Why sending the U.S. spy chief to meet Kim Jong-un was a ‘savvy’ move by Trump

It’s probably the clearest indication yet that U.S. President Donald Trump’s unconventional diplomatic approach toward North Korea might be working to achieve his desired “peace through strength.” It’s also a blaring warning that the North is more dangerous than ever, confident it now has the long-range nuclear goods to strike the continental United States.

The revelation that CIA chief Mike Pompeo met secretly last week with Kim Jong-un represents a diplomatic seesaw of sorts for foreign policy observers, delivering both relief and anxiety.

Trump confirmed that Pompeo, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, met secretly with Kim to lay the groundwork for historic face-to-face talks between the leaders of the two nuclear-armed powers.

The high-level co-operation from the hermit kingdom looks to be a promising step — one that experts say should be tempered with the startling conclusion that Defence Secretary James Mattis made in November.

Pyongyang, Mattis told reporters, has the ability to “threaten everywhere in the world” with its nukes.

It’s in this context that Pompeo met with Kim over the Easter weekend.

This is an unorthodox White House approach — having the American spy service in the driver’s seat for communications with North Korea that might ordinarily be conducted via diplomatic channels.

Trump tweeted that the meeting, which happened while Pompeo was awaiting confirmation from the Senate to become the new secretary of state, “went very smoothly.”

There’s good reason for North Korea to want to keep things that way, amid biting sanctions that the pariah state wants lifted.

“Kim Jong-un now thinks he has a negotiating chip. He has the spectre of saying he can do something. Before, he didn’t have a deliverable nuclear weapon that could hit us,” retired Army Lt.-Col. Dan Davis, who served as a U.S. adviser to the Second Republic of Korea Army, said.

“Now, he’s thinking he’s got something he can actually negotiate with.”

North Korea likely believes it’s operating from a position of strength, or a nuclear “sweet spot,” said Mintaro Oba, a former State Department official in the Obama administration. The regime otherwise wouldn’t have the nerve to pursue such ambitious diplomacy, he said.

“The sweet spot for North Korea,” he said, “is having the ability to attack the U.S. homelands and amp up the threat perception in the United States so that North Korea increases its leverage without actually conducting any sort of offensive attack.”

North Korea tests its intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15. This undated photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang Nov. 30, 2017. (KCNA/Reuters)

The dramatic advances in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Oba said, don’t mean they intend to deploy those weapons against the U.S. The North Koreans realize the U.S. nuclear capabilities and conventional military force far exceed theirs, he said.

“It would be committing suicide,” as Davis put it. “They’ve come to a poker game without any face cards. We’ve got a deck of kings, queens and aces — and time is on our side.”

What puts the U.S. in an “unequivocally dominant” bargaining position, he said, is that Kim won’t stomach indefinite negotiations without a deal in the face of tough sanctions impeding his country’s bid for economic modernization.

Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric antagonizing North Korea has arguably worked so far, Davis says. The unconventional approach has yielded “healthy developments,” said Stephen Noerper, a former State Department analyst and the senior director of the Korea Society.

Pompeo’s role in the Kim talks furthers the narrative that Trump wants his intelligence community to effectively run diplomatic efforts. Counterintuitive as it may sound, Noerper argues, it’s a shrewd tactic, given how Pyongyang operates, with its national intelligence apparatus outranking its foreign ministry.

“From the North Korean perspective, to have the U.S. send the CIA director makes perfect sense,” he said. “It’s someone [Kim] would see as enjoying the personal support of the president, and having the highest level of security clearance and access to private information.”

If it’s not the way such diplomatic missions are usually conducted, so be it, Noerper said.

“Whether it was intended or not, it was a savvy move.”

In the meantime, North Korea is making predictable diplomatic moves, including having Kim approach China in advance of the talks.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have also met ahead of an all-important inter-Korean summit, in which North Korea and South Korea are expected to discuss a way to formalize a peace agreement after being technically locked in a 70-year war.

Kim, left, and South Korean Culture Minister Do Jong-whan attend a rare concert by South Korean musicians in Pyongyang on April 1. (AFP/Getty Images)

Pompeo’s trip could confirm that Kim is serious about talks.

Although critics believe the success of Trump’s pressure campaign has been overstated, many also say the positive momentum is hard to deny.

“It’s ill-advised to rely primarily on intelligence channels to conduct diplomacy, and to favour the CIA over the State Department,” said Oba, the former Korea desk officer at State. At the same time, he said, there can be value in employing different channels in dealing with a country as secretive and mercurial as North Korea.

“If one of those channels happens to be the CIA director and North Korean intelligence, and if that’s working,” he said, “then that’s good for us.”

‘We deserve better:’ Family of Colten Boushie calls for United Nations to study systemic racism in Canada

Family members of Colten Boushie delivered a fiery call for justice at the international table Wednesday, as they called for the United Nations to undertake a study of systemic racism against Indigenous people in Canada’s judicial and legal systems.

“The Canadian justice system has failed Colten, our community and Indigenous people in ways that impedes our human rights,” Jade Tootoosis, cousin to Boushie, told the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, describing this failure as one of the state to uphold treaty rights.

“We deserve better. My brother Colten deserves better.”

Family shares Boushie’s story

Boushie’s family attended the forum in New York City to raise awareness about the circumstances around the 22-year-old’s death and the handling of the case.

The man from Red Pheasant First Nation, in Saskatchewan, died of a gunshot wound after he and a group of Indigenous friends drove onto the property of farmer Gerald Stanley on August 2016.

