Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Canada

Newsline: Canada’s Global Affairs won’t confirm if ambassador joined diplomat husband on Myanmar beach

After a Canadian diplomat deleted an “insensitive” tweet about a “perfect” beach in Myanmar, Global Affairs is refusing to confirm if his wife, Canada’s ambassador to Myanmar, had joined him on holiday in a country that is facing widespread international condemnation for a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign. “First day of 2018 unfolded on a Myanmar beach where the great surf is pleasingly turquoise coloured, warm, clean and clear — perfect for snorkelling to visit with nature and the fish,” Canada’s ambassador to Indonesia, Peter MacArthur, tweeted on the morning of Jan. 1 along with a trio of photos showing a deserted stretch of shoreline. CTV News London correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian captured a screengrab and retweeted those words and photos before MacArthur quickly deleted them at the urging of Global Affairs Canada. MacArthur had been on a private trip to the Southeast Asian country where his wife, Karen MacArthur, serves as Canada’s ambassador — a position that comes with additional hardship pay. Although Canadian officials have described the ongoing persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority as “ethnic cleansing,” there are no rules that bar diplomats from vacationing in the troubled country, where many large hotels and resorts are financially linked to its military. Myanmar’s military has been accused of being complicit in the longstanding humanitarian crisis. “The government of Canada takes the situation in Myanmar very seriously and is deeply concerned by the ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity that are occurring there,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Brianne Maxwell said in an emailed statement to CTV News. “Ambassador MacArthur was advised to delete the Tweet in question.” Peter MacArthur has been working with the department since 1982 and has held positions in countries such as Russia, India and Japan. He has been Canada’s ambassador to Indonesia since 2016.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/global-affairs-won-t-confirm-if-ambassador-joined-diplomat-husband-on-myanmar-beach-1.3748654

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Newsline: Canada sent doctor to Cuba to examine embassy staff

The Canadian government sent a doctor to Cuba to examine embassy diplomats who complained of medical ailments thought to have been caused by acoustic attacks, Canadian media reported. Newly declassified and released memos show that Dr. Jeffery Chermin, a physician with Health Canada, was dispatched to the Canadian embassy in Havana. Diplomatic staff experienced symptoms similar to that suffered by American diplomats such as nosebleeds, short-term memory and hearing loss as well as nausea. The source of the maladies remains a mystery, but speculation by officials pointed to some type of sonic attack. The phenomenon was severe enough that the U.S., blaming Cuba for the attacks, recalled many of its embassy staff home from Havana, while expelling Cuban representatives from Washington. The newly disclosed Global Canada memos state that as early as May, Canadian staff experienced medical problems.

http://aa.com.tr/en/americas/canada-sent-doctor-to-cuba-to-examine-embassy-staff/1022955

Newsline: Venezuela expels top Brazil and Canada diplomats

Venezuela has expelled the Brazilian ambassador to Caracas, Ruy Pereira, and Canadian charge d’affaires Craib Kowalik. The move was announced by the head of Venezuela’s powerful Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez. Ms Rodriguez accused Brazil of violating the rule of law and Canada of interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Both countries have strongly criticised the move. The decision to expel Ambassador Pereira may have been triggered by Brazil’s recent complaint that President Nicolás Maduro was “constantly harassing the opposition”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-42469225

Newsline: Audits on ‘higher fraud-risk’ Canadian embassies find undocumented payments

The audits in Nigeria, Algeria, Russia, India and Kenya were ordered after a probe found Canada’s embassy in Haiti was defrauded of $1.7M over 12 years. Audits of five Canadian embassies operating in “higher fraud-risk environments” have found cases of questionable procurement practices, undocumented payments for work, and sky-high levels of overtime for drivers. The audits were ordered after a 2016 investigation discovered that Canada’s embassy in Haiti was defrauded of $1.7 million over 12 years through inflated supply contracts and diverted materials. The government fired 17 locally recruited employees over the case. Management audits were conducted on Canadian embassies in Nigeria, Algeria, Russia, India and Kenya, as well as on Canada’s embassy in South Korea as a low-risk environment for comparison purposes. The audit on the Nigeria embassy was the most damning, concluding that protocols around “finance, procurement, contracting, revenues, and asset management were not consistently followed and some key controls were not in place or were circumvented.” Several dubious payments were found, including one case where the contract was signed after the work had already commenced, another where the overtime was paid at a higher rate than in the contract, and another where the value of the contract was “significantly exceeded without a contract amendment.”

Audits on ‘higher fraud-risk’ Canadian embassies find undocumented payments, ballooning overtime costs

Newsline: Kurds across Canada demonstrate in front of US Embassy offices

The Kurdish diaspora across Canada on Tuesday demonstrated in front of the United States Embassy offices, calling on Washington to break its silence as Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia militias continue to attack Peshmerga. In the Canadian capital of Ottawa, the Kurdish diaspora gathered in front of the Canadian Parliament building before marching toward the US Embassy. The peaceful rally, organized by the Kurdish Association of Canada, was meant to bring attention to the recent injustices against Kurdistan at the hands of the Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia.

http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/c58fa342-86af-4bef-a108-5451f2f03526

Newsline: Canada says has no plans to remove embassy staff from Cuba

Canada has no plans to change its travel advice for Cuba or to remove any Canadian staff from its embassy there, though some staff have experienced some unusual symptoms, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Friday. “Some of our diplomatic staff and their family members started to experience unusual symptoms in March 2017, including earaches, dizziness and headaches,” said Adam Austen. “All of the personnel who experienced symptoms underwent testing in Canada and the U.S. and the cause of the symptoms remains unknown. We have been working closely with Cuban authorities to ascertain the cause. We continue to monitor the situation closely and we have no plans to travel advice or remove any staff,” Austen added. The United States on Friday cut its diplomatic presence in Cuba by more than half and warned U.S. citizens not to visit because of mysterious “attacks” that have caused hearing loss, dizziness and fatigue in U.S. embassy personnel.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cuba-canada/canada-says-has-no-plans-to-remove-embassy-staff-from-cuba-idUSKCN1C430Z?il=0

Newsline: Police give all-clear after bomb threat at Canadian embassy in Berlin

German police said on they had given the all-clear after employees of the Canadian embassy in Berlin evacuated their building because they had received a bomb threat. The Canadian embassy alerted police of the threat but police determined it was not to be taken seriously and employees then re-entered the building, a police spokesman said. He added that police had not ordered the embassy to be evacuated. No one at the embassy was immediately available to comment.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-canada/police-give-all-clear-after-bomb-threat-at-canadian-embassy-in-berlin-idUSKCN1BA0UZ