that happens there is just about catching bad guys,” he said.

“Sending private spies to go after academics is a tactic you might use if you have something to hide.”

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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U.S. response to detained Canadians in China not strong enough: Sen. Lindsey Graham – National

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U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday the response by the United States to China detaining two Canadians in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive has not been strong enough.


READ MORE:
Chinese ambassador threatens ‘repercussions’ on Canada if Huawei 5G banned

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Graham also told Munich Security Conference delegates the international reaction to China’s arrest of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor hasn’t been enough to persuade China that its apparent use of hostage diplomacy won’t be tolerated.

“The president has been tough on China but this is one area where I think we need to make a more definitive statement, because the two people arrested in China had nothing to do with the rule of law. It was just grabbing two Canadians,” Graham said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who appeared on the panel with Graham, mouthed the words “thank you” to Graham after he said it. Roland Paris, one of the delegates and a former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked Graham about it.

WATCH: Pompeo says U.S. might scale back operations with countries that are doing business with Huawei






U.S. ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft said last Saturday her country is “deeply concerned” about China’s “unlawful” detention of the two Canadians in what was her first public comments on the cases since China detained them on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities.

Meng is the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and the daughter of its founder. The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

China also re-sentenced a convicted Canadian drug smuggler, Robert Schellenberg, to death after the Meng arrest as part of an apparent campaign of intimidation and retribution against Canada.


READ MORE:
Analysis: China pulling out all the stops to force Canada to back down

Some analysts have said the U.S. response to China’s arrests of the two Canadians has been muted. U.S. President Donald Trump himself has not commented on the Canadians. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has, saying China ought to release them. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders and the State Department have issued brief statements of support.

Beijing threatened grave consequences for America’s neighbour and longtime ally after Meng was arrested at Vancouver’s airport.

Canada has embarked on a campaign with allies to win the release of Kovrig and Spavor, and many countries have issued statements in support.

WATCH: Trudeau says China trying to interfere with Canada’s judiciary by asking for release of Huawei CFO






“These are human beings and they only thing they did was be Canadian in China,” Freeland said. Freeland said she would be grateful if more countries spoke out.

“We will all be stronger and safer if we all can do that for each other,” she said. “We can’t descend to a might-makes-right world and that’s especially essentially for middle powers.”

The two Canadians were detained on vague allegations of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security” of China. They remain locked up without access to lawyers.

Meng is out on bail in Canada and awaiting extradition proceedings.

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Trump announces ‘national emergency’ in bizarre White House appearance

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WASHINGTON—He boasted that he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, then complained that he wouldn’t win.

He said he doesn’t know far-right pundit Ann Coulter, then said he “hardly” knows her, then said he used to talk to her, then said she’d be very nice to talk to.

He contradicted his chief trade negotiator on negotiations with China. He promoted North Korea as an ideal location for economic development. He uttered a series of lies and misleading statements about immigration, saying it was everyone else who was lying.

And he said he didn’t actually need to declare the national emergency he was speaking in the Rose Garden to declare.

In a rambling, defensive and thoroughly bizarre appearance on the White House grounds on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump made an unfocused stream-of-consciousness case for his immigration emergency while also musing at length about a variety of related and unrelated topics.

In arguably the strangest moment of the morning, he appeared to undermine his case that an emergency is necessary.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster,” he said. He repeated: “I just want to get it done faster.”

Democrats immediately seized on Trump’s remarks.

“Mr. President, how can this possibly be an national emergency if you’re saying you don’t need to do it? Unreal,” Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter.

Trump also signed into law on Friday a spending deal reached by Democrats and Republicans to fund security initiatives on the Mexican border. Trump was dissatisfied with the deal because it included less than $1.5 billion for about 55 miles of border barriers, much less than the $5.7 billion and 234 miles he had demanded for the giant wall he had repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for.

Trump is seeking to use the emergency declaration to seize money Congress had allocated to other areas of government and use it for the wall. The New York Times reported Friday that his team is looking at taking $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction, $2.5 billion from anti-drug projects and $600 million from an asset forfeiture fund.

Though presidents have broad authority to declare emergencies, there has never been an emergency declared so a president could pay for his controversial initiative with money not approved by Congress for that purpose.