An aerial view of Gerald Stanley’s farm taken by RCMP. (RCMP)

During Stanley’s trial for second-degree murder earlier this year, the jury heard that he and his family believed the individuals were there to steal property, with Stanley expressing fears for his family’s life.

Stanley was acquitted of all charges in Boushie’s death. The Crown decided not to appeal the jury verdict.

The systemic injustices, the acquittal and the decision not to appeal show that justice is not equally applied to Indigenous people in Canada.– Jade Tootoosis, cousin of Colten Boushie

“The acquittal was celebrated by the majority of settlers on the notion that material property is worth more than an Indigenous life,” Tootoosis told the UN forum, using a term some Indigenous people use to describe non-Indigenous people who came to Canada and occupied Native lands. 

“The systemic injustices, the acquittal and the decision not to appeal show that justice is not equally applied to Indigenous people in Canada.”

She said Boushie and his family continue to be “misrepresented” in social media, with racial hatred on display.

“Colten was not a thief. He was a kind and generous young man,” she told the forum. 

Tootoosis called on the UN to have its special rapporteur study systemic racism against Indigenous people within the Canadian judicial and legal systems. The study must produce recommendations to protect the Indigenous families accessing these systems, she said.

“This will advance our calls on the Canadian government to establish a royal commission on the elimination of racism in the justice system,” Tootoosis said.

She felt only such a commission would have the authority to address what she called “the miscarriage of justice” in her cousin’s death.

Indigenous rights on global scale

Tootoosis’s speech was part of an annual two-week session to discuss Indigenous issues.

Afterward, Tootoosis and Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, described themselves as honoured to have been able to address the UN.

“We would like the justice system to change, and we would like a fair chance and an opportunity that we get heard and our rights are taken into consideration,” said Baptiste.  

Tootoosis said many at the UN forum had already heard of Boushie’s story and were full of support and prayers for his family. Other Indigenous people from elsewhere in the world shared their stories with the family, and talked about their struggles in accessing justice as well, she said.  

“This isn’t just a Saskatchewan issue. This isn’t just a Canadian issue. This is a human rights issue,” Tootoosis said, adding everyone should have the right not to be discriminated against based on their skin colour or background.

“This is about Colten and it’s about so much more at the same time because too many — too many — families have experienced what we’ve experienced — [it’s] unacceptable on a global scale as well.”

Supreme Court decision on ‘free-the-beer’ case lands today

The Supreme Court of Canada will issue a ruling today on whether Canadians have a constitutional right to buy and transport alcohol across provincial borders without impediments.

The so-called ‘free-the-beer’ case also could have major implications for sales of tobacco and cannabis, and for the supply management system relied upon by Canada’s dairy and egg industries to maintain prices.

The man at the heart of the case is Gerard Comeau, a retired New Brunswick man who, two or three times a year, drives from his home in Tracadie — some 160 kilometres north of Moncton — to Quebec, where it’s cheaper to buy beer and liquor.

In 2012 he was stopped at the New Brunswick-Quebec border by the RCMP and fined $292.50 for having 14 cases of beer, two bottles of whisky and one bottle of liqueur in his vehicle.

You can order a gun from another province and have it delivered to you, but you can’t order a bottle of wine.– Dan Paskowski, president of the Canadian Vintners Association

Most provinces limit how much alcohol people can bring across provincial borders. New Brunswick’s Liquor Control Act sets a limit of 12 pints of beer (about 18 cans or bottles), or one bottle of wine or spirits.

“I’m expecting that the Supreme Court is going to give a decision that’s going to be fair for everybody. I can’t see them saying the province has the right to limit what’s coming into the province from another province,” said Comeau in an interview with CBC News.

Comeau’s argument centres on section 121 of the Constitution Act, which states products from any province “shall … be admitted free into each of the other provinces.”

A 1921 Supreme Court decision interpreted that to mean the products only had to be free from tariffs, not from other barriers such as limits on quantity.

Comeau and others argue that decision offered too narrow an interpretation, and that it led to the proliferation of interprovincial trade barriers.

Gerard Comeau stayed at home in Tracadie, N.B. instead of attending the Supreme Court hearing in Ottawa. (Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada)

Guns versus wine

One of the 24 intervenors in the case was the Canadian Vintners Association, which has been lobbying for direct-to-consumer wine sales for more than a decade.

“It really is strange that in 2018 you can order a gun from another province and have it delivered to you, but you can’t order a bottle of wine,” said Dan Paskowski, president of the Canadian Vintners Association.

“We are one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t allow wine to be shipped across provincial borders or state borders.”

The number of intervenors in the case is a clear indication of how far-reaching the implications of this case could be. They go far beyond Canadians simply looking to save some money on booze, or to order a hard-to-find Canadian wine.

Provinces — especially those with liquor control boards that operate as alcohol monopolies — rely on alcohol sales for revenue and taxes.

If the Supreme Court rules they can no longer limit imports from provinces with lower prices and taxes, those higher-priced provinces could suffer budget gaps.

Provinces also place limits on the amount of tobacco products Canadians can transport across borders; similar limits could be placed on recreational cannabis when it’s made legal for sale. And since the supply management system places limits on both the production and price of certain agricultural commodities, it’s at risk as well.

“Especially for the governments, financially, there is a lot at stake,” said Comeau’s lawyer Mikael Bernard in an interview with CBC News.

High prices a key deterrent

But others say Canadians’ health is also at stake.

Canadian Cancer Society senior policy analyst Rob Cunningham argues higher prices on alcohol and tobacco deter consumption — and that’s a good thing.

“Provinces should be able to tax harmful products to discourage consumption. We know higher prices have an impact, especially among teenagers,” he said.

