True North Initiative: News Scan 01 13 17

TOP STORIES

Asked about Trump, Trudeau promises to stand for feminism and diversity

While maintaining that his priority in dealing with the Donald Trump administration will be the Canadian economy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday night he would never shy away from proclaiming himself a feminist, defending immigration or extolling the contribution of Muslim Canadians. During a town hall forum in Belleville, Ont., Trudeau was asked about how a Trump presidency would impact Canada's relations with the United States. Trudeau joked that everyone in the audience leaned forward when the question was asked. (CBC) (Bloomberg)

Trudeau took the Aga Khan's private helicopter to island vacation

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed he and his family accepted trips on the Aga Khan's private helicopter during his vacation to the spiritual leader's private island in the Bahamas, which appears to violate a section of the Conflict of Interest Act. "The travel back-and-forth from Nassau to the island happens on the Aga Khan's private helicopter, which he offered us the use of," Trudeau said Thursday. Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson is considering an investigation into Trudeau's vacation, which took place after Christmas. (CBC) (Toronto Star)

Montreal firm targeted in Chinese takeover did research with Canadian government

The Montreal high-tech firm at the centre of a foreign takeover by a Chinese investor that triggered national security concerns in Ottawa once participated in a research project with a Canadian spy agency and has sold equipment to the Department of National Defence. The Trudeau government recently cancelled a Harper cabinet order for Hong Kong-based O-Net Communications to abandon its takeover of Montreal-based ITF Technologies. The Conservatives decided the ITF deal could be “injurious to national security” and tried to unwind it shortly before they lost power. (Globe and Mail)

Ottawa to appoint first resident ambassador to Iraq in 26 years

The Liberal government will appoint a resident ambassador to Iraq in the coming weeks, the first one Canada has had on the ground in Baghdad in nearly 26 years. Sources told The Globe and Mail that naming an ambassador to Iraq is a part of the Liberal government’s retooled strategy to fight the Islamic State announced in February, 2016. It involved tripling the number of Special Forces personnel in Canada’s military assistance mission in Iraq to 207, and a pledge of more than $1.6-billion over the next three years for security, stabilization, humanitarian and development assistance in Iraq and Syria. (Globe and Mail)

Ottawa ends program reuniting Syrian refugees with relatives in Canada

The federal government has quietly cancelled a program that matched private Canadian sponsors with Syrian refugees abroad who have relatives in Canada because of low sponsor turnout. The Syrian Family Links Initiative was discontinued on Dec. 31. While families in Canada had registered more than 8,000 people for the program, only 36 private sponsors applied, for a total of 127 refugees. (Globe and Mail)

Canada Limits New Private Sponsorships Of Syrian Refugees To 1,000

Canada’s immigration office will significantly reduce its intake of certain private sponsorship applications for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to 1,000 for 2017. The move, affecting groups of five and community sponsor applications, was quietly announced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in a news release during the holidays. Officials cite a backlog of active applications and pressure to cut down processing times. (Huffington Post)

Captain of vessel carrying migrants to B.C. didn't break the law, court hears

The captain of a vessel that arrived on British Columbia's shores carrying hundreds of Tamil migrants did not break the law because he was acting on humanitarian grounds by helping his fellow asylum seekers, a court has heard. In closing arguments at a B.C. Supreme Court jury trial on Thursday, Sandy Ross said his client had no intention of piloting the MV Sun Sea when he paid for the trip as a passenger, but "was thrown into the role of captain" after the Thai crew abandoned the vessel. (CBC) (Postmedia)

Seven Canadian soldiers treated at military hospital in Iraq since November

National Defence is refusing to disclose details about several Canadian soldiers treated at a military hospital in northern Iraq in recent weeks, including whether any of them were wounded on the battlefield. The soldiers were among 120 patients who were seen at the medical facility since it began operating near the Kurdish city of Erbil at the end of November, according to figures provided to The Canadian Press. (Canadian Press)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Liberal MPs tweet non-partisan government job ads with party logo

Liberal members of Parliament, including cabinet ministers, advertised non-partisan government jobs on Twitter Thursday using Liberal-Party-branded images. One tweet, from Liberal MP Francesco Sorbara, was retweeted by Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly and the Canadian Heritage department. Others who sent out virtually identical tweets include Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. (Globe and Mail)

