True North Initiative: News Scan 02 27 17

TOP STORIES

Increase in asylum seekers not yet a growing trend, says Hussen

Canada’s immigration minister says he’s not yet convinced a recent increase in the number of asylum seekers crossing the border illegally from the United States constitutes a growing trend, despite concerns raised by Manitoba that the situation may be getting out of hand. In the days and weeks that followed a move by President Donald Trump to ban travellers from seven Muslim-majority entering the U.S., Canada has seen an increase in the number of refugee claimants walking across the border to request asylum. (Macleans) (Globe and Mail)

Close the Safe Third Country loophole: Jason Kenney

The federal government should eliminate a loophole that encourages asylum seekers to cross the border illegally, former Conservative immigration minister Jason Kenney says. Canada has seen an increase in the number of refugee claimants walking over the border from the U.S. to request asylum in the weeks following U.S. President Donald Trump's attempt to ban travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries. Under the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S., refugee claimants in one country can't make the same claim on the other side of the border. But the agreement only applies to those who make their claims at official border crossings. If they manage to cross in an open area and hit Canadian soil, they are entitled to a hearing. (CTV)

A tougher refugee border pact? America said no.

The sometimes tragic phenomenon of asylum-seekers crossing fields in Manitoba and ditches in Quebec has prompted many immigration experts and some politicians to call for changes to the Canada-U.S. pact that makes border hopping the only choice for people urgently seeking refuge. That is: stop shuttering our front doors, our border entry posts, to those desperate for safety and legal protection they want in Canada. There are those on the other side of the status quo who wish for a way not only to keep the door shut, but to press down on the windows people are finding their way through. One of them is Jason Kenney, Canada’s former immigration minister. (Macleans)

Tensions build in Emerson, Man. amid more illegal border crossings

Tensions flared as Liberal MPs visited the small border town of Emerson, Man. to address concerns about the steady stream of asylum seekers crossing the nearby U.S.-Canada border and entering the community. The Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council has said since Jan. 1 staff has processed 139 refugee claims from people illegally crossing the border. According to local officials, at least 12 more have crossed since Friday. Response to the asylum seekers -- many of whom are originally from Somalia -- has been mixed in Emerson. Some local volunteers have provided food and lodgings for the groups, while others in the community say they have safety concerns. (CTV)

Turkish citizens arrested in B.C. for illegally crossing Canada-U.S. border

Two Turkish citizens were turned over to Canadian Immigration officials after police caught them crossing the Canada-U.S. border illegally Saturday morning, according to Surrey RCMP. The man and woman only had personal belongings with them, RCMP said in a written release. Officers found them near 170th Street and 0 Ave, Surrey, B.C. (Metro) (Global)

Most people crossing border illegally always planned to end up in Canada, minister says

Most of the asylum seekers who have been crossing the Canada-U.S. border illegally were always planning to end up in Canada, said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. “The vast majority … are actually transiting through the United States,” the minister said in an interview on The West Block. “Their plan was not originally to be in the United States, but to come through the United States,” (Global)

Ralph Goodale to raise illegal border crossings with U.S. officials in coming days

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says he'll be discussing the growing issue of asylum seekers sneaking across the border with senior officials in the United States in the coming days. Goodale, who oversees the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency, said the government is already in communication with some U.S. authorities about the impact unannounced asylum seekers are having on the Canadian refugee system. (CBC)

Anti-Semitism in North America has reached 'unprecedented' levels

Anti-Semitism in North America has reached unprecedented levels, accounting for almost 60% of religiously-motivated hate crimes that occur in Canada. Despite claiming to be at the forefront of the anti-oppression movement, students at Canadian universities are often conditioned to ignore, deny or support alarming acts of anti-Semitism. (Toronto Sun)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

'They hardly talk': Asylum seekers slow to ask questions during ride from border to Winnipeg

Nikodimos Gezahegn says it's often a quiet ride, but eventually the questions come. Where are you taking us? How long does the application take? Where are we going to stay, and is there any food? "They always ask that," said Gezahegn. The questions are asked by asylum seekers who have just made their way into Canada near Emerson, Man., by foot from the United States. Gezahegn is a driver for Welcome Place, a Winnipeg newcomer settlement agency, which lately has been picking up refugee claimants at the border, about 100 kilometres south of Manitoba's capital. (CBC)

Yazidi refugee effort proof that government listens and can work: Ambrose

Efforts underway to give asylum to 1,200 primarily Yazidi refugees by year end should help bolster people’s confidence in government, says Interim Opposition leader Rona Ambrose. At a time when people are losing faith in democratic institutions, the ability of opposition and government to come together to do what was right for Yazidis is proof the system can work, she said. “It was the right thing to do, and it wasn’t the government’s agenda, but Canadians spoke, the opposition spoke, there was a moral authority issue here as well,” Ambrose said. (IPolitics)

Ottawa has pledged millions to un-brainwash terrorists. But they might be unfixable: DiManno

