True North Initiative: News Scan 02 21 17

TOP STORIES

Liberal government ‘testing the limits’ of Canadians’ attitudes to refugees: poll

A majority of Canadians generally approve of the Liberal government’s approach to refugees, but Ottawa may be “testing the limits” of how many migrants they are willing to accept, a new poll shows. While 47 per cent of respondents believe Canada is taking in “about the right number” of refugees, 41 per cent said the number is “already too high,” according to the survey by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute. Eleven per cent said they’d like to see Canada open its doors to even more refugees. (National Post) (Radio Canada) (Globe and Mail) (CTV)

Montreal passes motion to become sanctuary city

City council unanimously passed a motion declaring Montreal a “sanctuary city” Monday, pledging that undocumented immigrants can have access to municipal services without fear of being deported. The city is following in the footsteps of municipalities like Toronto, San Francisco and Chicago that have adopted similar designations. (Montreal Gazette) (CBC) (CTV) (Toronto Star)

Fearing Trump, asylum seekers travel across U.S.-Canada border, regardless of risks

Official government numbers show a surge of people travelling from the United States to make asylum claims in Canada since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States pledging an immigration crackdown. In Quebec alone, the number has risen from 42 in January, 2015, to 452 last month. In 2016, there were 2,537 claims at unauthorized entry points in Quebec, up from 1,054 in 2015. A smaller spike has emerged in Manitoba where dozens of asylum seekers – mainly Minnesota residents of Somali origin – have braved long hikes across frozen fields, during which some have suffered frostbite.. (Globe and Mail)

Canada reaffirms commitment to bring in Yazidi refugees

However, citing security concerns, officials at IRCC have been very tight-lipped about any details of this operation, leading the opposition to suspect that Ottawa is not showing the same level of urgency in bringing Yazidi refugees as it did in the much better publicized campaign to bring in Syrian refugees. (Radio Canada)

Opposition calls on government to crack down on illegal border crossings

The growing number of asylum seekers risking life and limb – a Ghanaian refugee claimant who crossed the U.S.-Canada border into Manitoba on Christmas Eve is expected lose all of his fingers, a toe and possibly his arms due to severe frostbite – has the opposition Conservative Party calling on the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to enforce the border and close a legal loophole that entices asylum seekers from the U.S. to cross the border illegally. “We call upon the government to develop a plan to enforce, and if necessary, strengthen our laws to stop this,” tweeted Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel. (Radio Canada)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Sanctuary city movement grows in Canada, but could bring tension with police, immigration officials

The uncertainty surrounding U.S. immigration policies has prompted a number of Canadian cities to declare themselves sanctuaries for undocumented migrants. But as cities move to protect migrants from deportation orders, it is creating the prospect for tensions between municipal governments, law enforcement and federal immigration officials. (CBC)

Why are asylum seekers crossing into Canada on foot and what are their rights?

The images are becoming increasingly prevalent; young men and women, sometimes entire families, appearing underdressed for an outdoor walk in Canada’s blistering February weather. Some drag bulging suitcases through the powdery snow, others carry plastic shopping bags. These are the images of the growing number of men, women and children illegally crossing into Canada from the United States attempting to seek asylum. (Global)

Canada-U.S. border the final frontier for refugee-seekers

Security officials scrambled on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border Monday morning when two men, a young woman and an infant made their way to the busiest hole in the frontier. On the American side, the group was flagged to the U.S. Border Patrol. Agents intervened and brought them in for questioning and verifications to ensure that they were legally in the country, said Norman Lague, an officer with the agency. (Metro) (Toronto Star)

New Brunswick saw spike in refugee claimants at United States border in 2016

The number of refugee claimants crossing into New Brunswick from the United States saw a significant increase last year. According to figures released by the Canadian Border Services Agency, there were 23 refugee claimants at the border in 2016 — more than the previous four years combined. The numbers include those seeking asylum at official points of entry, and those stopped by police after crossing in remote locations. (680)

Liberal backbenchers, Tory leadership hopefuls among Parliament's biggest dissenters

Members of Parliament might feel pressure to toe the party line and maintain party unity in the House of Commons. But a few MPs have stood out for their willingness to rise and vote "Yea" when the rest of their colleagues vote "Nay." Still, this breaking of the ranks is rare: even the biggest rebel in Parliament votes along party lines 87 per cent of the time. (CBC)

Justin Trudeau apologizes for answering English question in French at Sherbrooke town hall

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized to English language minority communities for answering an English question in French during a town hall session in Sherbrooke, Que. A woman had asked — in English — if there were any plans for the federal government to do anything to help anglophones in the province of Quebec seeking mental health services, since they are often only available in French. Trudeau chose to answer the woman’s concern in French only. (Global)

More families of Afghan war veterans lost to suicide will receive military honour

