True North Initiative: News Scan 02 02 17

TOP STORIES

Opposition accuses Trudeau of 'betrayal' as Liberals abandon promise of electoral reform

Justin Trudeau's Liberal government is abandoning a commitment to reform the federal electoral system. A new mandate letter issued to Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould, released publicly on Wednesday, says "changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate."  Opposition MPs blasted the Liberal government's move as a cynical betrayal. (CBC)

NDP, Greens vow broken promise of electoral reform will cost Liberals votes

After the NDP's fury over the Liberals' decision not to pursue electoral reform, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May stepped to the mic and delivered an assessment that can cut more sharply than anger: she's disappointed. In fact, May was downright sorrowful, calling the move the worst government betrayal of her adult life. May fought to become a voting member of the special committee on electoral reform and travelled the country along with the other MPs on the committee, spending weeks away from their families and ridings last summer. All after getting reassurances from senior Liberals, she said, that they were serious about reform. (CTV)

Alberta willing to accept more refugees if Trudeau lifts cap, premier says

Alberta is willing to accept more refugees if the federal government decides to lift a cap on how many can come to Canada, says Premier Rachel Notley. She said the premiers had a conference call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last weekend about the United States and the issue of refugees came up. Notley said she believes Ottawa is considering such a move. "Certainly we indicated to them at the time that we would be very happy to work with them to increase that number if that is the direction they choose to go," Notley said Wednesday. (CTV) (Calgary Herald)

Why Quebec City mosque shooting suspect may not face terrorism charges

Added to Canada's Criminal Code following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, terrorism is defined as an act that is committed "for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause" that has "the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public with regard to its security." (CBC)

Why no terrorism charges in Quebec mosque shooting? It would place extra burden on prosecutors: experts

Within 24 hours of Sunday’s shooting in a Quebec City mosque, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette stood in a prisoner’s box as the 11 charges against him were read aloud. By then, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already condemned the killing of six worshippers as a terrorism attack. Other political leaders, federal and provincial, also called it an act of terror. And yet, Bissonnette was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder — but not with any terrorism offences. (National Post)

‘National interest’ to guide future troop deployments, Trudeau tells Freeland

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is being instructed by Justin Trudeau to ensure any future deployment of troops is in Canada’s “national interest” – just as questions swirl over whether Ottawa will still send a big contingent of peacekeepers to Africa in the Donald Trump era. The Prime Minister released new mandate letters Wednesday with fresh marching orders for ministers who received new jobs in his January cabinet shuffle. Ms. Freeland’s letter contains instructions for synchronizing foreign policy and military missions at at time when Canada’s biggest ally is led by President Trump, a populist who wants to rewrite trade relations in the United States’ favour and complains that allies are not contributing enough to collective defence. (Globe and Mail) (Toronto Star)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Advocates, lawyers mull court challenge to Canada’s refugee pact with U.S.

Advocacy groups and lawyers say they are considering taking the federal government to court again over an agreement that prevents migrants who arrive from the United States from seeking asylum in Canada, in light of recent anti-immigration measures in the U.S. Last week, President Donald Trump signed a number of directives, including a 120-day ban on all refugee admissions and a ban on the entry of people from seven predominantly Muslims countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia – for 90 days. Immigration experts say the executive order clearly violates the Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires that people be sent back across the border if they claim refugee status after entering Canada through the United States, which is considered a “safe third country” by the Canadian government. (Globe and Mail)

Scrap safe country pact with U.S., advocates and professors urge Ottawa

A longtime Winnipeg human rights and immigration advocate is joining the growing chorus of voices demanding the federal government dump its Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. Under the agreement, which came into effect in 2004, individuals seeking protection must make a claim in the first country they arrive in — either Canada or the U.S. That requires Canada to send back to the U.S. any claimants entering Canada via its land border with the U.S., based on the premise that the U.S. is a safe country in which they can make their asylum claim. (CBC)