But Bernard argues the court should concern itself only with interpreting the Constitution, not the potential “aftermath” of its decision.

“Win, lose or draw, I believe that Mr. Comeau can at least be proud that he opened up a nationwide discussion about the issue,” he said.

For his part, Comeau said he was never aiming to make legal history. He just wants an answer from the court, either way.

“My aim is to find out whether I can shop wherever I want.”

Police arrest mother of 2-year-old found dead in Quebec City

Audrey Gagnon, 23, will appear in a Quebec City courtroom Thursday morning to face charges in connection with the death of her two-year-old daughter.

Police said they are recommending she be charged with murder, though the final decision will be made by Quebec’s director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions.

The body of Rosalie Gagnon was found near a home on De Gaulle Avenue on Wednesday afternoon, in the city’s Charlesbourg neighbourhood. The toddler was pronounced dead in hospital.

Police said an autopsy will be performed on the girl on Thursday to determine the exact cause of death.

The mother and toddler were reported missing earlier on Wednesday. Police found the woman in an apartment near Gaspard Avenue in the afternoon.

She was with a man at the time. Police said both were interviewed, but the man was eventually released.

The search for the mother and daughter was triggered around 7 a.m. ET Wednesday when someone contacted police after finding an empty baby stroller in Bon-Air Park.

Inflation is back, says Bank of Canada, but it holds off on rate hikes: Don Pittis

Canadian borrowers fearful of another hike in Bank of Canada interest rates are likely off the hook for three months at least.

There is a tiny chance central bank governor Stephen Poloz and his deputy Carolyn Wilkins could raise rates at the next meeting on May 30, but since there is no news conference scheduled to explain their actions, it’s likely the next opportunity to hike won’t be until July.

But the governors made it very clear at yesterday’s meet-the-media session that Canadians must be prepared for a series of future interest rate increases.

“Our uncertainty is about how much and at what pace,” said Poloz.

Housing slowdown

The bank’s research shows housing activity “contracted sharply in the first quarter,” according to the Monetary Policy Report. But Poloz attributes most of that decline to people responding to new, stricter mortgage rules that kicked in Jan. 1 by rushing their plans to buy.A hopeful sign stands at an empty site in East Gwillimbury, Ont. The Bank of Canada says sales will pick up again soon. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Effectively, the real estate business that would have happened at the beginning of this year moved to the last few months of 2017 to beat the new stress tests, making the contrast between the two periods even more dramatic.

Poloz says that, and a temporary bottleneck in rail traffic that cut into exports, will begin to disappear from the economic data any time now, causing a sharp return to economic growth.

Bargain rates yield results

Overall yesterday’s report contained good news. For years, bargain-basement interest rates have failed to spark inflation into life, but now there are clear signs the economy is kicking into gear.

Statistics Canada said in March that the annual inflation rate rose to 2.2. per cent in February, from 1.7 the month before.

The pause in rate increases comes while the central bank waits for more data on the future of the economy and inflation. While the bank is confident growth will continue, there are several reasons the pace of that growth remains uncertain.The NAFTA talks are headed by Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Uncertainty over the deal has slowed the growth of Canadian economic capacity, Poloz says. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

While talk of completing a NAFTA renegotiation with the U.S. and Mexico has become more optimistic in the last month, the bank says there are still signs economic capacity — the ability of Canada to produce goods and services — isn’t increasing as fast as Poloz had hoped. 

Trade uncertainty and confusion over whether U.S. tax cuts would make it better to invest south of the border may have slowed Canadian business investment, not in real terms but compared to what would have happened without those uncertainties.

Rate reaction nightmare?

Bank of Canada researchers also want a better reading on consumer reaction to rising interest rates. Wilkins has said high Canadian household debt levels as interest rates rise keep her awake at night.

The bank says Canadians are beginning to rein in their debt. The difficult question for Wilkins and Poloz is how strongly Canadians will respond to recent rate rises, and perhaps even more unpredictable, how they will respond to the prospect of more increases to come.

According to yesterday’s report, the neutral rate, the interest rate that would neither stimulate nor slow the economy, is between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent, well above the bank’s current 1.5 per cent level.Striking CP Rail workers picket in Coquitlam, B.C., in 2012. Rail workers have again threatened to walk out, and this time they will likely be looking for wage increases to help them catch up with inflation. (Andy Clark/Reuters)

The other thing that the bank wants to research before it makes another move is the Canadian reaction to inflation itself.

After years when prices hardly moved there is a growing perception that prices are rising faster than many people’s wages.

Workers who received annual increments of between one and 1.5 per cent in the past few years are beginning to realize their spending power is dwindling as the prices of their purchases go up by more than two per cent.

Playing catch-up 

“We have noted before that we would expect wages to be growing by around three per cent in an economy operating close to capacity,” said Poloz.

He sounded quite proud that the analysis by his team correctly predicted inflation would hit the midpoint of the bank’s two per cent target about now.

That same team of analysts says inflation will go higher yet, significantly above two per cent in the coming year, but then fall back to two per cent in 2019. They say the economy will still need help from below-trend interest rates.

But for now, as they refrain from using rates to keep a lid on inflation, Poloz and Wilkins will be hoping Canadian businesses planning to raise prices and wage earners hoping to catch up on more than a decade of losses have read the bank’s predictions and will keep singing from the Bank of Canada’s moderate-inflation song book.

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis

Barbara Bush, mother of 43rd U.S. president and wife of 41st, dead at 92

Barbara Bush, the snowy-haired president’s wife whose plainspoken manner and utter lack of pretence made her more popular at times than her husband, U.S. president George H.W. Bush, died Tuesday. She was 92.