Democrats and some Republicans have called Trump’s plan an unconstitutional abuse of power. Trump suggested there was a double standard for him, saying that “nobody cares” when other presidents declare emergencies.

And he dismissed concerns about his plan to grab money that had been allocated to the military.

“Some of the generals think that this is more important. I was speaking to a couple of ’em, they think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for,” he said, not naming them. “I said, ‘What were you going to use it for?’ I won’t go into details, but didn’t sound too important to me.”

Trump said it would be easy to win the court challenge that is almost certain to be filed, since he is declaring the emergency over a “virtual invasion” of drugs, gangs and human traffickers.

But he also said he thought he might well lose in the initial case, then again on appeal. Speaking in a singsong voice as he offered a series of unusual predictions about the next steps in the case, he said it was only at the Supreme Court where he hoped to get a “fair shake.”

The state of California and independent organizations have said they plan to sue.

“President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power. This ‘emergency’ is a national disgrace — and the blame lays solely at the feet of the president. Our message to the White House is simple: CA will see you in court,” Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter.

As at previous immigration speeches, Trump invited the mothers of people killed by unauthorized immigrants, known as “angel moms,” to attend this one. When he was asked to respond to critics who say he is manufacturing this supposed crisis, he turned to the women and said, “What do you think? You think I’m creating something? Ask these incredible women.”

Trump was similarly dismissive of immigration-related data.

Rejecting his own government’s conclusion that most drugs that come in through Mexico are smuggled through legal ports of entry rather than unwalled desert, he declared that this was “all a lie.”

Rejecting official data that shows the number of apprehensions at the southwest border is less than a third what it was two decades ago, Trump said, “We have far more people trying to get into our country today than probably we have ever had before.”

Rejecting studies that show illegal immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native citizens, Trump said, “You don’t really believe that stat, do you? Do you really believe that stat?”

And rejecting human trafficking experts who have said that a large percentage of victims come through legal ports of entry, Trump said that this is impossible, since border officers would notice “three women with tape on their mouth.” Experts say victims are usually tricked or coerced into crossing, not physically restrained.

Trump himself was critical of Democratic predecessor Barack Obama for bypassing Congress with unilateral action on immigration, tweeting in 2014: “Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.”

Asked about this on Friday, Trump said the current situation is different — because he is taking unilateral action after making an inadequate deal with Congress, not after making no deal.

“I went through Congress, I made a deal. I got almost $1.4 billion when I wasn’t supposed to get $1 — not $1. ‘He’s not going to get $1,’ he said, not saying who he was quoting. “Well, I got $1.4 billion. But I’m not happy with it.”

Daniel Dale is the Star’s Washington bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @ddale8

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Justin Trudeau condemns ‘sexist, racist’ comments about Jody Wilson-Raybould’s character – National

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned statements in “the strongest possible terms” about outgoing-Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould made by his own party.

In a Canadian Press story published Saturday on various websites including Global News, anonymous sources only described as Liberal insiders described Wilson-Raybould as difficult to get along with, “in it for herself” and suggested she leaked the story about SNC-Lavalin herself.

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READ THE ARTICLE IN QUESTION: Jody Wilson-Raybould became thorn in Liberals’ side before SNC-Lavalin case

The article came after a bombshell report from the Globe and Mail which alleged the Prime Minister’s Office pressured Wilson-Raybould to interfere in the court case involving Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

Trudeau has admitted he spoke to Wilson-Raybould about the case but denied allegations of political pressure, saying the “allegations in the Globe story [Thursday] morning are false. Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me, or anyone in my office, to take any decision in this matter.”

Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet.

WATCH: The impact of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation






The comments were widely condemned as sexist and racist by Indigenous community leaders as well as Wilson-Raybould’s fellow MPs. [we should include a couple examples] 

Asked Friday, PMO press secretary Matt Baccuzio called the comments unacceptable.

“The comments made about Jody Wilson-Raybould are simply unacceptable, and have no place in our political discourse,” he wrote in an email to Global News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed the sentiment at a press conference Friday morning.

“There have been many comments published in the media in various reports, about the former attorney general, about Jody Wilson-Raybould, that are absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

“The sexist comments, the racist comments that have been made by anonymous sources are unacceptable and I condemn them in the strongest possible terms.