History-making Somali-Canadian cabinet minister was aide to McGuinty, uOttawa law student

The country’s first Somali-Canadian cabinet minister might be a Toronto MP, but he had roots in the capital long before he took his seat on Parliament Hill. Ahmed Hussen, the new minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, was an aide to Ottawa South MPP Dalton McGuinty, serving him both as leader of the opposition and premier. (Ottawa Sun)

O'Leary committee sees 'clear path to victory' for Conservative leadership

Kevin O'Leary says an exploratory committee has "identified a path to victory" for him in the race for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. O'Leary, the celebrity investor and chair of O'Leary Financial Group, has been flirting with the possibility of a leadership bid for several months, but has yet to formally throw his hat in the ring as a contender for the job. (CTV)

Friends important for immigrant integration: study

A new study on forming friendships following immigration suggests the first few days are the most important for good integration. The research involved 158 students who had just arrived in Montreal whose mother tongues were neither English nor French. Researchers believe the results would apply to other recent arrivals in the same way. (Radio Canada)

Consider multiple factors to retain newcomers: researcher

Atlantic Canada could see a total of almost 19,000 newcomers a year—of that, 5,500 of them might be making their way to New Brunswick. This estimate appeared as part of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council's [APEC] "report card," on rising immigration numbers in Atlantic Canada, that was released on Thursday. (CBC)

More immigrants coming to Atlantic Canada, but retention rates low: report

More people are immigrating to Atlantic Canada than ever before, but many do not stay, a new report says. The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council report released Thursday said a record 8,300 immigrants arrived in 2015, and yet more the following year. The Halifax-based council said 11,600 immigrants came to Atlantic Canada in the first nine months of 2016, due in part to an influx of Syrian refugees. (Prince George Citizen)

FAQ: Refugee claimants who seek asylum in Canada

"Once a refugee gets into Canada — legally, illegally — and says, 'I'm claiming refugee status,' Canada has an obligation to process that claim and determine if that person is a refugee. Internationally and domestically that's a legal obligation," said Shauna Labman, a law professor at the University of Manitoba who teaches immigration and refugee law. (CBC)

This Syrian family reunited thanks to a unique partnership between a mosque and a synagogue

On December 2015, a Thornhill, Ont., mosque and a synagogue decided to jointly sponsor a Syrian refugee family. Before the project, all they had shared was a parking lot. The chairs of the project acknowledge that their alliance is unique — and would be unlikely to happen elsewhere in the world. (CBC)

Obama ends visa-free path for Cubans who make it to U.S. soil

U.S. President Barack Obama announced Thursday he is ending a longstanding immigration policy that allows any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil to stay and become a legal resident. The repeal of the "wet foot, dry foot" policy is effective immediately. The decision follows months of negotiations focused in part on getting Cuba to agree to take back people who had arrived in the U.S. (CBC)

Iraq's Yazidi community clings to homeland amid genocide

Members of one of the world’s most persecuted religious groups, the Yazidis of northern Iraq, are struggling over whether to leave their ancestral homeland or rebuild their diminished and traumatized community outside the Middle East. Some Yazidi leaders oppose migration and are seeking foreign help to re-establish their community in Iraq’s Sinjar region. Other Yazidi leaders support migration, and various western governments are welcoming them as refugees (Fox News)

Trump’s Tough Stance on Mexican Jobs Could Spur Immigration to U.S.

President-elect Donald Trump's harsh stance on Mexican jobs and immigration could end up backfiring — by prompting more Mexicans to look for work in the United States. Since the Great Recession, improved job prospects in Mexico have prompted a greater number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants moving from the United States back to Mexico than the other way around, immigration data show. Many of those new jobs in Mexico have come about thanks to a rising amount of trade between the two countries since 1994, when NAFTA went into effect. (NBC)

South China Sea: China media warn US over 'confrontation'

Blocking China from islands it has built in contested waters would lead to "devastating confrontation", Chinese state media have warned. The angry response came after secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson said the US should deny Beijing access to new islands in the South China Sea. Two state-run papers carry editorials strongly criticising his comments. The hawkish Global Times tabloid warned that any such action would lead to "a large-scale war". (BBC)

US tanks and troops arrive in Poland

More than 80 tanks and hundreds of armoured vehicles have arrived in Poland, as part of the largest US military reinforcement of Europe in decades. Russia has said it views the move as a threat to its own security. (BBC)

