True North Initiative: News Scan 03 07 17

TOP STORIES

Refugee claims soar at Quebec-U.S. border, new figures show

There were seven times more refugee claims at Quebec's land border in February than in the same month a year earlier, according to new statistics provided by the Canada Border Services Agency.  A total of 724 people made claims last month after crossing into the province from the U.S. by land, compared with 99 in February 2016. In January, 452 people claimed asylum at Quebec border crossings — a 230 per cent increase from January 2016. (CBC)

Tory leadership candidate Kellie Leitch wants immigrants to be asked: 'Are men and women equal?'

If one Conservative leadership candidate has her way, immigrants hoping to start a new life in Canada will be pressed for their views on women's equality, the use of violence and how to provide for their families. In a sponsored email sent out by the conservative website TheRebel.media, Kellie Leitch promises that if she becomes Conservative leader, and then prime minister, she would require each immigrant to Canada to be screened for Canadian values. (CBC) (IPolitics)

Trump signs new travel ban directive

President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order placing a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations. Iraq - which was covered in the previous seven-nation order - has been removed from the new one after agreeing to additional visa vetting measures. The directive, which includes a 120-day ban on all refugees, takes effect on 16 March. The previous order, which was blocked by a federal court, sparked confusion at airports and mass protests. (BBC)

Liberals reviewing revised Trump travel ban to see if it affects Canadians

A delay in implementation of the new iteration of U.S. President Donald Trump‘s controversial immigration ban has bought Canadian officials some breathing room as they try to figure out whether anyone in Canada could be affected by new executive order unveiled Monday. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the Canadian government will review the revised version to fully understand what’s at stake, but for the moment it appears Canadian citizens or permanent residents will be treated as they always have been. (Global News) (Metro)

Emerson MP says asylum seekers abuse Canada's 'generous' immigration policies

The Conservative MP for Emerson, Man., is taking aim at Justin Trudeau over the number of asylum seekers crossing the U.S.-Canada border near the small town and using the prime minister’s own words to do so. In a video posted to Facebook on Saturday, Ted Falk delivers a statement to Trudeau while standing at the border near Emerson-Franklin where RCMP confirm 183 people have walked into Manitoba so far this year. (Metro) (Daily Caller)

Habib's statements obtained during 'Mr. Big' sting are admissible, judge rules

A Quebec Court judge ruled Monday that statements made by Ismaël Habib and secretly recorded by undercover police are admissible in court, meaning they can be used against him as his terrorism-related trial continues. Habib, 29, was charged in March with attempting to leave Canada to participate in a terrorist group – ISIL – and giving false information to obtain a passport. He is the second Quebecer, and the first adult, to be tried on travel for terrorism charges. (Montreal Gazette) (CTV)

Liberals played politics during House of Commons break with blizzard of cheque handouts worth $1.25B

It was a blizzard of cheque handouts from MPs the likes of which has never been seen in the nearly decade-old National Post database that tracks each and every federal government spending announcement. Last week, with the House of Commons in recess, Liberal MPs announced 188 loans, grants, contributions and government contract awards worth a combined $1.25 billion. (National Post)

Human rights, cyber security to be part of Canada-China free trade consultations

The federal government wants Canadians to air their concerns about China's human rights record as part of broad consultations on a possible free trade deal. Business leaders are also being asked to weigh in on a major cybersecurity issue: how to minimize the possibility of the Communist government prying into their commercial dealings in China. The Liberal government served notice in recent days that it wants to hear from a broad range of Canadians on the proposed free trade deal. (Metro)

Chrystia Freeland: Canadians Should Be 'Prepared' For Russian Efforts To Destabilize Political System

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canadians should be "prepared" for Russian attempts to destabilize the country's political system like those directed at the United States. At a press conference with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, where the government announced it is extending its training mission with Ukraine until 2019, Freeland was asked about a series of articles on pro-Russian websites alleging one of her grandparents was a Nazi sympathizer. (Huffington Post)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Denied entry: Canadian citizen from LaSalle told she needed visa at U.S. border

A LaSalle woman who is a Canadian citizen has been denied entry to the U.S., sparking more criticism of U.S. border officials and raising questions about racial discrimination.

Manpreet Kooner attempted to visit Vermont Sunday, only to be told at the Highgate Springs border that she needs a visa to enter the country. “We gave in our passports and that’s when we were asked to come inside to be questioned,” Kooner said. She and her friends were supposed to spend the day at a spa, but instead, she had to head to the U.S. embassy in Ottawa trying to determine what to do. “My goal here to try to fix it,” said Kooner, 30, who is of Indian descent and was born in Montreal to parents who came to Canada in the 1960s.

Kooner believes she was flagged because she'd been refused entry to the U.S. in December due to what was then described by border guards as a ‘computer glitch’ that was sorted out. (CTV)

Ottawa urged to act on Canadian citizens being denied entry to U.S.