Critics argue deradicalization programs are more about progressives comforting themselves than actually disrupting radical extremism. The hyper anti-terrorism strategy that ensued has gone too far for some, particularly civil rights advocates — including Amnesty International, which last week chose to unveil its annual report in Paris, warning that France is at a “tipping point” as the government expands police powers in the wake of atrocities. Others, primarily on the political far right, contend France hasn’t gone anywhere near far enough, demanding ever-harsher anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim measures: the Donald Trump formula. (Toronto Star)

RCMP commissioner warns continued IT failures will have 'catastrophic' consequences

Canada's top cop is warning that ongoing computer network failures and slipshod service from Shared Services Canada could have "catastrophic" consequences for police and the public. CBC News has obtained a blistering Jan. 20, 2017, memo to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in which Commissioner Bob Paulson details how critical IT failures have increased by 129 per cent since the beleaguered department took over tech support for the entire government five years ago. (CBC)

Parliamentary press gallery pushes back against plan to fingerprint, screen reporters

The parliamentary press gallery is challenging a plan to impose RCMP security screening measures on new members, including fingerprinting for criminal record checks. The gallery, which marked its 150th year as an organization in 2016, formally opposed in principle the proposal from a House of Commons administrative committee during an annual meeting at the National Press Theatre today. The gallery's executive will seek answers on why the screening is necessary, what threshold for criminal background could potentially bar access to Parliament Hill, and why fingerprinting is necessary. (CBC)

Former religious freedom ambassador warns conservatives that ‘Canadian values’ talk is full of pitfalls

Canada’s former ambassador for religious freedom is warning conservatives about the pitfalls of “Canadian values” talk. At the annual Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa Saturday, Andrew Bennett said “values” language — like that cropping up in the Conservative party leadership race — must be debunked. “When people bandy about an expression like ‘Canadian values,’ they will ascribe all kinds of different things to that, things that can be contested,” he said. (National Post)

Want millennial voters? Conservatives must change, researchers say

Researchers brought a sobering message to the annual convention of the right-leaning Manning Centre Friday: most voters under 35 aren't connecting with the conservative movement, and if it wants to reach them, more than just messaging needs to change. (CBC) (National Post)

Toronto cops face illegal immigrant dilemma

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders will deliver a report in March detailing whether his officers will comply with federal immigration laws or Toronto’s Sanctuary City policies. Under Canadian law, police are expected to contact border officials to report individuals who are here illegally, though current practice is they “don’t ask” anyone’s immigration status. (Toronto Sun)

'It's nerve-racking': Life on the Quebec border in Trump's America

The search lights flooding his windows, the helicopters overhead, the woman who knocked on his door late one night asking how to get to Canada — it has all become too much for Tim Lamb. The 25-year-old, who lives in Champlain, N.Y., within a few hundred metres of the border, decided to get a German shepherd to help him feel safe. But if this keeps up, he says, he may need to move. (CBC)

Goodale rejects former colleague's claim of long waits by Manitoba asylum seekers

Canada's public safety minister has rejected a statement from a former cabinet colleague that asylum seekers coming to the Manitoba border have had to wait more than a day and a half to be processed. MaryAnn Mihychuk, the rookie Liberal MP for Kildonan-St. Paul, who met with Canada Border Services agents in Emerson, Man., as part of an unofficial visit on Saturday, said border staff don't have the resources needed to handle future refugee claimants who are taken to the port for processing. (CBC)

Inside the mysterious removal of the Canadian military’s second-in-command

On the morning of Monday, Jan. 9, four unmarked police cars arrived at Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s modest home in the Ottawa suburb of Orléans. Norman, the second-highest-ranking officer in the Canadian military, was standing in the driveway, about to take his wife to work. The plainclothes RCMP officers asked Norman to go back into the house, and for the next five to six hours they interrogated the vice-admiral, seizing his computers and cellphones. (National Post)

Canada conservationist warns of ‘cyber poaching’

Photographers, poachers and eco-tour operators are in the crosshairs of a Canadian conservationist who warns that tracking tags are being hacked and misused to harass and hunt endangered animals. Steven Cooke, a biology professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, says that the very tools used by scientists to study and protect animals and fish are being hijacked to do just the opposite. (Breitbart)

Meet the terrorist behind the next women’s march

The document was co-authored by, among others, Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a convicted terrorist. Odeh, a Palestinian, was convicted in Israel in 1970 for her part in two terrorist bombings, one of which killed two students while they were shopping for groceries. She spent 10 years in prison for her crimes. She then managed to become a US citizen in 2004 by lying about her past (great detective work, INS: Next time, use Google) but was subsequently convicted, in 2014, of immigration fraud for the falsehoods. However, she won the right to a new trial (set for this spring) by claiming she had been suffering from PTSD at the time she lied on her application. Oh, and in her time as a citizen, she worked for a while as an ObamaCare navigator. (New York Post)

