Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Canada

Newsline: Canada’s embassy in Haiti taken for $1.7 million by gang of swindlers and fraudsters

Canada’s embassy in Haiti was overrun by a criminal organization after more than a dozen locals hired to work at the diplomatic mission in Port-au-Prince swindled more than $1.7 million through numerous schemes and frauds, internal investigation reports reveal. An internal probe of the embassy’s finances and staffing from 2015 to 2016 uncovered systematic fabrication of documents, fraudulent bills, forged signatures, misdirected cheques, secret commissions and personal use of Canada’s diplomatic license plates. A Canadian court has now branded the local embassy employees a criminal organization.



Newsline: Survivors of 2016 bomb attack on Kabul embassy guards suing Canada for $20.4 million

Thirteen Nepalese Gurkhas and two Indian contractors were killed in that June 20, 2016 attack, when a suicide bomber belonging to the terrorist splinter group Islamic State-Khorasan Province sprinted up to the bus and triggered the bomb. Sherchan was knocked unconscious. CBC News has learned that survivors of that attack, and widows of the victims, filed suit against the Canadian government on Tuesday in Toronto at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. They allege Ottawa was negligent and failed in its duty to supervise the private security contractor which employed the guards, Sabre International Security. Neither the survivors nor their family members have spoken publicly until now. Two survivors and four widows agreed to be interviewed by CBC News through a translator. The contractor is also being sued as part of the same legal action for allegedly failing to honour insurance settlements. The plaintiffs allege the widows have received just a fraction of the $300,000 US they were owed, while the survivors received only $30,000 US of a promised $300,000 fund for health and rehabilitation benefits. The lawsuit calls on the Canadian government to cover the difference between what they were paid and what they say they were owed and seeks damages for all 20 claimants. They’re seeking $20.4 million in combined compensation and damages. The case is expected to shine a bright light on Canada’s handling of private security companies accused of preying on vulnerable migrant workers who take highly dangerous jobs for cut-rate wages. The Gurkhas killed in Kabul were taking home between $800 and $1,100 per month.


Newsline: U.S. embassy receives ‘suspicious substance’ meant for ambassador to Canada

Officials at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa say they received an envelope containing a “suspicious substance” that was addressed to the U.S. ambassador to Canada. The envelope was received at an off-site mail screening facility in Ottawa, but the mailing address was the embassy, with Kelly Knight Craft’s name on it. “The substance was tested and found not to be harmful,” the embassy told CityNews. An embassy staff member was exposed to the substance and received precautionary medical attention and is fine. A spokesperson for the embassy wouldn’t provide more details since the incident is under investigation. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland tweeted about the incident, saying it is a “wholly unacceptable threat” and that Craft “does an essential and difficult job and Canada respects her service.” CTV reports that a death threat against Craft accompanied the substance, along with a threat to U.S. President Donald Trump.


Newsline: Canada sending home families of diplomats in Cuba after cases of ‘new type’ of brain injury

Canada is designating Cuba an “unaccompanied post” — meaning diplomats’ families will not be allowed to live with them in the country during a posting — because of new information about mysterious symptoms suffered by Canadian and U.S. diplomats and their families.Canadian diplomatic staff in Havana were informed of the decision Monday morning. The federal government has made arrangements to bring family members home in the coming weeks. Ten Canadians in Cuba have experienced symptoms — including headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty concentrating — according to government officials who briefed reporters in Ottawa Monday. A new report by a Canadian medical specialist raises the possibility that some of the Canadians have experienced a “new type of possible acquired brain injury.” A senior government official said that this injury is new to science. “The cause remains unknown but could be human-made,” said a media release from Global Affairs. Officials said that some of those who seemed to recover have since seen the symptoms reassert themselves. The RCMP is investigating the illness reports.


Newsline: Russian embassy calls Trudeau’s criticism of Putin ‘confrontational’

The Russian embassy is firing back at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin at a news conference this week. Trudeau said on Wednesday during a Toronto press conference that Putin needs to start playing a more positive role in the world on a variety of fronts, from Ukraine, to Syria, to the Arctic, as well as answering for Russia’s role in the nerve gas attack in Britain two weeks ago. The embassy tweeted its response on Thursday, accusing Trudeau of using confrontational and unproductive rhetoric. Trudeau also said on Wednesday that Canada needs to be vigilant about protecting the integrity of its electoral systems from foreign interference. However, the Russian Embassy tweet did not mention election meddling.


Newsline: Canadian Embassy Officials in Mexico Accused of ‘Supporting’ Corrupt Miners

Mexican and Canadian activist and civil organizations are demanding the Canadian government investigate its embassy in Mexico for supporting the mining company Blackfire Exploration despite corruption allegations. Organizations such as the Mariano Abarca Environmental Foundation, Otros Mundos Chiapas, Chiapas Autonomous University Law School Human Rights Center and the Affected by Mining Mexican Network, along with Mining Watch Canada made the petition to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (PSIC) of Canada, an independent oversight office, hoping the embassy and its personnel will be investigated. Now, the PSIC has 90 days to decide if they will investigate the case. This is the first time the PSIC, which can ask for sanctions or make other recommendations, has been invited to investigate an embassy. The complaint states that the embassy continued to support Blackfire even after Mariano Abarca, an environmental activist opposing the company activities in Chiapas, southeastern Mexico, was killed in 2009. He was shot in front of his restaurant in Chicomuselo by armed people on a motorcycle. A week before his murder, Abarca had notified authorities that he was receiving death, which he believed were linked with Blackfire. One employee and two former employees of Blackfire were detained as suspects following the murder. Only one of them was sentenced at the time, but all three of them are now free. The organizations are now asking the PSIC to investigate the embassy and have also demanded that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights investigate what happened in 2009. The Mexican government halted Blackfire operations after Abarca’s murder, but they were able to continue after a few days. The embassy supported their activities through 2009 and afterward as other controversies showed up.


Newsline: US embassy worker ordered to pay back Ottawa landlord

An American diplomat will pay an Ottawa landlord more than $10,000 in owed rent and legal fees in the wake of an Ontario Superior Court ruling that her diplomatic immunity doesn’t cover rent disputes. Justice Rohan Bansie ruled last week that Betsy Zouroudis’s diplomatic status doesn’t exempt her from paying back rent to her former landlord, Rolf Baumann. Ms. Zouroudis, who works at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, and Mr. Baumann reached a settlement on Tuesday morning, less than an hour before she was scheduled to appear before an Ottawa court to determine how she would pay the landlord. Mr. Baumann said Ms. Zouroudis has agreed to pay back $8,625 – two months rent – plus $1,500 in legal fees. For the landlord, who has rented his properties to diplomats in Ottawa for 25 years, it’s not about the money.