True North Initiative News Scan 01 19 2018

TOP STORIES

Haitians Flow Into Canada From The U.S. Amid Renewed Deportation Fears

More than 18,000 people filed asylum claims in Canada last year, with up to 250 people per day entering the country at one point last summer. Since then those numbers have dwindled, but the Trump administration's decision to rescind temporary protected status for nearly 60,000 Haitians in November has prompted a new surge of asylum seekers in Canada. (NPR)

Members of Storm Alliance attend Trudeau's town hall in Quebec City

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau swung into Quebec City for the second leg of his cross-country town hall tour Thursday, fielding questions on the state of Canada's immigration system and how to combat racism as members of a far-right group looked on. In the crowd at École secondaire De Rochebelle were about 10 members of the Storm Alliance — a group that identifies as "ultranationalist" but which claims to eschew ties to far-right white nationalists. (CBC)

Montreal mother's odyssey to rescue daughter from ISIS pays off

A Montreal mother said she is relieved her daughter is finally safe from ISIS, even though she will most likely face terrorism charges when she returns to Canada. The young woman, known as Amina, not her real name, left Canada in November 2014 at the age of 18, entered Syria and signed up with ISIS. She married a foreign fighter from Germany and in the years since, she has given birth to two children in war-torn Syria. (CBC) (Metro)

Canadian, U.S. hostages in 'good spirits' and kidnappers have demanded ransom: Nigerian police

Two Canadians and two Americans being held hostage in Nigeria are together and in “good spirits,” a state police official said Thursday, confirming that their captors had issued a ransom demand. Agyole Abbeh, the commissioner of police in the state of Kaduna, where the ambush occurred, told the National Post by phone that police were working with the Nigerian army, security specialists, the hostages’ respective governments, and their employers to secure their release. (National Post)

NAFTA uncertainty could be pausing business investment in Canada: Morneau

Bill Morneau says he understands the uncertainty surrounding NAFTA might be causing some companies to hesitate in making investment decisions. The federal finance minister made the comments today when asked about the Bank of Canada's warning this week that elevated uncertainty over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement would drive down investment in Canada. Central bank governor Stephen Poloz says companies are becoming increasingly concerned about the unknowns of the ongoing NAFTA talks. (CTV)

Canada to reconsider Extradition Act in wake of Diab case

Upon his return to Canada, Hassan Diab could not have been clearer; he doesn't want "a penny" of compensation, "not even to buy a cup of coffee." Instead, the former university professor said, "my main mission for the time being is to help get rid of the existing — I call it lousy — extradition law." Wednesday the Liberal government hinted that changes to that law could be coming. (CBC)

Liberals attempt to calm fears of faith-based groups over summer jobs program

Faith-based organizations are welcome to seek federal funding to create summer jobs for youth, the Liberal government says, but it has not budged from a new requirement that recipients demonstrate they respect a woman’s right to have an abortion. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he is willing to work with churches and other religious groups that have expressed their concerns over the new application process for the Canada Summer Jobs program, which requires applicants to attest that neither their core mandate nor the job itself oppose human rights, including those related to abortion, sexual orientation and gender identity. (Global)

Iranian protester who died in custody 'was forced to take pills'

An Iranian protester who died in custody was forced to take pills that made him sick, his family have claimed, as secrecy shrouds the similar deaths of other prisoners. Little is known about the circumstances leading to the death of at least five protesters rounded up in mass arrests during Iran’s largest protests in nearly a decade. (Guardian)

Al-Qaida moves in to recruit from Islamic State and its affiliates

Al-Qaida has been trying to win over extremists from Islamic State, while the Isis “caliphate” collapses amid heavy losses of men, material, territory and prestige. The recruitment campaign started last summer, even before Isis had lost its final strongholds, underlining the importance al-Qaida attach to winning over fighters and resources from its rivals. (Guardian)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Notley slams UCP tax plan, says Kenney thinks Robin Hood is a 'scary movie'

Premier Rachel Notley says Opposition Leader Jason Kenney is pitching policies so advantageous to the rich and so punishing to the poor that he must think Robin Hood is a terrifying cautionary tale. (Calgary Herald)

