True North Initiative News Scan 01 17 2018

TOP STORIES

Justin Trudeau Says 2015's Sunny Promises Will Take Canada Through 2018's Storms

Justin Trudeau sees dark clouds on the political horizon: severe weather and income inequality begetting forced migration and a growing strain to feed the dispossessed, as well as the ever-present threats of terrorism and nuclear annihilation. But halfway through his mandate, the prime minister remains steadfastly confident that the agenda that won him power in 2015 — his "progressive approach" to global affairs, income disparity, globalization angst and populism — will be enough to carry Canadians to a brighter future. (Huffington Post)

Liberals miss deadline to resettle ISIS victims

The federal government missed its target to resettle 1,200 survivors of the ISIS campaign to target religious minorities in northern Iraq because of an extended airport closure in the region, CBC News reported Tuesday. According to figures provided to CBC News from Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada (IRCC), the department has issued just over 1,200 visas to government-sponsored survivors, but as of Dec. 31, 2017, only 981 had arrived in Canada, 81 per cent of them Yazidi. (Radio Canada)

Hassan Diab, Canadian university professor once charged with terrorism in France, is back in Canada

Canadian university professor Hassan Diab is back home in Ottawa after a nine-year ordeal that included three years in a French prison on terrorism charges. Canadian officials in Paris issued Diab travel documents as he did not have a valid Canadian passport. Diab was extradited from Canada three years ago after a prolonged legal battle against extradition. French prosecutors had linked him to a 1980 synagogue bombing that killed three people. Diab was released from prison after authorities in France dropped terrorism charges against him due to lack of evidence. (Yahoo)

Crown misleading Appeal Court, acquitted Canada Day terror plotters say

Federal prosecutors are trying to bamboozle the B.C. Court of Appeal to win a new trial against the Surrey couple acquitted of the 2013 Canada Day terror plot, their lawyers insist. In their response to Crown arguments Tuesday, the legal team for John Nuttall and Amanda Korody said prosecutors were relying on a “cherry-picked basket of tidbits” — facts, phrases and comments — taken out of context, some wrong but “baldly asserted,” to indict B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce for committing palpable and over-riding errors in her July 2016 decision. (Vancouver Sun)

Bank of Canada expected to hike key interest rate to highest level since 2009

The Bank of Canada is widely expected to hike its benchmark interest rate for the third time in a year this morning.  After staying on the sidelines for the better part of a decade following the financial crisis, Canada's central bank raised its key interest rate twice last year, to one per cent. The bank's rate is important because it filters down to affect the rates that Canadians get from banks and other lenders for things like mortgages, GICs and savings accounts. (CBC)

Liberal MPs urge dropping criminal penalties for all illicit drug use

Even as Justin Trudeau prepares to deliver on his promise to legalize recreational marijuana, Liberal MPs are pushing the government to eliminate criminal penalties for simple possession and consumption of all illicit drugs. The prime minister has so far drawn the line at pot legalization, but he’s now being pressured to go much further in a resolution developed by the national Liberal caucus for consideration at the federal party’s national policy convention in April in Halifax. (Toronto Star)

Anti-abortion activities not eligible for revamped youth service program

Activities and projects that are considered to be anti-abortion will be ineligible for funding as part of Canada’s revamped national youth volunteer program. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the first phase of the new Canada Service Corps program during a live Instagram video Tuesday, calling it an exciting opportunity to get young Canadians engaged in their country and community. (National Post)

US Media Finally Notices How Justin Trudeau Punishes Pro-Life Movement

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s routinely offends pro-lifers in his own country, but now U.S. media outlets are noticing just how severely Trudeau has sidelined people who don’t support abortion. As The Daily Caller reported on Saturday, Trudeau defended his government’s policy of denying Canada Summer Jobs funding to groups who will not explicitly indicate they support “reproductive rights.” Trudeau not only said pro-life thinking is contrary to Liberal government policy but out of step with Canadian society. (Daily Caller)

US holds back $65m aid to Palestinians

The US is withholding more than half of a $125m (£90m) instalment destined for the UN relief agency for the Palestinians, American officials say. It will provide $60m in aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) but will hold back a further $65m. A UN official said the move would have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people. (BBC)

