True North Initiative News Scan 02 02 2018

TOP STORIES

Former University of Manitoba Students Wanted for Terrorist Activities

The RCMP, working in conjunction with Interpol, are looking for these two men, both of whom are wanted on warrants for participation in terrorist activities. The two men wanted by RCMP were both students at the University of Manitoba. They are wanted on Canada wide warrants for terrorist activities. (Manitoba Post)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announces investigation into harassment allegation involving MP Erin Weir

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced Thursday there will be an independent investigation into an allegation of "harassing behaviour toward women" that has been made against NDP MP Erin Weir. Weir says he welcomes an investigation to clear his name. Singh was spurred into action after NDP MP Christine Moore emailed her colleagues with concerns about Weir's behaviour. (CBC)

‘Respect our rules!’ Canada panics as thousands of illegal immigrants flee Trump’s America

More than 20,000 asylum seekers crossed the border from the US in 2017 over fears of being deported by the Trump administration. And Canada fears numbers will only increase as Donald Trump gets tougher on immigration and asylum. Canadian Immigration and Refugee Minister Ahmed Hussen, who himself is a former refugee from Somalia, said: “It’s not a new phenomenon, but there was a sharp increase in the number of illegal entries last year. (Express.co.uk)

Tehran hijab protest: Iranian police arrest 29 women

Police in Iran’s capital have arrested 29 women accused of being “deceived” into joining protests against a law that makes wearing the hijab compulsory. Women across the country have been protesting by climbing onto telecom boxes, taking off their headscarves and waving them aloft on sticks. Although women in Iran have fought against the hijab for nearly four decades, the new wave of protests has grabbed more attention and sparked a debate rarely seen before over personal freedoms. (Guardian)

Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney joining Ontario PC race

With a simple tweet of “I’m in,” Ontario PC MPP Christine Elliott officially entered the race to replace Patrick Brown on Thursday. Meanwhile, Caroline Mulroney, the Toronto Sun has learned, is expected to announce her own bid for the job on Monday. Sources had confirmed to the Sun that Elliott, who has already twice run for the leadership, has organized a campaign team and spoken to supporters and other candidates now that the party executive has scheduled a March 10 leadership vote. (Toronto Sun)

How the Trudeau Liberals stumbled into a fight with religious groups

This can’t be the fight the Liberal government thought it was picking. Late last year, Employment and Social Development Canada posted an updated application form for the annual Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program on its website. It contained a new wrinkle: groups applying for funding would have to “attest” that their “core mandate” respects certain rights—including “reproductive rights.” (Macleans)

RCMP backlogged with access-to-information requests from its own staff

The RCMP has reversed course after a policy forcing officers to use the Access to Information Act to get their own personnel and medical information backfired badly. The RCMP has been flooded with so many new ATI requests over the past few years that it now has a backlog of about 3,250 unanswered files that have gone past their legislated deadlines, with the number growing weekly. (CBC)

Rebel-held Syrian suburb hit by chlorine attack as U.S. accuses Assad of making 'new kinds' of chemical weapons

A besieged neighbourhood in Syria appeared Thursday to have suffered a chemical attack — the third in as many weeks — as Bashar Assad’s regime increases pressure on the last remaining rebel strongholds. Missiles hit Douma, in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, in the early morning, reportedly spreading chlorine gas over the area. More than 20 civilians, including children, and a civil defence worker were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties. (National Post)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Some veterans want more than Ottawa can afford, Trudeau tells town hall

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is fighting some Canadian veterans in court because they are asking for more than the federal government can afford.  "Why are we still fighting certain veterans groups in court? Because they're asking for more than we are able to give right now," Trudeau said, answering a question from a veteran, who said he lost his leg to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, during a town hall meeting on Thursday evening in Edmonton. (CBC)

A year later, Trudeau will only revisit electoral reform if pushed by other parties — something MPs don't buy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has no plans to resurrect the Liberal campaign promise of electoral reform unless the other political parties agree to a system other than proportional representation. Reforming Canada's electoral system was a foundational pillar of the Liberals' campaign platform in 2015, with Trudeau promising that election would be the last conducted under the first-past-the-post system. (CBC)

Immigrants are largely behind Canada's status as one of the best-educated countries

Canada can credit immigrants for making it one of the best-educated countries in the world. Not only do many newcomers arrive with university degrees, their high expectations for their children’s academic achievements also appear to lead to the pursuit of higher education among their children, according to a new internal government analysis. (Toronto Star)

Conservative MP calls for ‘overhaul’ of IRB complaint process following Global News investigation