Alberta unlikely to reach Canada's climate change targets

While Alberta expects to see greenhouse gas emissions reduced by its climate change policies, the province is likely to fall well short of reaching Canada’s emissions targets even under the best-case scenario for its initiatives, according to the province’s latest progress report. In December, the NDP government quietly released the 2016-17 progress report on its sweeping climate leadership plan, which includes a broad-based carbon tax, an accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power, a cap on oilsands emissions and significant cuts to methane emissions. (Calgary Sun)

RCMP spent more than $1 million on Victoria terror probe

The RCMP spent more than $1 million on an undercover investigation into the B.C. couple accused of plotting to detonate pressure cooker bombs on the lawns of the legislature on Canada day in 2013, according to documents obtained by the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA). The latest figure adds just over $90,000 to a previous tally, which found the force spent just over $911,090 in overtime pay over the course of the five-month investigation. (Yahoo)

World’s opinion of U.S. hits new low under Trump — especially in Canada: poll

A new global survey suggests the world’s impression of the United States is plummeting under President Donald Trump, with Canada registering the largest such decline of any country within the Western Hemisphere. The Gallup polling company registered the worst annual score for the U.S. since it began doing annual global leadership surveys in 2007 – with approval of U.S. leadership down nearly 20 points in one year, now languishing at 30 per cent worldwide. (Global)

NAFTA: As big decisions approach, ministers to attend longer-than-expected round

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, American counterpart Robert Lighthizer and Mexico’s Ildefonso Guajardo will be on hand Jan. 29 for the closing of the latest round, which was originally scheduled to take place Jan. 23-28 but will now get underway Jan. 21. (Financial Post

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here's how

In one of several testy exchanges during a U.S. Senate hearing this week, the country's secretary of homeland security was pressed to explain a new policy that allows customs agents to examine the cellphones of travellers at the border. "I want to make sure I understand this. I live an hour's drive from the Canadian border," said Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy. "If I go to Canada and visit some of my wife's relatives, and I come back ... they (can) say, 'We want your laptop and your phone and your pass code.' And I say, 'Well, do you have any reason?' They say, 'We don't need one.' Is that correct? They can do that?" (CTV)

'Into the abyss': Immigration lawyers baffled over why spousal sponsorship applications sent back

The federal government has made family reunification a priority. It created a “triage” processing system which came into effect in December 2016 to reduce wait times and said it was committed to processing 80 per cent of the applications it received as of Dec. 7, 2016, by the end of December 2017. But lawyers in Ottawa say some packages have come back with scant explanation of what’s wrong or missing — typically an item highlighted on a checklist of documents and a form letter, with no explanation of the exact problem. It forces the applicant to re-apply, which keeps families apart and prevents spouses from being able to accept or keep jobs, they say. (Ottawa Citizen)

With Turkey preparing for war, the U.S. has backtracked on its Kurdish border force

he Trump administration is backtracking on its description of a planned new security force in northeastern Syria amid escalating threats by Turkey to launch a cross-border assault against the Kurdish group involved. U.S. officials had originally described it as a “Border Security Force” that would guard the perimeter of the self-proclaimed Kurdish enclave taking shape in northeastern Syria. (National Post)

California torture house: 13 siblings allowed to eat once a day, shower once a year

The 13 starving siblings held captive in a California house hardly ever saw the sun and were allowed, a prosecutor said Thursday, to eat only one rationed meal a day and shower just once a year. They were allegedly beaten, choked and shackled to their beds with no access to a bathroom for months at a time for supposed offenses like "playing with water" when they washed their hands. (NBC)

Israeli Analyst Believes the Second Wave of Iranian Protests is 'Inevitable'

The recent wave of protests in Iran came as a total surprise for intelligence analysts, Israeli political analyst Avigdor Eskin told Sputnik, denouncing the assumption of external involvement in the unrest as groundless. The analyst opined that Iranian society is divided, suggesting that protests could resume. (Sputnik)

Iran: Two Other Youths Detained in the Uprising Were Killed Under the Torture

Killing under torture in prison is unquestionably an example of crime against humanity. The Iranian Resistance calls on the UN Security Council and the member states, and on all international human rights advocates to take decisive measures against these crimes and calls on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate the situation of prisons and unconditional release of recent detainees. (NCR-IRAN)