Ottawa could become a sanctuary city

On Tuesday, Toronto Mayor John Tory introduced a new motion affirming his city's status as a sanctuary city. In London, Ont., city politicians unanimously backed a call to make that municipality one as well. An Ottawa city councillor wants to make the capital a sanctuary city.  Somerset ward Coun. Catherine McKenney plans to present a motion next week aimed at ensuring undocumented immigrants have access to City of Ottawa services without fear of being detained or deported. (CBC)

At least 10 refugees cross Manitoba-U.S. border after Trump's travel ban

At least 10 refugees crossed the U.S.-Canadian border in Manitoba over the weekend after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Friday his ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries. Since January, 39 refugees have crossed into the snowy Manitoba wilderness in hopes of finding asylum in Canada. Some asylum seekers have been hospitalized from the frigid conditions, and analysts say border crossings are on the rise. “To have this sudden surge that we have experienced, and we expect that that will continue, is quite overwhelming,” Rita Chahal of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council told CTV News. (CTV)

Fear of Trump travel ban keeps Iranian-Canadian from visiting Halifax

A dual Iranian-Canadian citizen who travels frequently between Los Angeles and Halifax says he worries he won't be able to return to the United States if he visits Canada in the next few weeks. The concerns of Shahin Sayadi come as confusion lingers around the U.S. entry ban put into place last Friday by President Donald Trump. It states that people from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya are barred from entering the U.S. for three months. (CBC)

RCAF facing challenge of operating old and new fighter fleets at same time

A team of U.S. warplane experts has been invited to brief Canadian officials on what the Royal Canadian Air Force can expect when it takes delivery of a fleet of Super Hornet jets. The briefing, expected to take place this week at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C., is crucial for the Liberal government as it grapples with introducing a new fighter jet into service and its impact on Canada's air defences. (CBC)

Liberals vow ‘transparency’ on party fundraising

The federal Liberals are vowing to pull back the curtain on private fundraisers that pump tens of thousands of dollars into party coffers. On a day when Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould announced that Liberals were abandoning Trudeau’s pledge to reform Canada’s voting system, the minister vowed to move ahead with changes on another front that has caused them political headaches. The prime minister and several senior cabinet ministers have come under fire in recent months over private party fundraisers that charge supporters up to $1,500 a head. (Toronto Star)

Minister hints at sending more help for Ukraine amid new of violence

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the federal government is concerned about a new outbreak of fighting in Ukraine and is looking at ways to "improve" Canada's military support to the country. "I'm looking at the options right now in terms of how we can improve our support, what changes that we need to make," Sajjan said Wednesday. (Winnipeg Free Press)

Trump blasted Australian prime minister over refugee deal on weekend phone call

It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week. Instead, President Donald Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his Electoral College win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it. (Toronto Star)

Trump White House Puts Iran ‘On Notice’ After Missile Launch

The White House sharply condemned a recent Iranian ballistic missile test launch and warned of consequences including the possibility of new U.S. sanctions, in a more confrontational approach to Tehran that lays the groundwork for a potential early clash between the two countries. (Wall Street Journal)

UC Berkeley cancels right-wing provocateur’s talk amid violent protest

A protest at UC Berkeley over a scheduled appearance by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos turned fiery and violent Wednesday night, prompting police to cancel the event and hustle the Breitbart News editor off campus. But even after the event’s cancellation, hundreds of protesters spilled off campus into the city streets, where the violence continued as they confronted drivers, engaged in fights, smashed storefront windows and set fires. Protesters decried President Trump’s policies as much as they did the visit by Yiannopoulos, a gay conservative who has been making the rounds at college campuses across the country with his “Dangerous Faggot” talks, specializing in remarks meant to insult, offend and disgust liberals who disagree with his ideas. (SF Gate)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Media elites busy manufacturing hate

