True North Initiative: News Scan 02 16 17

TOP STORIES

'We don't know what the numbers are going to do': Warmer weather could bring more asylum seekers

Border officials in the United States say some of the asylum seekers they have picked up heading north in recent weeks were denied refugee status in the U.S. and are hoping to be granted safe haven in Canada. U.S. Border Patrol sector chief for Grand Forks Aaron Heitke is in charge of monitoring 1,385 kilometres of North Dakota and Minnesota's border with Canada. A release Monday from Manitoba RCMP said so far this year, 69 asylum seekers have crossed into Canada. Nearly two dozen came across on Feb. 11 alone. (CBC)

Troops risking their lives flying over Iraq among those losing tax exemption

CTV News has learned that military personnel who are regularly going into Iraq are among the Canadian troops losing a tax exemption because the military decided they do not face high enough risk. The tax breaks, worth between $1,500 to $1,800 per month, are provided to soldiers who meet certain criteria related to the risk of their duties and the relative hardship of their living conditions while deployed overseas. (CTV)

Liberal MP won't remove Islamophobia reference from motion condemning discrimination

The Liberal MP who tabled a motion that touched off a divisive debate over religious protection and free speech says she will not remove the reference to Islamophobia from the text. Mississauga, Ont., MP Iqra Khalid, who led debate in the House of Commons tonight on M-103, said the common definition of Islamophobia is "the irrational hate of Muslims that leads to discrimination," and that her motion must not remove the word. (CBC)

Conservatives accuse Liberal government of playing politics with Islamophobia motion

Liberals and New Democrats signalled their strong support Wednesday night to have the federal government seek ways to combat rising anti-Muslim sentiment in Canada. Conservative MPs, however, accused the Trudeau government of playing politics and sowing division by asking the House of Commons to vote on a parliamentary motion condemning “Islamophobia,” a term Conservative MPs argued was too vague. “It’s time we talked about these issues in much more mature terms,” David Anderson, a Conservative MP from rural Saskatchewan, told the House of Commons Wednesday night during an hour-long debate on M-103, a motion put forward by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid. “This word is a conversation-stopper and it needs to be set aside.” (National Post)

Canadians less tolerant of uncontrolled immigration than Americans: poll

When you talk to Canadians, you develop the impression that they’re a tolerant lot that largely rejects the disaffected rhetoric sweeping countries around the world. But there is at least one area concerning immigrants in which Canadians feel stronger than people from many other countries, including the U.S., said an Ipsos poll provided exclusively to Global News Wednesday night. Canadians mostly shun a harder-edged approach on issues such as immigration, terrorism and confidence in institutions, a study titled “Power to the People?” found. (Global)

Trudeau shows love for EU amid Brexit, U.S. tensions over free trade

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed the European Union some much needed love today in a highly-anticipated speech following its ratification of the free trade pact with Canada. But he also warned that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement doesn't succeed it could be last deal of its kind. "The European Union is a truly remarkable achievement, and an unprecedented model for peaceful co-operation. Canada knows that an effective European voice on the global stage isn't just preferable -- it's essential," Trudeau said. (CP24) (Global) (CTV)

Most Canadians approve of trade deal with European Union, poll suggests

A majority of Canadians approve of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, ratified Wednesday in a vote in the European Parliament, according to a new poll — but support for CETA has dropped as more Canadians now say they are not sure what to think of it. (CBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Closure of Alberta town’s immigration centre would be economic blow, study finds

A study commissioned by a town in eastern Alberta suggests the closure of a federal immigration processing centre would be economically devastating. Vegreville would suffer a permanent drop in population, lower property values and higher unemployment if the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre moves to Edmonton, according to the report. The federal government announced late last year it was relocating the centre, which employs 236 people, by the end of 2018 to improve service. (Toronto Star)

Proposed bill letting U.S. border guards detain Canadians could face legal challenges A bill proposing to bolster the powers American border guards yield in Canada – including the ability to strip search and detain Canadians – could lead to legal challenges against the federal government, immigration experts are warning. Part of a bilateral agreement with the U.S., the bill, when passed, will grant American customs agents the right to carry weapons within Canada, perform body searches and detain – but not arrest – them. (Global)

CPC leadership contenders rile crowd at Rebel event opposing M-103

As most members of Parliament debated a Liberal MP’s motion denouncing Islamophobia in the House of Commons Wednesday evening, four Conservative leadership contenders took their opposition on the road to Toronto. There they riled a hundreds-strong crowd gathered at the Canada Christian College. The majority in attendance were middle aged, but there were a number of twenty-somethings among them, and some children, presumably there with their parents. (IPolitics)

Trudeau home to get $2 million in security upgrades

The federal government is planning to spend $2 million to beef up security at the historic home occupied by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will spend  $1.6 million to upgrade security at Rideau Cottage. The National Capital Commission (NCC), which is responsible for Canada's official residences, will contribute $390,000 to the upgrades. (CBC)

