True North Initiative: News Scan 02 17 17

TOP STORIES

Immigration Department cracks down on unlicensed ‘ghost’ consultants in China

In what’s believed to be Canada’s biggest crackdown on unlicensed “ghost” consultants operating abroad, Ottawa has rejected en masse dozens of immigration applications filed from the address of a company in China. A group of 57 of the rejected applicants has already filed an appeal to the Federal Court of the Immigration Department’s decision, claiming they hired Beijing-based Flyabroad for its translation and clerical services, and that the firm was not their authorized legal representative. (Toronto Star)

Refugee Claimants Arrested On Quebec-Vermont Border

The RCMP are confirming they arrested four people who crossed illegally into Quebec Thursday near the Vermont border. Cpl. Francois Gagnon says the migrants were arrested near Hemmingford, Que., as the province continues to see an influx of refugee claimants arriving from the U.S. (Huffington Post)

Heritage minister rejects 'cynical' Conservative anti-religious discrimination motion

A Conservative bid to remove the "Islamophobia" reference from the text to condemn religious discrimination is a "cynical" attempt to serve political purposes, Canada's heritage minister said today. "If we choose not to talk about it, it doesn't just go away," Mélanie Joly said in rejecting what she called a weakened, watered-down motion. (CBC) (National Post)

Former minister urges government to drop 'Islamophobia' from motion

A Liberal-backed motion aimed at combating racism would have broader support if it didn’t contain the word “Islamophobia,” former justice minister Irwin Cotler argued Thursday as the Liberals and Conservatives butted heads over competing propositions. But the Liberals stood firm in their support of the controversial motion, arguing publicly that removing that one word would water down the measure and diminish the fight against hatred and discrimination. (Toronto Sun)

Terror probe into Montreal couple found recipe, ingredients for bomb

Police discovered the instructions and ingredients to make a pressure-cooker bomb in one of the homes of a young Montreal couple suspected of planning to flee the country to join Daesh in 2015, according to newly released court documents. In the case against El Mehdi Jamali and Sabrine Djermane, police searched Jamali’s family home and found duct tape, nails, batteries and superglue they alleged were to be used to make a bomb inside a plastic Dollarama bag, the police affidavit said. In Djermane’s apartment, they allegedly discovered the hand-written instructions to make a bomb identical to the ones used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. (Toronto Star)

‘Luckily I escaped’: Man accused of role in deadly Pakistan mosque attack tells of his return to Canada

Rashid Ahmed answered the phone at his suburban home in Mississauga this week, which would not be unusual except for the fact that he is being investigated by Pakistani police over a deadly sectarian clash two months ago. “Luckily I escaped,” he said in an interview during which he acknowledged that Pakistani police had named him “as a terrorist” over the Dec. 12 incident at a mosque in Pakistan’s Chakwal district. Ahmed said he had returned to Canada before he could be arrested. “That’s how I am safe here, thank God. It’s all work of God, I believe, because had I been caught it would have been not good for my health at all.” (National Post)

Trudeau, Merkel differ on answering Trump call for more NATO defence spending

The pro-trade show of solidarity that Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are likely to make in Berlin later today will mask differences in how to deal with Donald Trump's call for NATO members to boost military spending. The two leaders are to address reporters following an impromptu dinner Thursday night at the Chancellor's invitation, and a meeting today. Trudeau's office confirmed the dinner but provided no details about their talk, but he and Merkel are to discuss a variety of subjects, including NATO. (Montreal Gazette)

Canada to spend more on defence, Sajjan says, but non-committal on NATO

Canada expects to make significant new investments in defence following the forthcoming release of its defence policy review, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Thursday as he met with NATO leaders in Brussels. But Sajjan was non-committal about the specific issue of Donald Trump's repeated complaints about NATO members whom the U.S. president has long alleged have failed to pay their fair share of the cost of the alliance. (CTV)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Ottawa to settle lawsuit with three Muslim Canadians jailed, tortured in Syria

The federal government will settle a lawsuit filed by three Muslim Canadian men who were jailed and tortured in Syria more than a decade ago with a formal apology, the removal of their names from Canada’s “no-fly” list and a multimillion-dollar compensation package, the Star has learned. An announcement could come as early as next week. A settlement of their $100-million claim for damages would be the final dramatic chapter in a troubling and long-running post-9/11 saga. (Toronto Star)