Despite the overwhelming love and support shown towards Canadians of the Muslim faith, many media elites prefer to tell a different story. While millions of Canadians were denouncing violence against Muslims, some in the media were using the tragedy as an excuse to condemn them. One article proclaimed that white Christians were the real terrorists. Another said Conservative MP Kellie Leitch, running for the leadership of her party, was “in the shadows of this horrific crime”. In the face of the tragedy, media elites couldn’t resist the opportunity to lecture Canadians, play identity politics and pretend xenophobia and so-called Islamophobia are sweeping problems in Canada. (Toronto Sun)

Anthony Furey: Trudeau makes the right call on electoral reform

The Liberals have abandoned a campaign promise and for this Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deserves praise. On Wednesday we learned electoral reform was off the table as per the revised mandate letter the PM provided to new democratic reform minister Karina Gould. During the previous campaign, Trudeau promised the 2015 election would be the last one conducted using the first-past-the-post voting system. But every step the Liberals took to fulfill this pledge was fraught with hurdles and controversy. (Toronto Sun)

Ezra Levant: Trudeau orders reporters to delete news — and Media Party applauds

There was a lot of confusion surrounding the mass murder at a Quebec mosque on Sunday night, as we’ve been reporting from the scene, at QuebecTerror.com. At first, police arrested two suspects, Andre Bissonnette and Mohamed Belkhadir. Witnesses reported that the shooters shouted, "Allah Akbar." The CBC, CTV, Quebec's TVA, and foreign media all ran with that information. But by mid-day, these "facts" had changed. (Rebel)

Terry Glavin: The very least Trudeau could do is get out of the way. But he won’t

Ever since last Friday, when U.S. President Donald Trump shut America’s doors to all refugees and banned any visitors from seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has been preening about how different and better and hip and generous we Canadians are. As it now turns out, at least for the federal government’s part, it was all just talk. On Saturday, Trudeau took to Twitter to declare: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. #Welcome to Canada.” The world loved it. It has now turned out to have been a platitude, a Liberal advertising jingle, and a hashtag. (National Post)

Toronto Star: Best response to Donald Trump is action on refugees

Countries around the world are grappling with the global migrant crisis. The Syrian civil war alone has forced some 5 million people to seek safety in neighbouring countries, and has displaced more than 6 million more. In Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere in the region millions of Syrians live in desperate circumstances. Many decide their only chance is to take the treacherous trip across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a new life in Europe. Those who survive face yet more steep challenges. (Toronto Star)

Andrew Coyne: It’s not the Liberals’ fault for lying about electoral reform, it’s yours for believing them

It’s your fault, Canadians. You failed to live up to the standards your prime minister expected of you. You had your chance and you blew it. It isn’t that the Liberals promised something they had no intention of ever delivering. The fault is yours, for not making it possible for them to deliver it. When the Liberal platform said the 2015 election would be “the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system,” when the Liberal leader repeated this vow 10, 20, 100 times since, you did not, as you should have done, attach a giant asterisk that read: “Assuming we don’t change our mind.”  You took them at their word. (National Post)

John Ivison: Scuttled electoral reform betrays those who saw Trudeau as antidote to political cynicism

“A massive political deception” is how NDP leader Tom Mulcair, portrayed the Liberal government’s abandonment of electoral reform. Mulcair’s claim suggests that when Justin Trudeau committed — unequivocally and without reservation — to make the 2015 election the last to be conducted under the first-past-the-post system, he knew he was lying. On first inspection, it smacks of George Stephanopoulos’ cynical defence of his former boss, Bill Clinton: “The president has kept all the promises he intended to keep.” (National Post)

Tasha Kheiriddin: Electoral reform was Trudeau's failure — and he'll wear it

To borrow a quip from Trudeau’s late father: Zap — you’re frozen. With a stroke of the pen Trudeau the younger has completely reversed his promise that a Liberal government would “introduce legislation to enact electoral reform” within 18 months of taking office. One wonders why he bothered to send Gould a mandate letter at all. It would have made more sense if he’d simply sent her a pink slip and dissolved a ministry which now has no reason to exist. (IPolitics)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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