In May 2021, George Young, chief of staff to then-minister of defence Harjit Sajjan, wrote to the Canadian Armed Forces requesting a briefing for Sajjan on “any and all research that has been done by CAF/DND; any sightings that have been reported in recent years; any historical information that may be on file.” “It should/could be expected that the imminent US release of information will prompt questions domestically and with Defence-related implications,” the email says.

Canada has one of the world’s largest proportions of alleged UFO sightings. Roughly 1,000 such sightings are annually phoned in to Ufology Research, the organization operated by Rutkowski since 1989. While the majority of these reports are easily explained as aircraft or astronomical phenomena (such as a passing satellite), there have been a handful of incidents in which credible sightings of unexplained shapes or lights have been recorded by trained pilots.

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One of the most notable is a 2016 incident in which the pilots of an Air Canada Jazz flight over British Columbia reported a “steady red light” that could not be explained. The details of the sighting — which can be viewed on CADORS, a federal government database of civil aviation incidents — have the flight crew witnessing what they believe to be “another aircraft with a steady red light” while on a nighttime flight from Prince Rupert to Vancouver. “No other aircraft was known to be in that vicinity or observed on radar,” it reads.

The CTV briefing note mentions two others.

Just before Christmas, 2018 in Yarmouth, N.S., two witnesses (one on land, the other at sea) saw unexplained lights in the sky. What made the sighting particularly notable was that radar returns from the area showed an unexplained object right around where the two witnesses spotted the lights.

In August 2021, a “bright green flying object” was spotted near Gander, N.L. by two separate aircraft: An RCAF supply flight to Europe and a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight from Boston to the Netherlands. “It flew into a cloud, then disappeared,” reads the CADORS report.

Voices within the Canadian aviation community have previously criticized Ottawa for an apparent lack of curiosity regarding credible UFO reports.

A 2021 investigation by VICE traced the federal response to the 2016 Air Canada Jazz sighting. Despite being called in by Vancouver air traffic controllers as a “vital intelligence sighting,” the federal government’s response seemed to consist of little more than reviewing RCAF radar data and then shelving the report once they couldn’t find anything matching the Air Canada’s pilot’s description. “All I know is I’m not impressed with the level of investigation,” veteran RCAF pilot John Williams told VICE at the time.

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