Michael Bociurkiw

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de diciembre de 2007. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

The strange and unpredictable world of geopolitics played out over the Pacific skies Friday as one commercial jet carrying the just-released daughter of one of China's most prominent tycoons flew westbound while another carrying two Canadians incarcerated in apparent retaliation for her arrest flew in the opposition direction.

The arrangement, in effect a modern-day version of a Cold War prisoner swap, brought an abrupt end to a saga that has severely poisoned relations between Canada and China, cast an unwelcome spotlight on one of China's trophy tech companies, Huawei, and complicated Beijing's public relations efforts to project a happy face with the Winter Olympics less than five months away.…  Seguir leyendo »

In an election few wanted and which ended up as the most expensive in Canadian history, Justin Trudeau, on Monday managed to return his party to the government benches in the House of Commons for the third consecutive time.

He failed to obtain a majority of seats -- forcing him once again to reach across the aisle to opposition parties in order to pass key legislation, and the costly exercise should raise questions about Trudeau's credibility, especially when the Covid-19 crisis remains far from over.

The Liberal Party leader never said he was gunning for a majority, but his opponents -- including his main opponent, Erin O'Toole of the Conservatives -- insisted a wasteful power grab was the objective.…  Seguir leyendo »

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians behind bars in China

In what Canadian officials have described as "arbitrary" decisions, Chinese courts this week have handed down a harsh sentence to Michael Spavor, accused of espionage, and upheld a death sentence for Robert Schellenberg, convicted of drug smuggling in the Asian country in 2018. The decisions come as the extradition trial of the Chinese tech giant Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is entering its final stages in a Vancouver courtroom.

Meng is wanted by the United States on multiple serious charges, including bank fraud and violating US sanctions against Iran by selling telecom equipment. She was arrested in late 2018. Meng and Huawei have denied the allegations.…  Seguir leyendo »

After forcing down a civilian airliner from European skies in May to detain a journalist who was on board, perhaps it was only a matter of time before "Europe's last dictator," Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, would be thrust back into the international spotlight and once again face fresh condemnation for his abhorrent actions.

The regime's trademark thuggery came into focus over the weekend when Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya defected at the Tokyo Olympics after being forcibly scheduled into a race by her country's coaches. Her public protests on social media apparently angered her team's officials and the athlete was ordered back to Minsk but refused to board the flight home, instead opting to request political asylum in a third country.…  Seguir leyendo »

How Justin Trudeau one-upped Joe Biden

Against all odds, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to beat a Covid-19 vaccination benchmark that even his counterpart to the south, US President Joe Biden, was unable to meet.

After initially bungling its Covid-19 vaccine rollout, falling behind many other developed nations, including the United States, over the weekend Canada moved ahead of its southern neighbor in per-capita vaccinations.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) vaccine tracker, as of mid-day Tuesday, 50.8% of Canadians were fully vaccinated. By comparison, just 48.6% of Americans have taken their full dose of vaccines, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the difference for people given at least one dose is even greater: 69.7% and 56.1% respectively).…  Seguir leyendo »

Trying to discern Russian President Vladimir Putin's endgame is always a difficult exercise, particularly given his inclination to upset the status quo -- as he did most recently, in 2014, with the invasion of Crimea and later the Donbas region of Ukraine. But now seems to be as good a time as ever for the Kremlin to test the mettle of President Joe Biden's new administration.

Since March, Russia has been building up its troops along its western border with Ukraine. According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, there are more Russian troops in the region now than in the run-up to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.…  Seguir leyendo »

A year into this global pandemic, we have seen anything but an effective, coordinated approach among nations to address the crisis on a global scale. Amid this backdrop, Tuesday's news that a group of countries is pledging to work together to prevent future pandemics can be regarded only as a positive development for the world.

The so-called pandemic treaty to bring greater international cooperation for public health emergencies has been endorsed by more than 20 world leaders -- but not by the US, China, India and Russia -- in an editorial published in several media outlets and on the World Health Organization (WHO) website on Tuesday.…  Seguir leyendo »

With live fire being deployed on a widespread basis in Myanmar since a military coup on February 1, the generals who seized power have lived up to fears that they would resort to lethal force against their own citizens. Early restraint in the face of peaceful protesters has been replaced with bullets, and security forces have killed more than 50 people to date.

Several victims were killed by shots to the head -- a sign that the troops were shooting to kill as part of their intensifying crackdown that also has included curfews and nightly internet shutdowns, armored vehicles and armed troops on the streets and draconian laws limiting freedom of speech and assembly.…  Seguir leyendo »

With Alexei Navalny back in Russia five months after surviving a poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok, his courageous return presented Russian President Vladimir Putin -- who Navalny believes ordered his killing -- with two choices: allow the high-profile activist to continue to be a thorn in his side or lock him up in the hopes that he fades into obscurity.

We learned Sunday that Putin chose the second option. And the question now is whether Navalny's anti-corruption movement can survive with its incredibly telegenic and social media savvy leader isolated from the frontlines -- especially with factors like pandemic restrictions limiting public gatherings stacked against them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, as the smoke cleared from the shocking pro-Trump mob attack on the US Capitol, America's global reputation as a stable, strong democracy emerged badly damaged. Now, many are questioning whether it can ever regain the moral authority necessary to lead the world's democracies, fledgling or otherwise.

From Beijing to Caracas to Moscow, governments, state-controlled media and online commentators reacted with schadenfreude, accusing Washington of hypocrisy and double standards.