Iranian Families ‘Deeply Worried’ About Jailed Protesters After String of ‘Suicides’

Radio Farda reported on Tuesday that the families of four Iranian students imprisoned during the government crackdown on a popular uprising are “deeply worried about their loved ones,” as the government is holding them incommunicado and providing no information about their status. (Breitbart)

Iranian Soccer Stadium Chants ‘Death to the Dictator’

Al-Arabiya, a Saudi news outlet that often publishes reports critical of Iran, identifies the location as the Naghsh-e Jahan Stadium in Isfahan, the nation’s second-largest stadium with a capacity of 75,000 people. The stadium typically hosts soccer games. Al-Arabiya suggested that “death to the dictator” was the clearest, but not only, chant against the government in the undated video. (Breitbart)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Abdoul Abdi case: A test of Canada’s commitment to rules and compassion

He was born in Saudi Arabia to a Somali mother, spent four years in a refugee camp in Djibouti, and landed in Canada at the age of six with his sister and two aunts. By seven, child-protection services had taken Mr. Abdi into custody and he became a permanent ward of the state shortly thereafter. He was never adopted and was instead shuffled between 31 placements while "in care," most of which were group homes. His aunt became a Canadian, but was blocked from applying for Mr. Abdi's citizenship because she was no longer his legal guardian. Child-protection services – his legal parent – never applied on his behalf even though he was eligible. (Globe and Mail)

An attacker did not cut her hijab, police say. But why did the TDSB let the tearful 11-year-old face the cameras?

Days after an 11-year-old girl alleged that a man cut her hijab, twice, Toronto police have concluded that the events “did not happen.” In a statement released Monday, the police, who had been investigating the alleged incident involving the Grade 6 student at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School as a hate crime, said the investigation is now concluded. (Toronto Star)

Religious groups meet to discuss concerns over abortion clause in summer jobs grant application

The concern arises out of the Canada Summer Jobs program, which this year comes with a new “attestation” box that all applicants must check off before submitting. The wording of the attestation, which many still find confusing, seems to require a declaration that the applicant does not advocate an anti-abortion position. (Calgary Herald)

Not much wiggle room for Canada to introduce new sanctions against North Korea

Canada may almost be out of options when it comes to developing new sanctions against North Korea. Delegates from 20 countries left yesterday's Vancouver summit pledging to consider new measures against Kim Jong-un's regime. (CBC)

Conservatives gain at Liberals’ expense in new poll

Nanos’ new tracking numbers put the Liberals at 37 per cent support, while the Conservatives are close behind at 33.8 per cent. The NDP has some catching up to do at just 20 per cent support. The Green Party and Bloc Quebecois sit at 4.5 per cent and three per cent, respectively. (IPolitics)

Scheer heads to Washington as part of united front in defence of NAFTA

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is visiting Washington this week to form a united front with the Liberal government and help promote the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He will lead a delegation of Tories who will meet with U.S. officials, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. (Financial Post)

White House selects Montreal Cognitive Assessment for Trump's aptitude test

When the White House released the results of a test on Donald Trump's mental aptitude Tuesday, showing he aced it without signs of cognitive decline, there was one person out there brimming with pride despite not knowing the president. That person was Ziad Nasreddine -- who designed the test. The Lebanese-Canadian neurologist learned from a reporter Tuesday afternoon that the White House had selected the Montreal Cognitive Assessment to test the president's faculties after days of speculation about his state. (CTV)

Trump administration report adds fuel to immigration furor

As the furor continues over President Donald Trump's reportedly vulgar remarks on immigration, the White House added a new element to the public debate over who should be allowed into the United States. On Tuesday, the Trump administration released a 10-page report that highlighted instances in which foreign-born residents were convicted of terrorism-related offences or involved in honour killings and female genital mutilation. The report is part of a long-running effort by the Trump administration to frame the debate over immigration policy as a question of public safety and to portray immigrants and refugees as potential threats. (Globe and Mail)

North Korea rips 'lunatic' Trump as US moves B-52 bombers to Guam

The US Air Force has deployed six nuclear-capable B-52 Stratofortress bombers to Guam, according to US Pacific Air Forces, adding more firepower to the region just hours after North Korean state media mocked President Donald Trump's tweet referencing the size of his nuclear button as the "spasm of a lunatic." B-52 bombers provide additional nuclear and conventional mission capability to a subtly growing American military presence in the region amid ongoing talks between North and South Korea. (CNN)