Donald Trump promises report on election hacking

Donald Trump has promised to issue a report within 90 days on allegations of Russian hacking during the US presidential election campaign. In a series of tweets, the president-elect called the claims "made-up facts by sleazebag political operatives". US intelligence agencies have accused Russia of interfering in the election by hacking party communications. (BBC)

CNN at war with Trump over what reporting unleashed

A week before the inauguration, CNN is at war with an incoming president, not necessarily for what it reported but for what its reporting unleashed. For all the noise — accusations of "fake news," the confrontation between Donald Trump and CNN's Jim Acosta at a news conference, false claims about what CNN had reported or linked to — that realization emerged toward the end of a remarkable 25-minute televised confrontation between Anderson Cooper and Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. (Canadian Press)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Michael Den Tandt: Trump-style nativism is an electoral dead end for Canada’s Conservatives

Stephen Harper spent the better part of two decades hammering Preston Manning’s Reform Party into a shape that could be palatable to a plurality of Canadians, in all regions of the country. His crowning political achievement was the Conservative majority victory of May 5, 2011. The Canadian Trumpist movement, led by the charisma-challenged Kellie Leitch, the oleaginous Steven Blaney and soon the trash-talking Kevin O’Leary, is unraveling Harper’s life’s work by the day. The electoral effects promise to be devastating. Curiously, there’s little the party can do to prevent it. (National Post)

Ezra Levant: The new immigration minister is a Somali refugee — who used to talk like Kellie Leitch…

Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet this week. The amazingly clueless John McCallum has been shuffled out as immigration minister — the same McCallum who rushed in tens of thousands of Muslim migrants last year, without any meaningful vetting. In his place, they put Ahmed Hussen — who is, himself, a Somali refugee. Back in 2011, Hussen testified before a U.S. congressional committee, about how to counter the radicalization of Somali youth. (Rebel)

Paul Wells: Should Ottawa be aiming for a ‘moonshot’?

One of the best little rules in Ottawa requires that public opinion research done for the government be made public after it is submitted. When you know what the feds are polling on, it’s a pretty good proxy for knowing what they’re planning. And so we learn that a Halifax firm spent last summer holding focus groups across Canada on a bunch of issues: carbon pricing, Canadian content rules, asbestos. (Toronto Star)

John Ivison: Trudeau should be at action stations, not calling radio stations

Justin Trudeau has enjoyed remarkable good fortune to this point — playing the part of a middle-class everyman, able to preach about the benefits of hard work and saving, without being penalized because his parents did the latter for him. But first there was cash for access and now there is the trip to Bell Island in the Bahamas, as a guest of the Aga Khan. (National Post)

Chris Selley: At Queen’s Park, a vision of Trudeau’s future

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne shuffled her Cabinet slightly on Thursday — of necessity, thanks to the departure of Community Affairs and Correctional Services Minister David Orazietti. It was purely housekeeping. It won’t alter Wynne’s political fortunes. There are nevertheless echoes of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s own, bigger shuffle this week. Orazietti said he left politics for family reasons, but he did so under a big cartoon stink cloud: the revelation that 23-year-old Adam Capayhad been held in solitary confinement awaiting trial for an unconscionable four years, and the minister’s refusal to intervene. (National Post)

Craig Scott: Dion, a great Canadian, dishonoured by Trudeau

What were you, Justin Trudeau, to do when, after winning the October 2015 election, you realized that the presence of a respected former leader of your party, Stéphane Dion, in your cabinet would serve as a constant reminder of progressive positions you’d rather not be reminded about? You know, positions on such small matters as climate change, electoral reform, and handing over detainees to be tortured. (Toronto Star)

Ujjal Dosanjh: Trudeau Should Shuffle His PMO, Too

Beyond that, the Trudeau shuffle is already old news and business as usual, Ottawa-style, is likely to take over in Ottawa. But Trudeau needs another shuffle -- no, not a cabinet shuffle, but a shuffle nonetheless -- to shake up the PMO that has brought him so much grief over the past several months. In his heart of hearts, Trudeau probably knows he needs it. Those in the PMO around him may not yet or ever see the need for one; they may be willfully blind because, if ever the prime minister so decided, it could be some of them who would be next to be shuffled out or dumped. (Huffington Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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