True North Initiative: News Scan 02 01 17

TOP STORIES

No plans to change refugee target in wake of U.S. travel ban: immigration minister

As MPs debate U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban in the House of Commons, Canada has already confirmed it will not hike its refugee intake target in the wake of a contentious immigration and travel crackdown in the U.S., says Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen. Under pressure by the NDP, human rights groups and refugee lawyers to bring more asylum-seekers to Canada, the minister said Canada's plan will not change in response to an executive order by Trump that suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars entry to nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries. (CBC) (Globe and Mail) (CTV)

RCMP weighing whether to pursue terrorism charges in Quebec City shooting

The RCMP are investigating the Quebec City shooting to determine whether to add terrorism-related counts to the charge sheet, even as politicians of all stripes have branded the mosque attack as a “terrorist” act. The different responses reflect two definitions of terrorism: The legal definition takes an overwhelming burden of proof before being applied by police, prosecutors and ultimately the courts. Politicians and commentators, on the other hand, can apply the term more broadly. As it stands, the lone suspect in the shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec, Alexandre Bissonnette, is facing six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder. (Globe and Mail) (Wall Street Journal)

Stéphane Dion accepts role as ambassador to EU and Germany, as he and John McCallum depart House

In farewell statements to the House of Commons, former foreign affairs minister Stéphane Dion and former immigration minister John McCallum told MPs they are leaving Ottawa to continue serving the public as the respective ambassadors in Europe and China. Dion said he had accepted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's offer to become Canada's "senior diplomat to Europe" by taking on the dual role of ambassador to the European Union and Germany. MP John McCallum also said goodbye to the House as he readies himself to become Canada's ambassador to China. (CBC)

U.S. confirms Canadian dual-citizens not subject to Trump’s travel ban

People with Canadian passports can travel to the U.S. even if they are dual citizens of the seven countries targeted by President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on immigration, the U.S. government said at a Washington press conference Tuesday. “Travellers will be assessed at our border based on the passport they present, not any dual-national status,” said Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “So if you’re a citizen of the United Kingdom, (and) you present your United Kingdom passport, the executive order does not apply to you.” (Metro) (Toronto Star)

'We saw what happened in the airports': Asylum seekers from U.S. surge into Manitoba

The number of refugee claimants scrambling across the Canada-U.S. border, cutting through snowy fields to seek asylum in Manitoba, has soared since Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency, Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council staff say. The recent refugee and his wife flew into Minneapolis 26 days before for a new life and freedom. But when Trump signed an executive order on Friday, putting a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the States and some other Muslim-majority countries, the refugee said he lost hope their applications would ever be accepted. (CBC)

Justin Trudeau accused of letting Donald Trump get away with racism and hatred

Over the past few months, Trudeau has also dodged questions about the president’s sexist and lewd remarks caught on tape, who his preferred presidential candidate was and how Canada was planning to deal if the president follows through on his tough talk on border taxes. Some opposition members are saying Trudeau’s played nice long enough that he needs to stand up for Canadian values and denounce Trump’s recent order. (Global)

Federal budget to include reforms to temporary foreign worker program

The upcoming federal budget will include a new wave of reforms to the temporary foreign worker program as the government pledges to ease entry for high-skilled labour while boosting protections for low-wage workers. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Patty Hajdu, the new Employment Minister, confirmed that the government has approved a package of policy changes that will be released in the budget. “I’m actually chomping at the bit to get some of that news out, but as you know, the budget will be released shortly and many of our actions are tied to the budget,” she said. (Globe and Mail)

Cops pounce after Toronto terror threat

Who knows just how ugly this threatened attack on Toronto and it’s people could have turned out? But just five hours before the heinous Quebec Mosque slaughter, a racially-charged and profane social media threat was promising “bloodshed” Monday at a legendary Toronto landmark and toward the people in it. “We are going to make every front page in the world,” promised an online poster. “The only thing that will get people’s attention is the lives of innocents.” (Toronto Sun)

  

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Trump Immigration Ban Could Send Foreign-Born Tech Workers To Canada

The U.S. tech sector relies heavily on foreign-born talent, and after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that threatened the future of tech employees in that country, some companies are looking to Canada. Trump's order bars refugees, as well as immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen — all Muslim-majority countries, from entering the U.S. A Vancouver immigration lawyer told The Globe and Mail that on the weekend Trump signed the order, he met with a dozen clients, including engineers and PhD students, who were interested in moving to Canada. (Macleans) (Global)

Trump's immigration ban affects 30 UPEI students, says university spokesperson

U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration affects about 30 international students at the University of Prince Edward Island, according to a spokesperson for the school. For the next 90 days, these students cannot travel to the U.S. to visit family or to attend academic conferences, communications officer Dana Kenny told Mainstreet: PEI. Trump signed the executive order last Friday, rendering the U.S. temporarily off limits to people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. (CBC)

