True North Initiative: News Scan 02 28 17

TOP STORIES

Documents reveal why Canada rejected dozens of Syrian refugee claimants

One had been a senior government official complicit in human rights abuses. Three had been involved in “subversion by force.” Another was considered a danger to the security of Canada. Government documents obtained by the National Post reveal why Canada rejected dozens of Syrians as refugees, and provide a “high-level overview” of the backgrounds of those who were selected. The refusal rate for Syrian refugees was 4 per cent according to the documents, which, though released only recently, date to the early stages of the Syrian refugee program, when the Liberal government was trying to fulfill a campaign promise to resettle 25,000 by the end of 2015. (National Post)

‘If it’s not strong, you can lose’: A look at the fast-paced process of making a refugee claim

For asylum seekers, illegally crossing into Canada is only half the battle of staying in the country permanently. It can take more than a year sometimes to receive permanent residency in Canada, but before that can happen, a number of things need to go right for asylum seekers. (Global News)

Asylum seeker met at the border by CBC relieved to be in Canada

A refugee from Somalia who CBC met just as he crossed into Canada early Sunday morning says he is feeling very good now that he is Winnipeg. Ismail Mohamed, 25, crossed over near Emerson, Man. after walking 22 hours in freezing temperatures on the weekend. "It was very, very bad for me," he said "It was night, it was very cold." (CBC)

Desperate times obscure Canada’s support in Iraq’s uncertain future

A baby’s cry pierces the din as dozens of people wait to see a doctor or nurse at what’s surely one of the busiest health clinics in the Middle East: inside a sprawling refugee camp that’s home to 18,000 displaced men, women and children. The clinic’s future is as unclear as that of its clientele. The facility is just one of several projects Canada is supporting in Iraq as part of its efforts to help those affected by the war against Daesh — help those on the front lines say is desperately needed. (Toronto Star) (CTV)

CSIS saw 'no high privacy risks' with metadata crunching: internal report

The national spy service saw little risk to the personal privacy of Canadians in a self-penned evaluation of its secret data-crunching centre — a shadowy program now at the centre of intense controversy, newly released documents show. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service centre touched off a firestorm late last year when a judge said CSIS had broken the law by keeping and analyzing the digital metadata of innocent people. (CBC)

Cyberspy service eyes political blackmail as part of democratic risk assessment

The threat of political blackmail could figure in a wide-ranging review of risks to Canada's electoral system, says a senior official from the national cyberspy agency. Safeguarding personal information on voters lists, ensuring election ballot tallies aren't manipulated and preventing fake news from swaying the public might also be part of the study, said Scott Jones of the Communications Security Establishment. (CTV)

Navy's mishandling of classified documents spawns series of investigations

The Canadian military conducted almost a dozen formal internal investigations into the "loss or compromise" of classified information during a six year period, and over half of them involved the navy, internal defence department data shows. The handling — or mishandling — of secrets was a growing concern among the top brass and civilian leadership even before the recent suspension of the country's deputy military commander, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. (CBC)

Turkey says U.S.-based cleric may be planning escape to Canada

Turkey’s deputy prime minister says his country has “serious” intelligence suggesting that a U.S.-based cleric wanted by Turkey may be planning to escape to Canada. Numan Kurtulmus told reporters Monday that intelligence gathered by Turkey indicated that followers of Fethullah Gulen had purchased “land and farms” in Canada. He said the Turkish government has shared this information with the U.S. Department of Justice. Turkey accuses Gulen of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in July and wants him extradited so that he may be put on trial. (Toronto Star)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Door knocks in the dark: The Canadian town on front line of Trump migrant crackdown

Jaime French was jarred out of bed in Emerson, Manitoba early one morning this month by pounding at her front door, just yards from the U.S. border. A face peered in through the window, flanked in the darkness by others. Outside were 16 asylum seekers, arriving at one of the first houses they saw after crossing a lightly monitored border between Canada and the United States. (Reuters)

Why America’s northern border is becoming a problem—for Canada

The current crop of refugees, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, are attracting special attention because their flight follows the election of Donald Trump as president and his controversial executive order on immigration. Those questioned by a representative of the UN High Commissioner of Refugees said they no longer feel safe in the United States, because of a rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric, and fear that their asylum requests will not be dealt with fairly. (The Economist)

Liberals’ heavy-handed health-care push just a chapter in endless political cycle

The Trudeau government is trying to bribe or blackmail the provincial premiers into making federal Liberal health-care priorities their own, by offering increased funding on the condition that some of the money is spent on mental health. This tactic resurrects the notion that Canada works best as a country when Ottawa convinces or compels the provinces to meet its nation-building priorities. This is the Liberal way. Conservatives offer a very different approach. Each has its season in the sun. (Global and Mail)