National security adviser: Term 'radical Islamic terrorism' isn't helpful

New national security adviser H.R. McMaster is already setting a strikingly different tone than his ousted predecessor, Michael Flynn, and President Donald Trump, saying the term "radical Islamic terrorism" isn't helpful for US goals. (CNN)

Philippine Abu Sayyaf jihadists behead German hostage in video

Jurgen Kantner was abducted from his yacht off Malaysia's Sabah state in November. His companion Sabine Merz's body was later found on the boat. A deadline for a 30m peso (£483,000; $600,000) ransom expired on Sunday. Mr Kantner, 70, and Ms Merz had been abducted before. They were held for 52 days in 2008 by Somali pirates and were released after a ransom was paid. The video, reported by the SITE militancy-monitoring group, shows Mr Kantner being killed by a knife-wielding man. (BBC)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Sanctuary cities promote illegal immigration

Canada is dealing with an unprecedented surge in illegal migration. And rather than handling the influx with clarity and fairness—enforcing our laws and applying them equally—many in Canada are advocating for lawlessness. Some insist on copying the failed immigration policies of our American neighbours, for instance, the policy of sanctuary cities. Montreal city council, led by mayor and former immigration minister Denis Coderre, voted earlier this week to declare itself a ‘sanctuary city’ for illegal immigrants. (Toronto Sun)

Candice Malcolm: Opportunistic human traffickers mock Canada’s welcoming immigration system

With all the sympathetic news coverage in the mainstream media talking about refugees and their heart-wrenching journey to Canada, you’ve probably heard about the surge in refugees illegally entering Canada from the United States. (Rebel)

 

Mark Bonokoski: Sanctuary cities and asylum seekers are crap shoots

Warmer weather is coming. The snowbanks approaching Emerson, Man. — now one of the illegal gateways into Canada for asylum seekers fleeing the United States — will soon be gone. Unless measures are taken by the Trudeau government to stop this exodus, today’s relative trickle will become a torrent. (Toronto Sun)

Lorne Gunter: The backlash to political correctness was inevitable

Several times this week I’ve been warned by supporters of M-103, the anti-Islamophobia motion being debated in Parliament, that if the motion fails even more Muslim youth will become radicalized. They will feel discriminated against in Canada and more likely to fall victim to the hateful propaganda of ISIS or other radical Muslims. (Toronto Sun)

Lawrence Solomon: Canada’s one of NATO’s biggest deadbeats, but with Trump, we won’t get away with it anymore

NATO is the world’s most important military alliance, a noble one-for-all and all-for one pact among 28 countries of the free world that has kept Russia and other bad actors at bay in the postwar era. All member countries, rich and poor, committed to contributing their share to maintain NATO’s potency, but most of the 28 are laggards and a handful are deadbeats, contributing a pittance to their international responsibilities. Canada is one of those deadbeats, a particular embarrassment given that Canada is an affluent country and a founder of NATO. (National Post)

Jaime Watt: Immigration harmony will be tested in Canada

In many ways, it is surprising the Canadian détente over immigration and identity issues has lasted this long. While Canada has avoided the vitriolic debate that has roiled other developed countries, it is naïve to believe this unusual harmony will last. The number of immigrants admitted to Canada has steadily risen under successive governments, with little public dialogue beyond a tacit recognition that it was necessary for economic growth. Liberal and Conservative governments alike have limited changes in immigration policy to tinkering around the edges. (Toronto Star)

Penny Collenette: Sanctuary status may be more than cities can handle

The world has a massive problem on its hands. The numbers of displaced people fleeing persecution, conflict and genocide are staggering. The UN Refugee Agency estimates “an unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees. There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights.” (Toronto Star)

Margaret Wente: America’s spectacular immigration mess

America’s opinion-leaders are horrified at the prospect of Donald Trump’s deportation “surge.” He says his first priority is public safety. But the criminals and gang-bangers won’t be the only ones caught up in his net. The immigration crackdown will also target tens or hundreds of thousands of hard-working souls – maids, dishwashers, construction workers – who could be torn from their families, held in detention centres, and eventually deported back to impoverished villages across Mexico and Central America. Their only crime – apart from being in the country illegally – is doing the dirty work for pay that Americans won’t accept. (Globe and Mail)

Res Pagtakhan: 3 steps the government must take to regain control of immigration

The daily influx of refugee claimants arriving from the United States over the past month has thrown our country's immigration policy into disarray. In a country that carefully assigns target numbers for different types of immigrants, the constant influx of refugee claimants could throw our immigration objectives out of whack. (CBC)

Shachi Kurl: Tolerance for refugees has limits – even in Canada

Holding a mirror up to society and reflecting back what our society is, rather than what we think it is or want it to be, can be uncomfortable. Our latest poll on the resettlement of refugees – one that reveals Canadians do not appear to have an unlimited willingness or capacity to continue welcoming asylum-seekers at current rates – raised eyebrows and caused much wringing of hands. Where was this reticence coming from? And why? (Globe and Mail)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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