Why Denis Coderre wants to make Montreal a sanctuary city

As a growing number of asylum seekers flee the U.S. to Quebec, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is planning to introduce "very concrete measures" to ensure people without status or documentation have access to municipal services without fear of expulsion. A declaration making Montreal a "sanctuary city" could be put to a vote as soon as next Tuesday, Coderre said. "There are people who have been here for six or seven years, and then they are being expelled. It creates major social disorder,” he told reporters Wednesday, adding that he would seek approval from the Quebec government to get the designation. (CBC)

'Kill her and be done with it': MP behind anti-Islamophobia motion reads out hate mail

The Liberal MP who tabled an anti-Islamophobia motion says she has been inundated with hate mail and death threats. Mississauga, Ont. MP Iqra Khalid told the House of Commons Thursday she received more than 50,000 emails in response to M-103, many of them with overt discrimination or direct threats. "I have asked my staff to lock the office behind me as I now fear for their safety," she said. "I have asked them not to answer all phone calls so they don't hear the threats, insults and unbelievable amount of hate shouted at them and myself." (CBC)

'Canada saved my life': Surge of LGBTQ refugees seek asylum in Edmonton

For Adebayo Katiiti, returning to Uganda would be a death sentence. The transgender man has claimed asylum in Canada, hoping to make Edmonton his permanent home. He's already been jailed in Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal under a colonial-era law that prohibits sex acts "against the order of nature." "A lot of gay people in Uganda face threats, they are homeless or they are attacked when people realize that you are gay," Katiiti said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. (CBC)

College of Family Physicians calls for review of Safe Third Country Agreement

A physician's organization wants a review of an agreement that it says is preventing refugees coming from the U.S. to seek asylum in Canada. The College of Family Physicians of Canada says it is worried about the health of migrants who have suffered from exposure to extreme winter cold after crossing into Manitoba and other provinces. (CTV) (Macleans)

Calm in the storm: The rise and rise of Ahmed Hussen

When Hussen, who came to Canada as a teenage refugee from Somalia, took his place before the cameras and reporters, he looked utterly calm and composed. He clarified the policy questions, then hewed carefully to the indictment-free line his government would tread over the coming weeks: other countries have the right to set their own policies, we can only speak to how we do things here. (Macleans)

Expect to pay more tolls, higher property taxes to fund infrastructure, warns David Dodge

A former governor of the Bank of Canada says Canadians, especially Ontarians, need to get used to paying more to fund critical infrastructure, and the Liberal government needs to do a better job of getting that message out there. "If we want good infrastructure, we're going to have to pay for it," David Dodge told CBC Radio's The House. "We're going to have to pay for it either in tolls or we're going to have to pay for it in water rates or we're going to have to pay for it in additional property taxes — in some way or another," he said. (CBC)

Denying abortion akin to violence, Monsef says of Planned Parenthood funding

Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef says denying women access to the full range of reproductive services -- including abortion -- is a form of gender-based violence. That is why the agency she leads is giving Planned Parenthood Ottawa nearly $300,000 for a three-year project aimed at improving services for women who face barriers to their reproductive rights, such as being coerced into either pregnancy or abortion, or having trouble getting contraceptives. (CTV)

Canada has worst ER/referral wait times in 11 developed countries: Report

It’s a common complaint — Canadians needing medical attention having to cool their heels in a hospital emergency room for hours on end before being seen by a doctor or another health-care practitioner. Well, it turns out that compared to other industrialized countries, Canada has the highest proportion of patients reporting excessively long waits in an emergency department, a report released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows. (Toronto Sun)

Trump's battle with U.S. intelligence community could slow the flow of key security info to Canada

Canadian intelligence agencies could end up feeling the pain of the bruising political fight unfolding in Washington over leaks and the alleged ties of some in the Trump administration to Russia, experts warned on Thursday. Stung by claims it is deliberately leaking damaging information to undermine the new president, the U.S. intelligence community could become more reluctant to share both its raw data and assessments of global threats with long-standing partners (CBC)

'Day Without Immigrants' protests being held across U.S.