Trump travel ban having ‘immediate and profound’ effect Canadian academia

When Aref Bolandnazar flew home to New York 10 days ago after visiting family in Iran, he didn’t think to say a tearful goodbye to his wife – after all, she was just staying an extra week before she was supposed to return to the U.S. But he hasn’t seen his wife since – when Roya Arabloodariche tried to check in on Saturday, she was told she was no longer admissible to the U.S. due to an executive order signed by President Donald Trump. The couple are Iranian citizens who both hold advanced degrees from the University of British Columbia, and who obtained visas to live in New York while Bolandnazar completes his finance and economics PhD at Columbia University. (Macleans)

Canada's Immigration levels should rise as Trump closes door: advocates

As the U.S. slams its doors on refugees, Canada and other nations will have to open their doors wider, advocates are arguing. President Donald Trump’s executive order that banned citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries from travelling to the United States also suspended the U.S. refugee resettlement process for 120 days. Trump also reduced the number of refugees the U.S. will take next year from at least 110,000 down to no more than 50,000, and suspended any refugees from Syria indefinitely. (Metro)

Canadian law professors say U.S. no longer safe for refugees

A group of Canadian law professors is calling on Ottawa to suspend an agreement with the U.S. requiring refugees to seek protection in the first safe country they arrive in, a request prompted by fears of rising hostility towards immigrants and refugees under President Donald Trump. The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement is part of a multi-pronged border co-operation framework designed to help both governments manage asylum claims from individuals arriving in North America. The United States is the only country considered safe by Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Queen’s University professor Sharryn Aiken argues that the U.S. has demonstrated that it is no longer a safe place for refugees following Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering, and discussion of using torture tactics to extract information from terror suspects. (CTV) (Global)

Liberals' U.S. point man says Obama's first directives outnumber Trump's

One of the Trudeau government's top guns on dealing with Donald Trump -- retired general Andrew Leslie -- says former U.S. president Barack Obama issued more executive orders in his first days in power than the current White House occupant. Leslie, who was appointed earlier this month as parliamentary secretary to the foreign minister, offered that piece of U.S. presidential trivia on Tuesday as he evoked the stiff-upper-lip British approach to dealing with adversity. "All of us have to stay calm and carry on. We will make sure that we take care of our interests -- security, trade, a whole host of others -- while defending our values," he said. (CTV)

Canadian values test could equally apply to white supremacists: Leitch

Federal Conservative Party leadership candidate Kellie Leitch says it is “ridiculous” to link her plan to screen immigrants for Canadian values with a deadly attack on a Quebec City mosque, arguing her proposal could equally be applied to white supremacists trying to enter the country. Ms. Leitch was responding to criticisms from fellow leadership contenders and other party members who said her screening idea sows the type of hatred that could have inspired the Quebec City suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, who is accused of murdering six Muslims during evening prayers on Sunday. (Globe and Mail)

Mayor Nenshi calls on feds to allow more refugees in wake of Trump ban

As chaos and confusion swirl around U.S. President Donald Trump’s refugee ban, Calgary’s mayor is asking the Trudeau government to draft specific short- and long-term plans to welcome more refugees across the country. “If the trend in the world right now is to close minds and close borders, then let us buck that trend,” Nenshi said Tuesday at a community event. “These are people in desperate need, that are fleeing violence and terror.” During last year’s resettlement campaign, Canada welcomed close to 39,000 Syrian refugees, about one-third of which were privately sponsored. But due to a growing backlog of applications, the federal government has since created a cap of no more than 1,000 privately-sponsored refugees this year. (Montreal Gazette)

Brad Wall denies inconsistency on refugees after social media criticism

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has denied inconsistency in his position on refugees after Twitter users flagged his previous comments about slowing down the refugee intake in 2015. On Saturday, Wall wrote on Twitter that Saskatchewan would help the federal government assist refugees stranded by the U.S. travel ban. (CBC)

Elizabeth May: Trudeau's Tweet About Refugees Is Hollow Without Action

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's weekend tweet suggesting Canada is open to refugees is meaningless unless the Liberals do much more to accept those now barred from seeking asylum in the United States, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said on Monday. “To say we are open, we are an inclusive society, we welcome Muslims and refugees here, you have a home here, that needs to be backed up,” May told reporters. (Huffington Post)

Federal agency gives money to think tank with ties to Trudeau government

A federal government agency made a financial contribution to a think tank with ties to the Trudeau government, to sponsor a conference that featured Liberal cabinet ministers as speakers. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council paid a $15,000 sponsorship fee to Canada 2020, a self-described “progressive” think tank run by Tom Pitfield, a longtime friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The opposition says the payment raises questions about the use of federal funds to support an organization already known to have close links to the prime minister and his party. (CTV)

CRA offshore tax tip line nets $1M in reassessments, penalties

The Canada Revenue Agency's offshore tax evasion tip line has resulted in signed contracts with more than 20 informants and more than $1 million in tax reassessments and penalties. The tips have also resulted in audits of 218 Canadian taxpayers, some of which have been completed and some of which are still being conducted. However, the tax agency has yet to pay out a cent in reward money to any of its informants. Under the rules of the program, the CRA only pays out the reward of between five and 15 per cent once the additional tax flagged by the informant is collected. (CBC)