The Globe investigation revealed that only eight of the 31 families had received the Memorial Cross and Sacrifice Medal – created to commemorate soldiers whose deaths are attributable to military service and to pay homage to their families.‎ In many other cases, a military board of inquiry or the Department of Veterans Affairs had determined that the suicides were service-related – in some instances several years ago – but the Afghanistan war veterans and their families had not been recognized. (Globe and Mail)

Canada set to renew Ukraine military training mission amid Trump fears

The Trudeau cabinet has not yet announced the extension of the two-year-old non-combat mission, dubbed Operation Unifier, which expires on March 31. The silence has sparked worries in Kiev, where the Ukrainian government is anxious for Western reassurance following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has expressed interest in striking some kind of bargain with Russian President Vladimir Putin that could include lowering U.S. sanctions imposed over Moscow’s role in Ukraine. (Globe and Mail)

Day Without Immigrants: 'More than 100 workers' fired over strike

More than 100 workers in the US have lost their jobs after taking part in last week's Day Without Immigrants protest, US media say. Dozens of people, including construction workers and restaurant staff, reported being fired after staying at home on Thursday. (BBC)

Milo Yiannopoulos uninvited from American conservatives’ conference over video ‘condoning pedophilia’

The organizers of this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded their controversial booking of Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos on Monday, following an outcry after the right-wing speaker’s critics resurfaced videos of him criticizing age of consent laws and joking about a teenaged sexual encounter with a Catholic priest (National Post)

TSA allows JFK passengers to bypass security checkpoint

Eleven passengers strolled through a security lane without being screened at Kennedy Airport early Monday after Transportation Security Administration agents left the area unsupervised, law enforcement sources said. Instead of following protocol and notifying Port Authority cops, it took the TSA two hours to tell police about the frightening breach, the sources add. (NY Daily News)

Study: Venezuelans lost 19 lbs. on average over past year due to lack of food

In a new sign that Venezuela’s financial crisis is morphing dangerously into a humanitarian one, a new nationwide survey shows that in the past year nearly 75 percent of the population lost an average of 19 pounds for lack of food. The extreme poor said they dropped even more weight than that. (FOX)

US official: ISIS has ‘people in place’ to conduct ‘steady’ attacks

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) terror group is under heavy global pressure from militaries and law enforcement organizations, but military and counterterrorism officials forecast no letup in the current wave of international terrorism. (Washington Top)

Seventy four bodies of migrants wash ashore in Libya, Red Crescent reports

Scores of bodies of African migrants washed ashore in Libya’s western city of Zawiya on the Mediterranean, a spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent said Tuesday — the latest tragedy at sea after migrant deaths rose to record levels along the key smuggling route over the past months. (National Post)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Arkady Ostrovsky: How Putin built his new Russia with KGB tactics and television

One of Vladimir Putin’s first symbolic steps after becoming Russia’s president in 2000 was to restore the Soviet national anthem, originally composed in 1938 — at the height of Stalin’s terror. Yeltsin had abandoned it along with other Soviet symbols, replacing it with Mikhail Glinka’s wordless “Patriotic Song.” After meeting Russian sportsmen, who apparently complained that they could no longer sing along, Putin proposed bringing back the old tune, albeit with new lyrics. To say that the Russians were longing for this restoration of the Soviet anthem was untrue. Most people did not care. (National Post)

Ricky Leong: Welcoming legitimate refugees to Canada should not come at cost of border chaos

This fantastic image is stereotypical Canada — the kind of picture that represents how much of the world sees us and how many of us would like to see ourselves. But it belies the proper way to claim refugee status and the difficulties this country will face if the current trickle of people entering Canada on foot from the United States turns into something more substantial. (Calgary Sun)

Ezra Levant: Immigrants must now swear to honour Indian treaties. Will Trudeau do the same?

Lots of challenges with new immigrants to Canada. Some conservatives like Kellie Leitch talk about having a Canadian values test. She’s been called racist by every journalist in the country, and of course by the Trudeau Liberals.  But look at this: Trudeau does believe in Canadian values, after all. (Rebel)

Brian Lilley: Ask a conservative woman: Online abuse not just directed at “left wing sisterhood”

I’ve been listening over the last six to twelve months about how bad life is for women, especially progressive women when it comes to politics and the nasty online environment that exists. If you were to believe the media, you would think that the only folks being targeted by mean tweets and abusive comments were women. I won’t deny that these women face abuse online, but that abuse is not only aimed at progressive women and in fact, not just at women at all. (Rebel)

 

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 meet tomorrow to study Family Reunification (In Camera)
  • Standing Committee on National Defence will meet on Thursday to study Suicide Mortality in the Canadian Armed Forces (Public)
  • Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development meet later today to study Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act and Special Economic Measures Act (In Camera)