“That is not what we need to be engaged in, in public discourse in Canada.”

WATCH: Jody Wilson-Raybould’s father speaks out on SNC-Lavalin controversy






Liberal insiders also told The Canadian Press that Wilson-Raybould was changed to Veterans Affairs minister – which was largely seen as a demotion – because she had become a thorn in the side of the Liberal cabinet.

Trudeau denied that allegation on Friday.

“If Scott Brison had not stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs described the comments as “innuendo,” and said in a statement they were “cowardly, low blows aimed at discrediting the staunch work ethic Minister Wilson-Raybould has maintained.”

READ MORE: Trudeau urged to condemn ‘racist and sexist’ attacks on Jody Wilson-Raybould amid SNC-Lavalin affair

“They perpetuate colonial-era, sexist stereotypes that Indigenous women cannot be powerful, forthright and steadfast in positions of power, but rather confrontational, meddling and egotistic. These comments from your staff must be recognized for what they are — blatant sexism.”

Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes defended Wilson-Raybould saying, “When women speak up and out, they are always going to be labelled.”

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel called the comments a “character assassination.”

NDP and Conservatives have asked the House of Commons’ justice committee to look into the allegation that Wilson-Raybould was pressured on an ongoing court case.

The ethics commissioner has also opened an investigation into the matter.


READ MORE:
Trudeau’s cabinet faces 5th ethics investigation — here’s how Stephen Harper’s office compared

*With files from Amanda Connolly

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Most Canadians trust media, but a similar share worry about fake news being weaponized: survey – National

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Nearly three-quarters of Canadians profess trust traditional media, but the same share admitted to be worried about false information, and fake news being weaponized, said a poll released by a global communications firm on Thursday.

The Edelman Trust Barometer found 71 per cent of Canadians saying they’re increasingly concerned about fake news, with the share of worried respondents having climbed six points from last year.

Some of this anxiety may come from a lack of understanding about what “fake news” really is, Edelman CEO Lisa Kimmel told Global News.

WATCH: Edelman Trust Barometer






“What it’s now evolved to, that term, is if people don’t like coverage by the media, then it’s coined as fake news. The president of the U.S., who anytime there’s negative coverage around him, just terms it and deems it fake news,” she said.

This share is on par with the rest of the world, as 73 per cent of respondents in the 27 countries surveyed by Edelman reported their concerns about the weaponization of “fake news.”

Anxiety about the future may be driving an increase in news engagement among Canadians.

WATCH: Trump says public ‘loves’ border patrol, but ‘fake news’ does not







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The share of Canadians who claimed to consume news every day was 42 per cent, up 11 points from 2018.

Meanwhile, the share of people who have disengaged from the news has fallen from 54 per cent to 33 per cent.

Traditional media may be seeing an uptick in trust — but the opposite is true of social media.

In every market surveyed — Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific, Middle East and African regions — social media was considered the least reliable source of information.

In the U.S. and Canada, social media commanded the trust of only 34 per cent of respondents.


READ MORE:
Who do Canadians trust most? Their employers, apparently

“It’s not surprising, given the fact that fake news has been disseminated over social media, that social media is now the least trusted source for general news and information,” Kimmel explained.

However, it’s important to note that while trust in media rose in Edelman’s latest report, media organizations remained the least-trusted institutions among those polled in the survey.

In Canada, approximately 61 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women indicated that they trusted their media.

That was higher than the average of all 27 countries that were surveyed — there, 50 per cent of men reported trust in media, compared to 45 per cent of women.

See the full results of the poll here. 


METHODOLOGY

Edelman conducted an online survey of over 33,000 people in 27 countries. 

The margin of error was considered three ways.

There was a “27-market global data margin of error” which showed a margin of 0.6 per cent among the general population, 1.3 per cent among respondents considered the “informed public” and of  0.8 per cent among a “global general online population.”

There was also a “market-specific data margin of error” of 2.9 per cent among the general population and 6.9 per cent among the informed public.

Finally, there was an “employee margin of error” of 0.8 per cent across 27 markets, and an additional “market-specific” margin of error of anywhere between 3.2 and 4.6 per cent.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Modern day slavery’: Why human trafficking often flies under the radar in Canada – National

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Forty-three victims of human trafficking were freed this month by police in Ontario.