"The United States lost all the rights to pursue the democratic path and lost their rights to impose it on other countries," said an anchor on the state-owned Russia 24 news channel.…  Seguir leyendo »

For someone so adept at kicking the legs out from under his political opponents, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau surprisingly didn't spot a potentially catastrophic political crisis approaching in the rear-view mirror.

Last week, Canadians were exasperated after being told by federal public health officials and then Trudeau that the majority of them are not expected to be vaccinated against the deadly Covid-19 virus until September or even as late as December 2021. This is possibly months after people in other G7 countries that manufacture vaccines are expected to have access -- places such as the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.…  Seguir leyendo »

While the world is preoccupied with the Covid-19 pandemic, the regional conflict in the remote separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is threatening to escalate into a wider war on the doorsteps of Europe and Asia. Saturday's Russia-brokered ceasefire has already crumbled, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov acknowledging Monday that hostilities were continuing.

The violence, which broke out two weeks ago, has killed more than 300 people and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) president Peter Maurer told me that fighting is so intense even staff working close to the contact line had to take shelter frequently.

Nagorno-Karabakh is controlled by ethnic Armenians located in Azerbaijan and both Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, have accused each other of violating the terms of the ceasefire.…  Seguir leyendo »

It seems an awfully long time since Canadians were last lectured by the state on sexual behavior. Just as folks were headed out for Labor Day long weekend frolicking, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, warned fellow citizens to wear a mask while having sex and to avoid kissing people in order to prevent passing along a Covid-19 infection.

Tam, who also serves on a World Health Organization (WHO) international oversight committee, said "sex can be complicated" during the pandemic and that the lowest risk sexual activity during Covid-19 involves "yourself alone."

The stern warning -- echoed again on Tuesday by Dr.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the German government's announcement Wednesday of "unequivocal evidence" that the nerve agent Novichok was used in the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, we are once again reminded how a vacuum in global leadership -- notably, in this instance, the silence of the American President -- can potentially open the way for the world's strongmen to reach for the deadliest means to silence their critics.

German scientists said they found the feared and deadly chemical of mass destruction in Navalny's body, and there are several theories on why the anti-corruption activist (who Putin seems hesitant to mention by name) was targeted.…  Seguir leyendo »

With mass protests erupting in Belarus over a disputed presidential election on Sunday, after which incumbent Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory, the Kremlin must be watching nervously.

Thousands have been arrested in the former Soviet republic and heavily armed Belarusian security forces are on the streets. The leading opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has fled to neighboring Lithuania. Internationally, the reaction has been a mix, from Western governments warning against violent suppression of protesters (the United States, the European Union, NATO and many European neighbors have sounded that alarm) to a congratulatory note from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for Lukashenko to resume stalled integration plans to join Belarus and Russia into one country.…  Seguir leyendo »

First there was the secretive trip to the Bahamas in 2016 when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family rode in a helicopter owned by the Aga Khan, the billionaire and Ismaili Muslim spiritual leader whose organization has received hundreds of millions of dollars in Canadian federal grants to advance its work overseas.

Then, some three years later, the Trudeau government was found to have pressured then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to spare SNC Lavalin, one of Canada's largest engineering companies, from prosecution for bribing Libyan officials in return for lucrative government contracts between 2001 and 2011.

After the Canadian ethics commissioner said Trudeau had violated federal conflict of interest rules, he said, "I assume responsibility for everything that happened in my office."…  Seguir leyendo »

On the 23rd anniversary of their handover to China on Wednesday, supporters of democracy and independence in Hong Kong could be forgiven for feeling they've just awoken to their worst nightmare.

Overnight, and with no consultation, Hong Kong essentially became a legal and security jurisdiction of China, denying its citizens the 27 more years of semi-autonomy Beijing had promised under the "one country, two systems" model that was to have been in effect until 2047.

A new national security law -- dubbed the "anti-protest law" -- was rubber stamped by the National People's Congress in May and signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.…  Seguir leyendo »

The World Health Assembly (WHA) -- the biggest event on the global health agenda -- held on Monday and Tuesday this week, can be easily summed up: The Trump administration threatened to take the UN agency off life support as it fights a global pandemic -- and Chinese President Xi Jinping threw it a new life line.

Xi -- widely criticized for his government's failure to sound the alarm over the situation in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus outbreak began -- was able to manipulate the 73rd WHA into a much-needed PR makeover for China. Meanwhile, the United States walked away, threatening to pull funding and membership from the World Health Organization (WHO) -- potentially hobbling its ability to deliver a robust response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

It came as close as possible to Canada's Sandy Hook tragedy. On April 18, an unhinged man went on a 13-hour rampage in rural Nova Scotia and killed 22 people, including a veteran Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer. It was the worst mass killing in Canadian history and shocked an already traumatized nation dealing with the Covid-19 lockdown.

Last Friday, in response to the shooting, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a sombre voice that has become habitual in his daily Covid-19 briefings, said: "Thirty years from now, an entire generation of Canadians will remember exactly where they were on Sunday, April 18, 2020.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the span of just a few days, autocrats around the world, using the cover of the Covid-19 outbreak, have reached for shockingly devious powers to take on extraordinary new powers. We are not talking about logical containment steps, such as the ordering of social distancing, lockdowns or contact tracing.

Think power grabs along the lines of tightening internet access, expelling a foreign journalist for her reporting on coronavirus and taking down digital content under false pretenses.

As former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said after the 2008 financial crisis: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.…  Seguir leyendo »