The heart of Philadelphia's Italian Market was uncommonly quiet. Fine restaurants in New York, San Francisco and the nation's capital closed for the day. Grocery stores, food trucks, coffee shops, diners and taco joints in places like Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston shut down. Immigrants around the U.S. stayed home from work and school Thursday to demonstrate how important they are to America's economy, and many businesses closed in solidarity, in a nationwide protest called A Day Without Immigrants. (CTV) (Globe and Mail) (Toronto Star)

Trump says he'll issue a new executive order on immigration by next week

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will issue a new executive order on immigration by next week, and Justice Department lawyers asked a federal appeals court to hold off on taking action in the legal battle over his initial travel ban until that new order is in place. (Chicago Tribune)

Donald Trump blasts ‘out of control’ media, detractors at combative news conference: ‘I inherited a mess’

President Donald Trump on Thursday aired his grievances against the news media, the intelligence community and his detractors generally in a sprawling, stream-of-consciousness news conference that alternated between claims that he had “inherited a mess” and the assertion that his fledgling administration “is running like a fine-tuned machine.” “To be honest, I inherited a mess,” Trump said, in a news conference that lasted more than an hour and was at times rambling, combative and pointed. “It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country.” (National Post)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Andrew MacDougall: Conservatives must build trust, not peddle cynicism

Whom do you trust? It’s both a question for the ages, and specifically the question of this age. And it’s the only question that should be on the minds of the too many men and women left in the Conservative leadership tussle. Why trust, and why now? (Ottawa Citizen)

Paul Wells: Anti-Islamophobia motion puts Tories on the horns of a dilemma

Most Fridays, I appear as an all-purpose pundit-for-hire on Radio-Canada’s popular noon-hour radio current-affairs show out of Montreal. Five days after the massacre at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, one of the topics was, “Will anything change?” It was a fair question. Justin Trudeau and Philippe Couillard, the Quebec premier, had spoken powerfully at a Montreal memorial service for the six victims, cut down at their mosque during prayers. The Bloc Québécois, which campaigned in the 2015 election on an ad that showed an animated oil derrick transforming into a hijab — it’s a period piece; you kind of had to be there — had decorously pulled the ad off YouTube in the wake of the mass killing. (Toronto Sun)

Farzana Hassan: I’m a liberal Muslim and I reject M-103

The most damaging assault by Islamic fundamentalists on Western values – and indeed Western civilization itself – is in the realm of free speech. There have been attempts to quash free speech right here in Canada. The Canadian Islamic Congress objected to Mark Steyn’s book America Alone, and Calgary imam Syed Soharwardy actually filed a human rights complaint against former Sun News Network host Ezra Levant for publishing the prophet Mohammad’s cartoons back in 2006. (Toronto Sun)

Kelly McParland: Maybe soon, Quebec will be as comfortable assimilating newcomers as the rest of Canada

I had a doctor’s appointment the other day, for a bit of routine upkeep. As is usual, before the doctor made his entrance, an assistant arrived for some preliminary grilling. In this case the assistant was an attractive young Middle Eastern woman with large brown eyes, wearing a hijab. After asking a few questions she poked around a bit, though nothing too intimate. It surprised me that Islam would be OK with a Muslim woman manhandling some random male. I figured she either belonged to an extremely liberal wing of Islam, or had decided to pursue her career whether Islam liked it or not. For me it supported a belief that much of the debate about Islam and acclimatization is wasted energy, as time and human nature will resolve it in the same way it has resolved previous waves of immigration involving Irish, Italians, Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Indians and Chinese. (National Post)

Ezra Levant: Swedish feminists submit to sharia in Iran (like they do at home)

Sweden was always held up as the progressive role model for Canada. Except, while the world loves Sweden, the Swedes were taught to hate themselves. More so than almost any other country, they have brought in unvetted, unskilled Muslim migrants who won’t assimilate. Sweden now has the world’s highest incidence of rape, too. (Rebel)

Faith Goldy: HIGHLIGHTS from our free speech rally (that the Media Party won’t show you)

Tonight, I take you behind the scenes at the Rebel rally for free speech that's now making national headlines. Over 1000 Canadian patriots, including four Conservative Party leadership candidates, rallied in Toronto, shoulder to shoulder in support of free speech, against the Liberal Government's blasphemy motion M-103. (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 (In Camera)
  • Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration met on Wednesday 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 met yesterday to study the Situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia 25 Years after the End of the Cold War (Public