Family spokesperson Jim McGrath confirmed the death in a statement. The cause wasn’t immediately known.

Bush brought a grandmotherly style to buttoned-down Washington, often appearing in her trademark fake pearl chokers and displaying no vanity about her white hair and wrinkles.

“What you see with me is what you get. I’m not running for president — George Bush is,” she said at the 1988 Republican National Convention, where her husband, then vice-president, was nominated to succeed Ronald Reagan.

The Bushes, who were married Jan. 6, 1945, had the longest marriage of any presidential couple in American history. And Bush was one of only two presidential wives who had a child who was elected president. The other was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams.

“I had the best job in America,” she wrote in a 1994 memoir describing her time in the White House. “Every single day was interesting, rewarding, and sometimes just plain fun.”

On Sunday, McGrath said Bush had decided to decline further medical treatment for health problems and focus instead on “comfort care” at home in Houston. She had been in the hospital recently for congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In 2009, she had heart valve replacement surgery and had a long history of treatment for Graves’ disease, a thyroid condition.

“My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was,” George W. Bush said in a statement Tuesday. “Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.”

A spokesperson says former president George H.W. Bush held his wife’s hand all day and was by her side when she died.

Jean Becker, the chief of staff at Bush’s office in Houston, said in a statement that the 41st president “is broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara.”

Becker says it’s a “very challenging time” for the 93-year-old Bush, but “he also is stoic and strong, and is being lifted up by his large and supportive family.”

Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney said in a statement: “A woman of great intelligence, conviction and kindness, Barbara Bush held no rancour for anyone, no matter how tough the political battles she may have endured. A great champion of literacy and children’s education, Mrs. Bush made the world a better place”

Funeral services are planned for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, which she and her husband regularly attended.

According to a post on the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation website, Barbara Bush will lie in repose from noon to midnight Friday at the church for members of the public wishing to pay respects.

The funeral service Saturday is by invitation only.

Burial will be on the grounds of the Bush library at Texas AM University in College Station, about 161 kilometres northwest of Houston.

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered U.S. flags flown at half-mast in her honour.

The publisher’s daughter and oilman’s wife could be caustic in private, but her public image was that of a self-sacrificing, supportive spouse who referred to her husband as her “hero.”

Mia Trumble, 7, sits on Bush’s lap after the former first lady spoke at ceremony for Literacy Maine in Biddeford, Maine, in June 2011. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

In the White House, “you need a friend, someone who loves you, who’s going to say, `You are great,”‘ Barbara Bush said in a 1992 television interview.

Her uncoiffed, matronly appearance often provoked jokes that she looked more like the boyish president’s mother than his wife. Late-night comedians quipped that her bright white hair and pale features also imparted an uncanny resemblance to George Washington.

Eight years after leaving the nation’s capital, Bush stood with her husband as their son George W. was sworn in as president. They returned four years later when he won a second term. Abigail Adams was unable to share the experience: She died in 1818, six years before John Quincy Adams was elected.

‘Ferociously tart-tongued’

Barbara Bush insisted she did not try to influence her husband’s politics.

“I don’t fool around with his office,” she said. “And he doesn’t fool around with my household.”

In 1984, her quick wit got her into trouble when she was quoted as referring to Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee at the time, as “that $4 million — I can’t say it, but it rhymes with rich.”

“It was dumb of me. I shouldn’t have said it,” Mrs. Bush acknowledged in 1988. “It was not attractive, and I’ve been very shamed. I apologized to Mrs. Ferraro, and I would apologize again.”

From left: Former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Barbara Bush, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton are seen in January 2003. (Reed Saxon/Associated Press)

Daughter-in-law Laura Bush, another first lady, said Bush was “ferociously tart-tongued” from the start.

“She’s never shied away from saying what she thinks … She’s managed to insult nearly all of my friends with one or another perfectly timed acerbic comment,” Laura Bush said in her 2010 book, Spoken from the Heart.

In her 1994 autobiography, Barbara Bush: A Memoir, she said she did her best to keep her opinions from the public while her husband was in office. But she revealed that she disagreed with him on two issues: She supported legal abortion and opposed the sale of assault weapons.

“I honestly felt, and still feel, the elected person’s opinion is the one the public has the right to know,” she wrote.

She also disclosed a bout with depression in the mid-1970s, saying she sometimes feared she would deliberately crash her car. She blamed hormonal changes and stress.

“Night after night, George held me weeping in his arms while I tried to explain my feelings,” she wrote. “I almost wonder why he didn’t leave me.”

She said she snapped out of it in a few months.

Family woman

Mrs. Bush raised five children: George W., Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. A sixth child, three-year-old daughter Robin, died of leukemia in 1953.

In a speech in 1985, she recalled the stress of raising a family while married to a man whose ambitions carried him from the Texas oil fields to Congress and then into influential political positions that included ambassador to the United Nations, Republican Party chairman and CIA director.

“This was a period, for me, of long days and short years,” she said, “of diapers, runny noses, earaches, more Little League games than you could believe possible, tonsils and those unscheduled races to the hospital emergency room, Sunday school and church, of hours of urging homework or short chubby arms around your neck and sticky kisses.”

This August 1992 photo shows the Bush family portrait in Houston, Texas. (Reuters)

Along the way, she said, there were also “bumpy moments — not many, but a few — of feeling that I’d never, ever be able to have fun again and coping with the feeling that George Bush, in his excitement of starting a small company and travelling around the world, was having a lot of fun.”

In 2003, she wrote a follow-up memoir, Reflections: Life After the White House.