Iranian spies in Germany targeted Israel embassy, Jewish kindergartens — report

The German journalist who first reported raids by local security forces at the homes of suspected Iranian spies across Germany supplied new details Wednesday about the Israeli and Jewish targets allegedly monitored by the suspects. Josef Hufelschulte, of the weekly German-language magazine FOCUS, told Israeli public broadcaster Kan that the suspected spies had been gathering information on the Israeli embassy in Berlin, as well as on targets related to the local Jewish community, including kindergartens. (Times of Israel)

California cities prepare for alleged ICE sweeps

Fear is growing in immigrant communities that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is getting ready to launch massive raids across California — a threat that activists and politicians say is retaliation against the Golden State’s bold “sanctuary” policies. (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

‘We will prosecute’ employers who help immigration sweeps, California AG says

The state’s top cop issued a warning to California employers Thursday that businesses face legal repercussions, including fines up to $10,000, if they assist federal immigration authorities with a potential widespread immigration crackdown. “It’s important, given these rumors that are out there, to let people know – more specifically today, employers – that if they voluntarily start giving up information about their employees or access to their employees in ways that contradict our new California laws, they subject themselves to actions by my office,” state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a news conference. “We will prosecute those who violate the law.” (Sacramento Bee)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Stay vigilant about Sharia in Canada

Jihadist terrorists seek to destabilize our society through acts of war; meanwhile non-violent Islamists — driven by the same dogmatic ideology — work to quietly advance their cause and spread the doctrine of political Islam across the West. Examples of Islamist practices seeping into our society are all around us, and perhaps the most concerning is the encroachment of Sharia Law.  What exactly is Sharia? It’s a set of guidelines and religious rules, stemming from the Islamic Quran and Hadith that guide Muslims and command an overall way of life. It’s more than just a legal system; Sharia dictates both the private moral teachings of the Islamic faith as well as strict public rules that all Muslims are commanded to live by. (Toronto Sun)

Lorne Gunter: Pipeline lifeline coming from U.S., with or without NDP help

Fascinating, isn’t it, that the only pipeline getting built is the only one that doesn’t need the Alberta NDP’s “social licence.” On Thursday, TransCanada announced it had signed enough long-term contracts for energy shipments through its Keystone XL pipeline that the project will commence construction next year. Not a single element from the New Democrats’ climate leadership plan – not their carbon tax, oilsands emissions cap, their shuttering of coal-fired power plants nor their new emission regulations on big businesses – played any part in Keystone’s approval. (Edmonton Sun)

Ted Cruz: Time to put Kim Jong-un on his heels

President Donald Trump’s November decision to designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism – in response to legislation I introduced that passed in Congress last year – was more than just a symbolic move. The administration has not only plugged holes in America’s sanctions regime against Pyongyang, but it has also established a decisive break from the policy failures of past administrations. It’s now time to seize the initiative, put Kim Jong-un on his heels and set conditions on America’s terms. (Toronto Sun)

Don Martin: Is Trudeau playing politics with pro-choice funding stance?

When Justin Trudeau decreed in 2014 that all candidates for his Liberal party had to be pro-choice, one of his anti-abortion MPs labelled it a bozo eruption. There is an eruption echo sounding now in a move which is being widely perceived as the prime minister going beyond his party to impose Liberal morality on the nation as an intrinsic Canadian value. (CTV)

Don Braid: Can Jason Kenney spark an anti-Ottawa revolt in 2018?

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney often comes across as Alberta’s youngest old man. He evokes the past, mainly the Ralph Klein years, while crying for anti-Ottawa battles we haven’t seen since the great energy and constitutional conflicts of the 1980s. On Wednesday, Kenney’s party stated it clearly in a release: (National Post)

John Ibbitson: Liberals must remember their values aren't the only ones that count

Thousands of student summer-job grants, along with a brand-new community-service program, have been rendered unavailable to organizations and people of faith, thanks to an obnoxious new Liberal values oath. This oath is not only offensive; on its face, it's a clear violation of the very Charter rights that it claims to defend. The Liberals say they will work with churches and other charities to ensure they can still apply for grants. (Globe and Mail)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

 

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