Even as economy improves, Tory MPs say Alberta needs tax break from Ottawa

An ailing Alberta needs help from the federal government even if economic growth is expected to return in 2017, say the province’s Conservative MPs. At events in Calgary and Edmonton Monday, the Conservative Opposition released the final report of its Alberta Jobs Task Force, an effort spurred by the province’s last two years of recession. (Calgary Herald) (Global)

Border services sets up emergency trailer to make space for refuge seekers

Two more asylum seekers were picked up by RCMP on Monday morning just minutes after the Canada Border Services Agency announced new resources to help with the influx of refugee claimants in southern Manitoba. RCMP said 143 asylum seekers have crossed on foot into Manitoba this year, including at least a dozen on Sunday and Monday. (CBC)

'Everything started to change': An asylum seeker explains why he illegally crossed into Canada

"I have to leave this country, I have to cross this border. I have to achieve my goal, I have to put my feet in a safe place," Tfeil recalled telling a U.S. border agent who warned him that if he left, he'd never be able to come back. (CBC)

UBC student going to court over referendum boycotting Israeli products

A UBC Student is going to court in a bid to stop a controversial student union referendum boycotting Israeli products. In a court filing, Logan Presch says the question, which calls for a ban on companies supporting alleged Israeli war crimes, is unconstitutional, toxic, and making students on campus feel unsafe. (CKNW)

The real goal of Trump's executive orders: Reduce the number of immigrants in the U.S.

Behind President Trump’s efforts to step up deportations and block travel from seven mostly Muslim countries lies a goal that reaches far beyond any immediate terrorism threat: a desire to reshape American demographics for the long term and keep out people who Trump and senior aides believe will not assimilate. In pursuit of that goal, Trump in his first weeks in office has launched the most dramatic effort in decades to reduce the country’s foreign-born population and set in motion what could become a generational shift in the ethnic makeup of the U.S. (LA Times)

UN defends refugee vetting as Trump mulls revised entry ban

In an office cubicle at the UN refugee agency, a Syrian woman and her three daughters took turns staring into a camera for iris scans. Their biometric registration, a first step toward possible resettlement in the West, is to be followed by interviews and background checks that can take months or even years. (CTV)

Trump wants $54B more in defence spending

The White House says Donald Trump's upcoming budget will propose a whopping $54-billion increase in defence spending and impose corresponding cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid. White House budget officials outlined the information during a telephone call with reporters given on condition of anonymity. The budget officials on the call ignored requests to put the briefing on the record, even though the U.S. president decried on Friday the use of anonymous sources by the media. (CBC)

Pentagon sends ISIS options to White House

The Pentagon has sent President Donald Trump what it calls a "preliminary framework" for options to ramp up the US battle against ISIS, in a plan he requested in order to make good on his campaign vow to crush the extremist group. (CNN)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Ricky Leung: Feds need to get on top of border

As refugees continue to make a bee-line for Canada from the continental United States, the federal government is demonstrating how there can be such a thing as too much caution. Speaking on a television news program this weekend, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Ottawa was taking a wait-and-see approach as it studies the influx of refugees entering Canada on foot, away official from border crossings. (Calgary Sun)

Penny Collenette: We must mind the gap between vision and reality of 'sanctuary cities'

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.” (Metro)

Margaret Wente: Trudeau needs to have a Merkel moment

The accident of geography has spared Canada the migrant torrent, so our hospitality has not been really tested. But don’t overestimate it. Most people feel we’re already doing plenty for the displaced people of the world. We also take in more legal immigrants per capita than almost anyone on the planet. Our social compact on immigration is precious, unusually sturdy – and increasingly rare. But if Canadians lose faith in the government’s ability to manage our borders, all bets are off. (Globe and Mail)

Matthew Fisher: Canadian Forces studying options for potential Syrian operation

The Canadian military has begun to study options for an operation in Syria, for the Liberal government to consider as U.S. president Donald Trump hints he may expand the 16-year-old war on terrorism by sending more troops to that country after the offensive to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIL concludes. (National Post)

Raheel Raza: M-103 won’t build a more united Canada. It will turn Canadians against each other

On Dec. 5, 2016, Canadian MP Iqra Khalid proposed Motion 103 (a motion against Islamophobia) and began her statement in parliament by saying, “Mr. Speaker, I am a young, brown, Muslim, Canadian woman …” I find it curious that she begins by identifying herself first as brown, then Muslim and lastly as a Canadian. To my understanding, a Canadian member of parliament should identify as Canadian first. Being Canadian means showing concern for everyone, not just a select group of people. Perhaps this may be the reason why Khalid has not studied what Islamophobia really means. (National Post)

John Ivison: Democracy, Liberal style, returns in nomination battle for vacant Ontario riding

“This is the most open political party in the country,” said Liberal communications director Braeden Caley as he defended his party’s conduct in the nomination fight in the vacant Markham-Thornhill riding in Ontario. Perhaps if that country were one of the less corrupt Silk Road ‘Stans. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

 

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