“I made no apologies for the fact that I still live a life of ease,” she wrote. “There is a difference between ease and leisure. I live the former and not the latter.”

Along with her memoirs, she wrote C. Fred’s Story and Millie’s Book, based on the lives of her dogs. Proceeds from the books benefited adult and family literacy programs. Laura Bush, a former teacher with a master’s degree in library science, continued her mother-in-law’s literacy campaign in the White House.

From left: Barbara Bush, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Laura Bush are seen in April 2013 in Dallas, Texas. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The 43rd president was not the only Bush son to seek office in the 1990s. In 1994, when George W. was elected governor of Texas, son Jeb narrowly lost to incumbent Lawton Chiles in Florida. Four years later, Jeb was victorious in his second try in Florida.

“This is a testament to what wonderful parents they are,” George W. Bush said as Jeb Bush was sworn into office. He won a second term in 2002, and then made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Sons Marvin and Neil both became businessmen. Neil achieved some notoriety in the 1980s as a director of a savings and loan that crashed. Daughter Dorothy, or Doro, has preferred to stay out of the spotlight. She married lobbyist Robert Koch, a Democrat, in 1992.

In a collection of letters published in 1999, George H.W. Bush included a note he gave to his wife in early 1994.

“You have given me joy that few men know,” he wrote. “You have made our boys into men by bawling them out and then, right away, by loving them. You have helped Doro to be the sweetest, greatest daughter in the whole wide world. I have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.”

‘Cherish your human connections’

Barbara Bush was born Barbara Pierce in Rye, New York. Her father was the publisher of McCall’s and Redbook magazines. After attending Smith College for two years, she married young naval aviator George Herbert Walker Bush. She was 19.

After the Second World War, the Bushes moved to the Texas oil patch to seek their fortune and raise a family. It was there that Bush began his political career, representing Houston for two terms in Congress in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In all, the Bushes made more than two dozen moves that circled half the globe before landing at the White House in 1989. During the next four years, opinion polls often gave her approval ratings that exceeded her husband’s.

George H.W. Bush poses with his wife Barbara during his campaign for Congress in the 1960’s. (AFP/Getty)

The couple’s final move, after Bush lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton, was to Houston, where they built what she termed their “dream house” in an affluent neighborhood. The Bush family also had an oceanfront summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

After retiring to Houston, the Bushes helped raise funds for charities and appeared frequently at events such as Houston Astros baseball games. Public schools in the Houston area are named for both of them.

In 1990, Barbara Bush gave the commencement address at all-women Wellesley College, though some had protested her selection because she was prominent only through the achievements of her husband. Her speech that day was rated by a survey of scholars in 1999 as one of the top 100 speeches of the century.

“Cherish your human connections,” Mrs. Bush told graduates. “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.”

CSIS worked to thwart diplomatic efforts to secure Abdelrazik’s release, documents suggest

Court records released as part of the $27-million lawsuit involving former terror suspect Abousfian Abdelrazik suggest Canada’s spy agency went to extraordinary lengths to disrupt efforts by diplomats trying to win the man’s release from a Sudanese prison.

According to the documents, intelligence officers routinely contradicted Canadian Foreign Affairs officials in order to ensure the alleged al-Qaeda suspect remained in custody — raising questions about whether those officers lied to the Sudanese about the strength of the case against Abdelrazik.

The documents, including briefing notes, email traffic and cables from the Canadian embassy in Khartoum, span six years and also show former Foreign Affairs minister Lawrence Cannon ignored the advice of his officials when he denied Abdelrazik an emergency passport in the spring of 2009.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has long denied asking that the now 55-year-old Montreal man be detained by Sudanese authorities in 2003 — but the documents raise fresh questions.

Abdelrazik claims he was tortured while in custody and said in an interview with CBC News that he is bitterly disappointed the federal government has chosen not to settle his case but will instead fight it out in court.

“I’m an innocent person,” he said. “I want to end this drama.”

He said he wonders if he is paying the political price for settlements with other alleged terror suspects, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr.

“I hear the media complain of the Canadian people, [and] the taxpayer. I hear that,” Abdelrazik said. “I wonder why, why [do] they leave it for the last moment. Why? I don’t understand.”

The Liberal government pulled out of mediation talks one day before they were to begin at the end of February.

The trove of sometimes heavily redacted internal Foreign Affairs and CSIS documents released as part of the lawsuit show multiple arms of Sudan’s government, including the intelligence branch, told Canadian diplomats that CSIS asked for Abdelrazik’s arrest.

The information coming from Sudan’s foreign ministry was quite specific. One Sudanese official was quoted in a June 11, 2004, Canadian embassy cable message saying that “all of the ‘trouble’ started because Canada sent a security officer [redacted] who talked to the Sudanese security division and told them to hold Mr. A [redacted].”

That message raises the possibility that whoever spoke to the Sudanese may have misled them about the case against Abdelrazik.

“We are coming as a third party trying to say what the security officer told them is not true,” said the embassy message.

Newly released documents raise questions about whether CSIS misled Abousfian Abdelrazik’s Sudanese captors about the strength of the case against him. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Abdelrazik spent nearly six years in prison or forced exile after CSIS fingered him as an al-Qaeda terrorist. The Federal Court ordered the Stephen Harper government in 2009 to bring him home after Cannon refused to issue a temporary passport.

Cannon is named personally in Abdelrazik’s lawsuit, which was on the way to being settled until federal lawyers pulled out of mediation in February.

The former minister declined comment and directed CBC News to government lawyers.

Spies, lies and diplomacy

The former head of intelligence at Foreign Affairs tells CBC News that CSIS told him it did not order Abdelrazik’s detention.