Ex-CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee held 'for helping China'

A former CIA officer has been arrested in the US on charges of unlawful retention of classified information. Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a naturalised US citizen, was held at New York's JFK airport on Monday, the US justice department said. (BBC)

2017: The Year the News Media Went to War Against a President

The first year of the Trump administration was as turbulent for the news media as it was for politics, with many journalists dropping any pretense of professionalism to become strident opponents of the President. As a proxy for the larger establishment media, the Media Research Center analyzed every moment of coverage of President Trump last year on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, usually seen by more than 25 million people each night. The major findings: (Newsbusters)

Unveiling Iranian pro-government trolls and cyber-warriors

It is noteworthy that the Iranian army of trolls differs from the Russian by its specificity, working methods and its scope of activity. In scope, funding and effectiveness Iranians are far behind their Russian counterparts. But, they don’t stand still and we can see the increase in the activity of Iranian pro-government trolls from year to year. (Alarabiya)

Rouhani’s budget transparency stokes Iran unrest

When President Hassan Rouhani unveiled this year’s budget his intention was to shine a spotlight on state funding for institutions under the influence of his hardline opponents. Instead, his attempt at transparency inadvertently stoked public anger that helped trigger the biggest anti-regime protests in almost a decade. (Financial Times)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Toronto Sun: Learning from the hijab hoax

Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory didn’t say it, we will. The problem with Toronto’s now infamous hijab hoax is that it will make Muslims and others who are actual victims of hate crimes more afraid to come forward for fear of not being believed. And it will make the public more cynical about the reporting of hate crimes. (Toronto Sun)

J.J. McCullough: A phony Islamophobia panic is ruining Canadian politics

During the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq War, back when invading that country was a more popular idea among Canadians than many care to remember, I recall observing an encounter at the bus stop near my house between a group of middle-aged white folks, perhaps three or four of them, and a hijab-wearing Muslim woman. I didn’t see how it began, but everyone was arguing about the war, with the Muslim woman against and everyone else for. No one was making particularly good points, but it was nevertheless obvious, through the white folks’ sneering, dismissive tone, that they regarded the logic of the Muslim woman with far more suspicion than was warranted simply because of who she was. There were no “go-back-to-where-you-came-froms” or anything like that, but it was a visibly tense conversation made all the tenser by one obvious variable. (Washington Post)

Tarek Fatah: Trump doesn't understand the damage he's done

No American president in recent history has faced as many obstacles from day one of his presidency as Donald J. Trump. But it must also be said no other president has inflicted more wounds on himself than The Donald. The American writer Edward Klein, writing in his latest book All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump, gives a credible account of how the Trump presidency was being set up for failure, months before he took his oath of office. (Toronto Sun)

John Ivison has a pint with the PM: This Liberal's not for turning

The problem with the Liberal Party, as articulated by former NDP leader Tommy Douglas, was that it often had a wish-bone where it should have had a back-bone. Yet Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are proving themselves as rigidly dogmatic in their world view as Stephen Harper’s Conservatives ever were. (National Post)

Lorne Gunter: Trudeau's naivete is what really makes him dangerous

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is simply not a serious leader. We learned from former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson’s report into Trudeau’s vacation on the Aga Khan’s tropical island that the PM doesn’t concern himself with the details of governing. He sees his role as a sort of morale officer on the HMCS Sunny Ways. (There will be Yoga for Beginners on the Lido Deck at 4 p.m., followed by Make Your Own Mai Tais!) (Toronto Sun)

Toronto Sun: Liberals, faced with low growth, need to change fiscal priorities

Talk about putting a damper on sunny ways! Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is currently basking in the glow of good Canadian economic data. In the first quarter of this year, the country’s economy averaged impressive 3.7% growth, stronger even than growth south of the border. It’s good and welcome news. (Toronto Sun)

Barbara Kay: Canadians don't need a 'National Day' scolding us for being Islamophobic

The federal government has been asked by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) to declare Jan. 29, the first anniversary of a murderous attack on a Quebec mosque that left six dead and several others injured, a “National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.” (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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