US travel ban leaves Iranian LGBT refugees in limbo

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender refugees from Iran have found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place after Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry for people from seven Muslim-majority countries. The order also suspended the US refugee admissions system for 120 days, and promised to prioritise members of religious minorities. But it made no mention of people facing persecution for their sexual orientation, and several gay Iranians who have fled a country where homosexuality is punishable by death are now left stuck in Turkey, where they say they are experiencing worse homophobic abuses than in their homeland. (The Guardian)

Trudeau’s office takes aim at Fox News over tweet

One of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s senior officials took Fox News to task for describing the alleged gunman in the Quebec City shooting as Moroccan. Kate Purchase, director of communications in the Prime Minister’s Office, pointed out the “false and misleading language” in a letter to Fox News Channel co-president Bill Shine that was released to the media Tuesday. “Canada is an open, welcoming country that stands by its citizens,” Purchase wrote in the letter, which goes well beyond simply asking for a correction. (Macleans)

White House says Trump won't roll back LGBTQ protections

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he won't roll back federal workplace protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people, giving a rare nod of approval to President Barack Obama's work on the issue. In a statement released early morning, the White House said Obama's 2014 executive order prohibiting LGBTQ workplace discrimination would remain intact "at the direction" of Trump. (Canadian Press)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Campbell Clark: Trudeau government plays waiting game amid uncertainty of Trump era

It is only 12 days into the Donald Trump era – and the chaos has visibly seeped into Ottawa and Justin Trudeau’s government. There has always been uncertainty about what President Trump means for Canada, starting with trade. Mr. Trudeau’s government has tried to respond by reassuring Canadians that, at the very least, they’re in contact with Mr. Trump’s team and on top of things. But more and more, the Canadian government – its own policies directly affected – is in a state of daily surprise, waiting to see how things play out. (Globe and Mail)

Michael Den Tandt: Trudeau’s fine line on Trump has roots in Mulroney-Reagan diplomacy

You don’t need a degree in translation to understand that, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decries fear and division, or embraces Syrian refugees, he has in mind a certain chaotically disruptive, wildly controversial president with combed-over hair, who last Friday introduced a Muslim ban that has rightly put the United States and the rest of the world in an uproar. (National Post)

Sukanya Pillay: Canada cannot shy away from its history of Islamophobia and prejudice

Canadians are shocked and grieving after Sunday’s shooting at a Quebec City mosque that killed six people and injured at least a dozen more, all Muslims, while they were at evening prayers.   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it an “act of terrorism” and in a public statement on Monday said that all Canadians stand with Canadian Muslims. Early reports indicate this was a targeted attack against Muslims, and that the suspect was influenced by white nationalism. While we cannot say anything definitive about the alleged shooter or his motives until trial, we must examine the broader political and social context within which this attack occurred. (TVO)

Amanda Connolly: In career marked by firsts, new RCAF deputy commander looks to the future

For the first time in Canadian history, the Royal Canadian Air Force will have a female deputy commander. But for Maj.-Gen. Tammy Harris, whose career has been marked by firsts, the honour she feels heading into her new post goes beyond being a symbol of women’s advancement in the military. It’s more about using her new responsibilities to champion the need for broader diversity and inclusion in the Canadian Forces — particularly when it comes to young people. (IPolitics)

Thomas Walkom: What Justin Trudeau could do to counter Donald Trump

When it comes to dealing with Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau is right to say actions speak louder than words. Now all the prime minister has to do is act. Up to now, Trudeau has avoided slagging the new U.S. president. There is no reason for him to change strategy. (Toronto Star)

Andrew Coyne: The common threads of intolerance behind anti-Muslim atrocities

It began just minutes after the first reports surfaced online. Though the killings had taken place at a Quebec City mosque, though the victims had all been Muslim, nevertheless it was asserted, with all the authority that anonymity confers, that the killers were Muslim. “Police reports” were disseminated claiming they were two Syrian refugees, just admitted the previous week. Fake news sites supplied fake names. The failure of the English-language news networks to go live with the story was attributed, not to a lack of resources or competence, but to their involvement in a cover-up. (National Post)

Faith Goldy: What They Won’t Tell Us About the Quebec Mosque Attack

Six men slaughtered. Killed in cold blood while peacefully praying inside their local mosque. This week’s mass murder in Quebec City sent shockwaves, not just across Canada, but the whole world. Irrespective of political stripe or profession of faith, there is a categorical acceptance of the fact that this attack ought to be investigated, prosecuted, punished, and condemned. (Rebel)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

  • Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities met yesterday to discuss Poverty Reduction Strategies (Public)
  • Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration will meet today to study the Modernization of Client Service Delivery (Public)
  • Standing Committee on National Defence met yesterday to study Canada and the Defence of North America (Partly public)
  • Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met yesterday to study Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act & Special Economic Measures Act (In Camera)