Dan Livermore isn’t sure now whether to believe it.

“We have still not been able to get to the bottom of this,” Livermore told CBC News in an interview.

A former CSIS analyst said he does not believe the spy agency was responsible.

“I find it hard to believe that CSIS would say, ‘Oh, and by the way, pick him up, he’s a danger,'” said Phil Gurski, now retired, who worked counter-terrorism cases with both CSIS and Public Safety.

“I don’t want to cast (aspersions) on the reputation of the Sudanese foreign ministry in 2003 or the Sudanese intelligence service. Suffice to say the Sudan intelligence service is not the American intelligence service. It’s not the British intelligence service. So I think we have to take the statements of the Sudanese with a certain grain of salt.”

The relative reliability of the Canadian and Sudanese intelligence services is a material point in Abdelrazik’s case.

A Federal Court judge, ruling last year on a separate lawsuit filed by Abdelrazik against the RCMP, stated CSIS was “complicit” in his detention.

The Security Intelligence Review Committee investigated CSIS’s handling of the case in 2013 and found the spy service based its threat assessment of Abdelrazik on “incorrect and exaggerated information.”

The watchdog said it did not find evidence that CSIS “ever directly requested or recommended” that the suspect “be detained should he leave Canada,” but qualified its assessment by underlining that other government departments — outside of its mandate — might have other information.

Former minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said the documents show the spy service overstepped its bounds. He’s calling on the RCMP to weigh in.

“There should absolutely be an investigation to determine whether there’s been criminal infractions there,” said Neve.

With the lawsuit ongoing, CSIS and the departments of Justice and Public Safety are declining comment.

The court documents reveal inconsistent timelines on when CSIS learned of Abdelrazik’s arrest.

A heavily redacted CSIS memo said it was “verbally informed” on Sept. 11, 2003, hours after the detention. Three months later, however, a CSIS official insisted to Foreign Affairs that “the Service did not learn of his arrest until the following day.”

CSIS pitched hard to convince diplomats that the suspected al-Qaeda operative should remain in custody, even though it was unable to offer evidence that would satisfy either a Canadian or Sudanese court.

“Abdelrazik is one of Canada’s most dangerous and violence-prone Sunni Islamic extremists,” wrote a CSIS operative whose name was withheld. “Our primary concern should Abdelrazik be released is the virtual certainty that he will resume serious threat-related activities in Canada or elsewhere.”

Almost a year after the arrest, diplomats were dismayed to find their appeals to the Sudanese government were being clandestinely undermined.

‘We felt CSIS went behind our backs’

“According to [redacted], the Canadian Office in Khartoum is contradicting information they received from the Canadian Security Service,” said a June 22, 2004, Foreign Affairs briefing note.

A Foreign Affairs “officer was told by at least two government officials that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has been communicating with them about the case and are giving them instructions on what to do with Abousfian (Abdelrazik) and the Canadian Office keeps pressuring them to make a decision with regards to the judicial process in place.”

Livermore said he wonders whether CSIS lied in order to disrupt efforts to help Abdelrazik.

“There were portions of this case where we had inadequate information from CSIS, portions of this case where we felt CSIS went behind our backs to take actions that we didn’t agree with,” he said. “But trying to put names to actions, trying to put exact dates to these actions, is extremely difficult absent documentary evidence.”

One fact was abundantly clear: the Americans wanted the Sudanese-Canadian off the streets in 2003.

Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve says he wants the RCMP to investigate whether CSIS interfered in diplomatic efforts to secure Abdelrazik’s release. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

“Our belief, and it’s a belief I still harbour, is that it was the CIA that solicited Abdelrazik’s detention from the Sudanese authorities, possibly suggesting that they were acting on behalf of CSIS. But the facts of the case are still to this day pretty murky,” Livermore said.

There was a sense among diplomats by 2008 that they had been run over by their CSIS colleagues in the Abdelrazik case, the documents reveal.

“I was very uncomfortable with our [Foreign Affairs Department] position on this case (being) heavily influenced by other Canadian government agencies, which was to offer the subject all possible assistance short of real help in returning to Canada,” wrote David Malone, a senior official at Foreign Affairs, on May 1, 2008.

“As to the Sudanese authorities, I do remember them seeming amused with our serial hypocrisies in this regard.”

Abdelrazik was in Sudanese custody twice.

After his release, he lived with family in Sudan but was unable to fly home to Montreal because the U.S. had placed him on a no-fly list and designated him a terrorist.

Those classifications have now been removed. He returned to Montreal in 2009.

For almost three years in Sudan following his release from detention, he had very little income and subsisted on handouts of emergency funds from the Canadian embassy.

The documents show that in 2008, officials in Ottawa debated whether to ask him to repay $6,607.76 in discretionary funds given to him.

Trudeau meeting the Queen, talking trade and war with PM May

Prime Minster Justin Trudeau will meet with Queen Elizabeth for the third time on Wednesday.

Trudeau’s audience with the Queen will take place at Buckingham Palace. While the first few moments of their discussion will be captured, cameras are not permitted into the Queen’s apartment to record the entire conversation. That talk is private.

Trudeau’s first meeting with the monarch took place at Buckingham Palace shortly after Trudeau took office in 2015. His second private meeting was at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, the Queen’s official Scottish residence.

Officials say Trudeau wants to reassure U.K. businesses that the Canadian government is prioritizing a free trade agreement with Britain.

In 2017, Canada and the U.K. had over $26.5 billion in two-way merchandise trade, making the U.K. Canada’s fifth largest merchandise trade partner.

Officials say Canada is willing to open formal trade negotiations with the U.K. the “day after” Brexit closes next March.