Top Canadian news officials urge Senate to pass bill on source protection

The heads of some of Canada’s biggest media organizations have strongly endorsed a federal bill that would offer greater protection to journalistic sources, stating recent police probes in Quebec have had a chilling effect on whistle-blowers across the country. In an appearance at a Senate committee on Wednesday evening, officials at six large newsrooms said public-interest journalism can only thrive if sources feel their anonymity is adequately protected, which they say is currently not the case in Canada. (Globe and Mail)

Trudeau must act now to protect Canada from Trump's domestic agenda: group

An influential organization representing Canada's biggest corporations is urging Justin Trudeau to take ambitious steps to shield the country from threats posed by Donald Trump's domestic economic agenda. In a letter to the prime minister, the head of the Business Council of Canada warns Ottawa to make Canada more competitive as the U.S. president pursues his plans to slash corporate taxes and ease regulatory obstacles. (CBC)

Canada Debates Whether The U.S. Is Still A Safe Place For Refugees

Dozens of asylum-seekers have walked miles in freezing temperatures to illegally cross from the United States into Canada, arriving in small towns along the border in recent weeks.  Amid fears that U.S. President Donald Trump’s platform means the U.S. is no longer a safe place for refugees, they’re trying to get around the Safe Third Country Agreement, a reciprocal deal the U.S. and Canada signed in 2002 establishing that refugees must file asylum claims in whichever of the two nations they arrive in first. (Huffington Post)

'Telephone terrorism' has rattled 48 Jewish centers. Is anyone paying attention?

In all, 48 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats during January, according to the JCCA, an association of JCCs. Most were made in rapid succession on three days: January 9, 18 and 31. A number of JCCs, including Orlando's, received multiple threats. In a statement, the FBI said the bureau and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are "investigating possible civil rights violations in connections with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country." (CNN)

Islamophobic Saudi Arabia Deports 40,000 Muslim Pakistanis, Citing Terrorism Concerns

Saudi Arabia has deported a staggering 40,000 Pakistani migrant workers in the span of just four months, citing terrorism concerns. The Saudi Gazette reported last week that “a number of Pakistanis were held in the crimes of drug trafficking, thefts, forgery and physical assault.” Authorities feared that some of the migrant workers were linked with ISIS, or as the Saudis call the terror group, Daesh. Other migrants were deported due to expired residency and work permits. (Daily Wire)

Trump promises Israel that Iran will never get bomb

President Donald Trump hailed the United States' "unbreakable" bond with Israel on Wednesday and promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran would never be permitted to build a nuclear weapon. Trump's vow was designed to address Israeli concerns over the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, which Netanyahu has warned expires too soon to permanently remove the threat. (Yahoo)

Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns

U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. The officials’ decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team’s contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump accused the agencies of leaking information to undermine him. (Wall Street Journal)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Trudeau’s mixed message on immigration

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sending mixed messages when it comes to Canada’s immigration and refugee laws. He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth, and it’s starting to create real problems for Canada — particularly when it comes to border security and our relationship with our southern neighbour and closest ally. (Toronto Sun)

Alex Wilner: Terrorism in the West is rising

The global terrorism picture is grim.  Rates of terrorism peaked in 2014 and have barely crested. For the past two years in a row, over 25,000 people have been killed by terrorism around the world. This is unprecedented.  To put this number into perspective: when al Qaeda launched the 9/11 attacks in 2001, only 6,000 people died in terrorism that year, and half of them on that fateful September day in the United States. (Winnipeg Sun)

Brian Lilley: Illegal immigration comes to Canada, “bigly”

Literally hundreds of people are walking across the border through fields and forests from the US into Canada and the Trudeau Liberals are doing nothing but welcoming them. Does that make sense to you? (Rebel)

Terry Glavin: Democracy is a shambles, and you’re a citizen. Get out of your echo chamber

Canada has reached a populism tipping point and Canadians can no longer count themselves immune from the upheavals underway around the world, the global Edelman Trust Barometer revealed this week. For the first time in the 17 years that the Edelman corporation has been measuring the public’s trust in major institutions in 28 countries, Canadians have fallen into the crisis category of “distrusters.” The country is in trouble. (National Post)

Linda Mcquaig: Israeli stance hinders Trudeau’s chances of getting seat on UN security council

For Trudeau, cultivating the persona of a progressive internationalist — especially as his progressive credentials have been tarnished lately on the domestic front — is key if he wants to hold onto the large swath of Canadian voters who embraced him as the anti-Harper in the last election. The problem is that, while Trudeau’s warm reception of refugees and his return to peacekeeping have won him kudos at home and abroad, his staunch support for Israel at the UN — a holdover from the Harper years — has left Canada significantly offside with world opinion, including major Canadian allies (and influential UN players) Britain, France and Germany. (Toronto Star)

 

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 met yesterday to study Family Reunification (In Camera)
  • Standing Committee on National Defence met on Tuesday to continue study on Canada the Defence of North America (In Camera)
  • Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development will meet later today to study the Situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia 25 Years after the End of the Cold War (Public)