Conservative MP and immigration critic Michelle Rempel is calling for an “overhaul” to the way Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) handles complaints following a Global News investigation that revealed allegations of “sexist” and “aggressive” behaviour by powerful refugee judges. In a tweet posted early Thursday morning, Rempel called the allegations contained in the Global News story “gross.” She is calling for a review of the complaints system and “if necessary, a review of the role of these judges and of the appointment process.” (Global)

There's Nafta Hope Yet So Long As Trump Is At Table

Canada wants a Nafta deal as soon it can get one. Until then, every day of talks is better than the alternative. Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Nafta chief, rattles off all the barriers that lie ahead. Canada and the U.S. are at odds on the very philosophies of trade, immigration, protectionism -- and, of course, on the merits of Nafta itself, flawed and aged as it is, that Donald Trump has been threatening to kill. (Bloomberg)

Canada ranks No. 6, U.S. 21 on global democracy index

Canada is the sixth-best democracy in the world, but the United States has some work to do, according to the new Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. Its annual snapshot of worldwide democracy found declining average worldwide scores in 2017, largely driven by social, political and cultural division, which “raise troubling questions about the future direction of our democracies.” (CTV)

Migrant crisis: Scores feared drowned off Libyan coast

Ninety migrants are feared drowned after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast, says the UN's migration agency. Three survivors said most of those who drowned were Pakistani nationals. Libya has for years been a major transit route for migrants trying to reach southern Europe by sea. (BBC)

Trump may present peace plan even if Palestinians won't negotiate

The White House is considering presenting President Trump's Middle East peace plan even if the crisis with the Palestinian Authority continues and Palestinian President Abbas refuses to come to the negotiating table, senior U.S. officials tell me. The bottom line: The U.S. officials say the administration won't impose on the Israelis or Palestinians to accept the plan, but may release it so the parties and international community can judge it at face value. (Axios)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: The new rules are that anyone can now be randomly accused

We now live in a world where a man’s career and livelihood can be destroyed in the blink of an eye. Anonymous accusers can launch a hit piece about events that occurred over a decade ago, distorted by heavy alcohol consumption and the possible desire to unseat a powerful person. Before anyone can celebrate the shocking resignation of Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown — just months before an election he was favoured to win — consider how easily these accusations could be launched at anyone, at any time, for almost any reason. How would you feel if they were launched against your favourite politician? Or how about your son, your brother, your father, your husband, or you? (Toronto Sun)

Diane Francis: Trump's populism may not be attractive — but his immigration policies are resonating with people

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper cleaned up Canada’s immigration mess and his smart template is what President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address this week aims to emulate. Trump’s form of right-wing American populism may not be attractive, but immigration reform is the new normal both south of the border and in the European Union. One of his main goals is to take a strategic, economically driven approach to increased immigration and that will be the focus going forward. At the same time, he wants to fortify the wall and deport illegals. (Financial Post)

Farzana Hassan: A herd mentality that demands total loyalty now drives #MeToo

It is similar to the herd mentality displayed by the liberal left on issues like Palestinian rights or native rights. This herd mentality condemns any deviation from the parcel of beliefs is heresy. For example, the same crowd would gladly join the Israel apartheid week. They express love not just for moderate Muslims but for Islamists too. The female victimhood narrative is central to group identity. This requires certain aspects of dogma to be accepted unquestioningly, notably the unsubstantiated claim that only a tiny number of reported sexual accusations are false. (Toronto Sun)

Mark Bonokoski: Is God the next victim of anthem political correctness?

This may seem cruel, but if Liberal MP Mauril Belanger had not been publicly wasting away from the cruelty dealt by Lou Gehrig’s disease, his quest for a gender-neutral national anthem would have likely failed. It had been sought before — unsuccessfully — but never before had it been a respected politician’s dying wish. (Toronto Sun)

Sue-Ann Levy: Council a step closer to jumping on Islamophobia bandwagon

Council yet again proved Thursday that when it comes to social justice issues — no matter how ridiculous — they simply can’t say no. After waiving referral of the motion to executive committee earlier in the afternoon, council voted after their dinner break (when they thought no one was watching)  to approve a ridiculous Islamophobia motion by council’s newest social justice warrior, Neethan Shan. (Toronto Sun)

John Ivison: Scheer’s underwhelming first economic policy suffers from lack of boldness

The first effort is underwhelming: a tax credit for people paying federal income tax while on Employment Insurance maternity or parental programs. It scarcely even qualifies as fresh since the Conservative platform in 2015 — the one voters rejected — pledged to expand EI maternity and paternity benefits to increase flexibility for new parents. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea — and it is certainly is in keeping with the long-term Conservative goal of making life less expensive for young families. But it reflects the hallmark of Scheer’s leadership thus far: bashful when it should be bold, timid where it needs to be intrepid. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

 

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