The Canadian government plans to use the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe as the blueprint for any new deal between Canada the U.K.

May and Trudeau are also expected to discuss the recent military strikes in Syria and ramped-up diplomatic tensions with Russia.

Canada expelled four Russian diplomats and rejected the credentials of three others in response to a nerve gas agent attack in Salisbury, U.K. that has been widely blamed on the Russians.

Trudeau is expected to start the day Wednesday at London City Hall, where he’ll meet with Mayor Sadiq Khan. Trudeau will later take part in a discussion with youth from a local high school and mark the centenary of women obtaining the right to vote in the U.K.

On Thursday, Trudeau will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) summit. The 53 Commonwealth nations meet every two years. This year’s discussions will centre on four themes: fairness, prosperity, security and sustainability. 

1 dead after Southwest Airlines jet with damaged engine makes emergency landing

A Southwest Airlines jet blew an engine at 32,000 feet and got hit by shrapnel that smashed a window, setting off a desperate scramble by passengers to save a woman from getting sucked out. One person died and seven others were injured.

The pilot of the twin-engine Boeing 737, bound from New York to Dallas with 149 people aboard, took it into a rapid descent and made an emergency landing in Philadelphia as passengers using oxygen masks that dropped from the ceiling said their prayers and braced for impact.

Travellers said fellow passengers dragged the unidentified woman back in as the sudden decompression of the cabin pulled her part way through the opening.

The dead woman was identified as Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two from Albuquerque, N.M., who worked as an executive for Wells Fargo bank in community relations. 

Marty Martinez, one of the passengers, told CBC’s As It Happens that he knew they were in trouble after hearing a boom and seeing the oxygen masks deploy.

A photo posted to the account of Marty Martinez, left, shows passengers preparing for the emergency landing. (Marty Martinez/Facebook)

He said one of the windows exploded and “there was a lot of wind coming in.”

The woman in the seat near the window was unconscious and she was “almost flailing out of the window.”

He said “everyone was screaming” as people scrambled to try and help.

“I’ll never forget the look on the flight attendant’s face.”

Martinez, who captured some of the chaos in a Facebook Live, told As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner he used the social media tool in a frantic bid to try and reach out to family and friends.

Martinez, who offered condolences to the family of the passenger who died, said he’s still in a state of shock.

“Any of us could have sat in that seat,” Martinez said. 

Another passenger, Alfred Tumlinson, of Corpus Christi, Texas, said a man in a cowboy hat rushed forward a few rows “to grab that lady to pull her back in. She was out of the plane. He couldn’t do it by himself so another gentleman came over and helped to get her back in the plane and they got her.”

In a recording of conversations between the cockpit and air traffic controllers, an unidentified crew member reported: “We have a part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” She also said that there was a hole in the plane and that she was told “someone went out.”

Passengers commended one of the pilots for her cool-headed handling of the emergency. She walked through the aisle and talked with passengers to make sure they were OK after the plane touched down.

Investigation launched

U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Robert Sumwalt said one person died, but he gave no details. It was the first passenger fatality in an accident involving a U.S. airline since 2009.

Southwest said it is co-operating fully with the NTSB investigation.

Gary Kelly, the company’s CEO, offered condolences to the loved ones of the deceased passenger.

A photo taken by a passenger on the Southwest flight shows some of the external damage. (Marty Martinez/Facebook)

“They are our immediate and primary concern, and we will do all that we can to support them during this difficult time and the difficult days ahead,” he said in a video statement posted online late Tuesday afternoon, calling the death a “tragic loss.”

The death marks Southwest’s first in-flight fatality, Kelly said.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday evening, Kelly said he has reached out to the family of the passenger who died but has not yet made contact with them. 

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said there was a fuel leak in the engine when firefighters arrived and a small fire was quickly brought under control. After the plane landed, a woman was hospitalized in critical condition, and seven others were treated for minor injuries, authorities said.

Twelve other passengers were assessed, with seven of those being treated on the scene for minor injuries, local officials said.

It was too early to tell exactly what had happened, but that there was some damage to the plane’s fuselage and wings, the local officials said.

Emergency personnel monitor the damaged engine of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, which diverted to the Philadelphia International Airport this morning after the airline crew reported damage to one of the aircraft’s engines, on a runway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S. April 17, 2018. (Mark Makela/Reuters)

The NTSB is sent a team to Philadelphia to investigate and begin an immediate inspection of the engine and fuselage. The engine will eventually be moved off site so investigators can do a detailed teardown.

Sumwalt told a news conference Tuesday evening that a preliminary investigation showed an engine fan blade was missing, having apparently broken off, and that there was metal fatigue where it normally would be attached.

“It is very unusual so we are taking this event extremely seriously,” Sumwalt said. “This should not happen and we want to find out why it happened so that preventative measures can be put in place.” He said the investigation could take 12 to 15 months to complete.

Sumwalt said part of the engine’s covering was found in Bernville, Pa., about 113 kilometres from the Philadelphia airport.

Earlier in the day, the Philadelphia airport tweeted that Flight 1380 “landed safely at PHL and passengers are being brought into the terminal.” No other details were given.

The Federal Aviation Administration said that the plane landed after the crew reported damage to one of the plane’s engines, along with the fuselage and at least one window.

After the plane landed, Martinez posted photos of a damaged window near the engine.

News helicopter footage showed damage to the left engine and the tarmac covered with firefighting foam, although there were no signs of flames or smoke.

Tracking data from FlightAware.com shows the flight was heading west over New York’s southern tier when it abruptly turned toward Philadelphia.

