National Newswatch

Spy vs. spy, porn at work, and pranks: Inside labour hearings at Canada’s spy agency

Nov 21 2017 — Alex Boutilier — An employee at the Communications Security Establishment was suspended after unauthorized and potentially unlawful research that created a security risk for the spy agency. The 2014 incident was included in more than 100 pages of heavily-censored labour relations documents — detailing everything from CSE staff snooping on each other, to employees watching pornography at work, […]

Liberals won’t act on proposals to aid news industry

Oct 18 2017 — Alex Boutilier — The Liberal government appears to be taking a pass on several proposals put forward by a parliamentary committee to assist Canada’s struggling news industry. In a letter to Heritage Committee chair Hedy Fry, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said Monday the government recognizes the “important role” news media plays in Canadian society.

Officials considered one-on-one meeting between Trudeau and Putin, documents say

Jul 7 2017 — Alex Boutilier — Canadian foreign affairs officials were contemplating a one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Russian President Vladimir Putin, documents obtained by the Star show. Warming relations between Ottawa and Moscow had senior public servants envisioning a “leaders’ level encounter” between Trudeau and Putin as recently as August 2016. “Re-engaging (with Russia) is a complex […]

Canadian military contractor targeted by hacker

Jun 29 2017 — Alex Boutilier — A contracting company that does millions of dollars in business with Canada’s federal government and military agencies has been hacked, the Star has learned. Valcom Consulting confirmed Thursday morning that its website was recently defaced, and officials said they’re conducting an internal investigation into the incident. The initial indication is no information was compromised or […]

Spy bill allows government security agency to collect ‘publicly available’ info on Canadians

Jun 21 2017 — Alex Boutilier — The Liberals’ new national security legislation would confirm the Communications Security Establishment’s power to collect “publicly available” information about Canadians. New language in Bill C-59 outlines CSE’s ability to obtain and analyze any information already in the public realm, including aggregate information that relates to Canadians. The spy agency is strictly prohibited from targeting Canadians […]

Despite risk of cyber attacks, political parties still handle Canadians’ data with no rules in place

Jun 19 2017 — Alex Boutilier — Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould says it’s not the time to implement basic privacy and security rules for political parties’ collection of Canadians’ personal data, despite warning those parties are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Speaking with the Star on Friday, Gould said she decided on a voluntary approach for parties to meet and discuss vulnerabilities […]

Ottawa’s foreign policy pivot began before Liberals took office, documents show

Jun 11 2017 — Alex Boutilier — When Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland outlined the Liberal government’s new vision for foreign policy, it was received both as a shift in Ottawa’s approach to international relations and as a direct response to the political climate in the United States. Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Freeland reaffirmed the Canadian government’s commitment […]

Longtime staff members, friends drove Andrew Scheer’s dream team

Jun 4 2017 — Alex Boutilier — “Everybody’s second choice” isn’t a terribly inspiring political rallying cry, but it turns out it can be an effective one. As Conservative members made their way into the party’s leadership vote on May 27, volunteers for Andrew Scheer cheerfully handed out buttons supporting their candidate. The buttons didn’t ask anyone to make Scheer their top […]

Social conservative candidates got strong support from Toronto suburbs, leadership data says

May 30 2017 — Alex Boutilier — Conservative leadership data shows social conservatives had a strong showing in suburban Toronto ridings, where anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage candidates were the first choice of a significant percentage of party members. Social conservatives were credited with providing the final push to secure Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s victory at the party’s Etobicoke convention Saturday. According to […]

O’Leary disputes claim he didn’t want the leadership

May 27 2017 — Alex Boutilier — Kevin O’Leary is disputing an account from his former campaign chair that the television personality and businessman didn’t want to become Conservative leader. On Friday, former campaign chair Mike Coates said O’Leary asked senior staff in April if there was some way for him to come in “a close second” in the Conservative leadership race, […]

Ottawa downplays Trump intelligence sharing with Russia

May 16 2017 — Alex Boutilier — Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says allied countries must “properly respect” Canadian values when handling intelligence shared by Canada’s spy agencies, as the fallout from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Russian meeting continues. Goodale was repeatedly asked Tuesday if he was concerned Trump shared classified information, reportedly given to the U.S. by an ally, with the […]

Canada’s spies examining ‘vulnerabilities’ in election system

May 12 2017 — Alex Boutilier — The Communications Security Establishment has begun a promised review into the risks of foreign interference in the 2019 election, the Star has learned. CSE, Canada’s signals intelligence and cyber defence agency, is conducting a “risk assessment” into how vulnerable Canadian elections are to foreign hacking and information operations. The timeline for the review, and its […]

What Maxime Bernier’s Canada would look like

May 8 2017 — Alex Boutilier — Maxime Bernier has a dramatically different idea about how Canada should work. Bernier would get the federal government out of health care, transferring the full responsibility to provinces and paving the way for more private delivery. Bernier would tie Canada’s foreign aid to “morality,” and believes billions of it should be spent instead on tax […]

Liberals resume cabinet fundraisers under new rules

Apr 29 2017 — Alex Boutilier — Liberal cabinet ministers are once again hitting the fundraising circuit, but are promising to adhere to new rules after “cash-for-access” allegations turned into a scandal for the party. Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr hosted a fundraiser Thursday night in Calgary, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has another scheduled for Montreal in May. Unlike the cozy […]