The victims, mostly men from Mexico aged between 20 and 46, were rescued by officials following a lengthy investigation by Barrie Police and the Ontario Provincial Police.

The workers were allegedly made to live in squalid conditions in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, and were forced to work for a cleaning company.

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READ MORE: 43 victims of labour human trafficking freed following investigation in Barrie, Wasaga Beach

OPP deputy commissioner Rick Barnum spoke about the case at a press conference Monday, describing the situation as modern day slavery.

“The commodity being bought and sold is people. Human trafficking is modern day slavery,” Barnum said.

“Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation and harbouring of persons for the purposes of exploitation, typically in the sex industry, or in this case forced labour. Exploitation is the key element of this offence.”

WATCH: Dozens of Mexican workers freed after labour human trafficking






Barnum explained human-trafficking victims are often from extremely vulnerable populations, including migrant workers and new immigrants.

While human trafficking happens in nearly every country of the world, it often goes unreported.

Labour exploitation in Canada

Yvon Dandurand, a criminologist and professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C., explained human trafficking often doesn’t get enough attention in Canada, and especially not the issue of labour exploitation.

Those being exploited over labour are usually forced to perform tasks outside of their mandate and are underpaid. Many of them work on farms or mines in areas were there is not a lot of police presence, Dandurand explained.

READ MORE: Man and woman arrested in human-trafficking probe across southern Ontario

“The victimization goes on for sometimes years” before it is caught, Dandurand noted.

“Human trafficking in general does not come to the attention of police, because people don’t report it.

“This is the kind of crime that only comes to the surface when the police looks for it proactively,” he said, pointing to the Barrie investigation as an example.

WATCH: ‘I went to bed a slave, woke up a free man,’ Barrie human trafficking victim says






Dandurand added that the majority of reported human trafficking cases in Canada are from Ontario.

“Does that tell us that human trafficking doesn’t happen elsewhere? It tells us that in Ontario, law enforcement has devoted more attention and more resources to the investigation of those cases,” he said.

Human trafficking reports ‘steadily’ increasing

According to Statistics Canada, there were 340 police-reported cases of human trafficking in Canada in 2016, where it was also the most serious violation.

StatCan explained the number has been steadily rising since the agency began collecting data.

READ MORE: Woman tells N.S. court she wanted to die after being lured into prostitution

“Between 2009 and 2016, there were a total of 1,220 police-reported incidents of human trafficking where it was the
most serious violation,” the report, titled, “Trafficking in persons in Canada,” explained.

“The number and rate of human trafficking incidents have steadily increased since 2010.”

In Canada, most cases of human trafficking involve other offences, such as assault or sexual exploitation.

The vast majority of victims in Canada between 2009 and 2016, at 95 per cent, were women. And among women, 70 per cent were younger than 25 years of age.

Nearly three in 10 victims experienced some sort of physical injury. Many also suffer from emotional and psychological trauma, the StatCan report noted.

WATCH: Human trafficking victim hopes her story will save others






Hidden operations

The operations are often so hidden that even the companies who employ these workers claim they didn’t have knowledge of the exploitation.

That seemed to be the case in Barrie, where the company that employed the Mexican workers said it wasn’t aware of their plight.

In a news release Tuesday, Living Water Resorts explained it hired the workers through a housekeeping company and paid them $21 per hour. It said they were “unaware of any alleged abuse.”

“In light of the allegations that have come forward and police reports of the living conditions and treatment of these contract workers, the Resort has cut ties with the third party contractor immediately,” the release read.

WATCH: Durham Region human trafficking awareness program launches






Difficult to prove in court

Beyond that, Dandurand explained human trafficking cases that make into court rarely result in convictions.

According to the Integrated Criminal Court Survey, between 2008 and 2016 there were 84 completed adult criminal court cases in Canada where human trafficking was the most serious offence.

READ MORE: Canada deports 20 members of Hamilton-area human trafficking ring

Sixty per cent of those cases were stayed or withdrawn. One-third resulted in a guilty finding, and the accused was acquitted in five cases.

“It’s a very difficult crime to prove. Sometimes you get the cooperation of victims, but not always,” Dandurand said.

“Victims of human trafficking are not always the most persuasive witnesses. They are traumatized and fear reprisal.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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