The explosion blew open a plane window, as detailed by a passenger (Reuters)

Southwest has about 700 planes, all of them 737s, including more than 500 737-700s like the one involved in Tuesday’s emergency landing.

It is the world’s largest operator of 737s. The Boeing 737 is the best-selling jetliner in the world and has a good safety record.

Investigators are likely to take apart the failed engine from Tuesday’s plane and examine maintenance records as they try to piece together the cause of the explosion.

Meanwhile, the company that made the engine says it is helping investigators figure out what went wrong.

CFM International said in a statement Tuesday that it sent technical experts to help the NTSB. CFM is a joint venture of General Electric and France’s Safran.

The company says that type of engine is installed on more than 6,700 planes and has flown more than 350 million hours since its introduction in 1997. The engine has an outstanding safety and reliability record, the company said.

The engine failure was reminiscent of a similar event on a Southwest Boeing 737-700 jet in August 2016 as it flew from New Orleans to Orlando, Fla.

Shrapnel from the engine left a hole 12 by 40 centimetres just above the wing. Passenger oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. Pilots landed the plane safely in Pensacola, Fla.

Investigators with the NTSB said one of the engine’s fan blades broke off from the hub during the flight. The broken edge of the blade showed crack lines consistent with metal fatigue.

Sri Lankan family of Bruce McArthur’s latest alleged victim thought he was in hiding

The Sri Lankan family of Bruce McArthur’s latest alleged victim did not report him missing because they thought he was in hiding after the Canadian government rejected his refugee application.

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37, came to Canada in 2010 as one of 492 Sri Lankans seeking asylum aboard the MV Sun Sea.

McArthur, 66, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kanagaratnam, on Monday. The alleged serial killer is already facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of seven other men, all of whom had ties to Toronto’s Gay Village.

In an emotional interview in Tamil, Kanagaratnam’s mother and cousin told CBC Toronto the family has been reeling from the news since a cousin in the Greater Toronto Area phoned to tell them of Kanagaratnam’s death on Friday.

“We’ve been looking for him for two years,” said Suthakaran Thanigasalam, Kanagaratnam’s cousin.

“We need to know what happened to him. Why did it happen? We need to know when he died.”

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam’s mother, Santhanaladchumy Kanagaratnam, left, and cousin, Suthakaran Thanigasalam, right, talk to a CBC reporter from Sri Lanka. (Viber)

In December, a family member wrote a Facebook post looking for Kanagaratnam who they said was living in Canada.

Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga confirmed police have seen the post. But he would not comment on what police think happened to Kanagaratnam, only that investigators have evidence linking him to Toronto as late as 2014. 

We need to know what happened to him. Why did it happen? We need to know when he died.– Suthakaran Thanigasalam, victim’s cousin

Police previously released a photo of Kanagaratnam, deceased, a move Idsinga described as a “last resort” to figure out who he was.

Thanigasalam, and Kanagaratnam’s mother, Santhanaladchumy Kanagaratnam, say the family knew he was in Toronto and last spoke to him in late August 2015.

Daily calls stop coming

The two say Kanagaratnam used to phone daily, but then the calls stopped coming and when they tried to call him his phone wasn’t working.

“That’s when we started to worry,” said Thanigasalam. “I called everybody here and asked if they had a contact for him … I don’t know who to ask, who to talk to, I don’t know anything.”

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam and his mother Santhanaladchumy Kanagaratnam. She says her son ‘didn’t have any bad habits.’ (Suthakaran Thanigasalam)

At a news conference on Monday, Idsinga said he believes Kanagaratnam was killed between early September and mid-December 2015.

Police said Kanagaratnam’s remains were found in a garden planter at a home on Mallory Crescent, in northeast Toronto, where McArthur worked as a landscaper.

The remains of at least seven men, including Kanagaratnam, were found on the property.

On Tuesday, Idsinga said investigators still plan to search nearly 100 other properties once the ground thaws, including some with planters.

Thanigasalam said the family never tried to file a missing person’s report because they were scared Kanagaratnam would be caught by the Canadian government and sent back to Sri Lanka.

Brother fatally shot in Sri Lanka

“His brother was shot and killed, so there’s no one to look after his mother,” Thanigasalam told CBC Toronto. “He’s the only responsible one. He has no choice, he has to look after his family, that’s why he came to Canada.”

The cousin said Kanagaratnam was the fourth of six children in his family. His youngest brother was killed in 2007 during the armed conflict between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil fighters.

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam was the fourth of six children in his family. (Suthakaran Thanigasalam)

Unlike many of McArthur’s other alleged victims, police have no evidence linking Kanagaratnam to the Gay Village. Police are still trying to figure out how he met McArthur.

The victim’s mother and cousin told CBC Toronto he never told them about any friends he might have in Canada, and they have no idea how he might have known McArthur.

Kanagaratnam sent money home

Kanagaratnam’s mother said he “didn’t have any bad habits” and used to send money home from Canada. At one point when he didn’t have a job, she said he found work moving furniture for people.

Since they last heard from Kanagaratnam, Thanigasalam said the family in Sri Lanka has been struggling.

“His mother she had a small street stall,” said Thanigasalam. “For two years that’s how she survived.”

I’m just in sadness without knowing what’s going on.– Santhanaladchumy Kanagaratnam, victim’s mother

Now the family is left wondering when Kanagaratnam’s body will be coming home.

Police told CBC Toronto there’s no timeline for when any of the victims families will get the remains of their loved ones back. The decision is up to the coroner’s office.

“I’m just in sadness without knowing what’s going on,” said Kanagaratnam’s mother, through tears.

“Where is my baby?”