The Liberal government is being pressed to defend Canadian passport holders as cases multiply of Quebecers being turned away from the U.S. border for mysterious reasons. But so far, Ottawa has little to reassure travellers nervous about being profiled based on their religion or ethnicity. On Sunday, Montreal resident Manpreet Kooner was denied entry to the U.S. when she tried to cross into Vermont from Stanstead, Que. She was told she needed a visa, but border agents refused to give her details about what kind. (CBC)

Kevin O'Leary wants immigration 'loophole' closed

Refugees who cross illegally into Canada from the United States are exploiting a “loophole” that should be closed, federal Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary says. In a series of tweets Monday, O’Leary said people arriving from the United States to escape its tightened borders are taking the place of legitimate refugees who are trying to get into Canada through legal means. (Canoe)

Canada Immigration Lawyers: Asylum-Seekers Find More Success Here Than In U.S.

Bundled against bone-chilling cold, asylum-seekers hoping to gain refugee status in Canada have been trudging through ditches and fields along the border with the United States. Many have already had refugee or asylum claims turned down in the U.S. and feel they may have more success in Canada. That assumption, say some immigration lawyers, is correct. "I think that there is a lack of access to justice (for claimants in the United States),'' said Bashir Khan, an immigration lawyer in Winnipeg. (Huffington Post) (Metro)

Beds filled up at Salvation Army as surge of asylum seekers cross into Manitoba

After another weekend of asylum seekers crossing into Manitoba, the beds at Winnipeg's Salvation Army are full. Salvation Army's Major Rob Kerr says they were packed to capacity all weekend long. "We had filled every bed we had available for refugee claimants," he said. Between 73 to 84 beds were claimed for those purposes on each night between Friday and Saturday. Kerr said they have taken in as many people as possible without jeopardizing any of the organization's other programs. They are trying to reallocate space again in the building but Kerr said even then they will only be able to house a maximum of 100 people. (CBC)

Federal Liberals 40%, Conservatives 31%, NDP 17%, Greens 5% in Nanos tracking

The latest Nanos federal ballot tracking has the Liberals at 39.6 per cent, the Conservatives at 30.5 per cent, the NDP at 17.2 per cent, the Greens at 5.1 per cent and the BQ at 5.0 per cent. (Nanos Research)

Liberals extend Ukraine mission to 2019, but face criticism for not doing more

The Liberal government on Monday extended its military training mission in Ukraine, amid warnings Russia could attempt to “destabilize” Canada’s political system. But while largely welcomed by the Ukrainian government, the extension is being criticized by the Opposition for not going far enough in helping deal with a new outbreak of violence in the country. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canadian military trainers will remain in Ukraine until at least March 2019. (City News)

Gold Star father's Toronto speech cancelled as travel rights are 'reviewed': organizer

A Muslim Gold Star father who famously offered to lend Donald Trump his copy of the U.S. Constitution has cancelled a scheduled speech in Toronto because “his travel privileges are being reviewed,” according to the event organizer. (CTV)

Some permanent residents of Canada can be barred from U.S. under Trump order

Permanent residents of Canada with citizenship from any of six Muslim-majority countries can be denied entry to the United States under the new version of U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban. After Trump issued the first version of the 90-day ban in January, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said he had been assured by the White House that permanent residents could go to the U.S. as usual. But the language of the second version is not nearly so straightforward. The revised ban, signed by Trump on Monday, explicitly says that a “landed immigrant” from Canada needs to apply for a “waiver” that “may” be granted, on a “case-by-case basis,” at the discretion of a consular officer or another official from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (Toronto Star)

US begins deploying missile defence system in South Korea

The US says it has begun deploying the first parts of a controversial missile defence system in South Korea. The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (Thaad) is designed to protect against threats from North Korea. The move to begin installing the system comes a day after the North launched four ballistic missiles, breaking international sanctions. (BBC)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Anthony Furey: A Canada without enforced borders is no Canada at all

The whole reason Canada exists is because John A. Macdonald and his like-minded colleagues wanted to make a clear distinction between our land and America. As they looked southward with anxiety at the America forming in the aftermath of the Civil War, they knew that without Confederation – and everything it entailed, such as federal borders – there’d be little to keep Britain interested in our survival and stop the patchwork lands of Canada from being annexed. (Toronto Sun)

John Ivison: Immigration focus should be on outcomes, not values

“Do you beat your wife?” Conservative leadership candidate, Kellie Leitch, released her list of “Canadian values” test questions for immigrants Monday. They landed the same day that news broke in the U.S. about a questionnaire put out by Oklahoma Republican, John Bennett, to any Muslim constituents hoping to meet him. The question above came from that questionnaire. (National Post)

Neil Macdonald: Liberals' anti-Islamophobia motion is a politically brilliant, sinister piece of work

The motion, nominally authored by Liberal backbencher Iqra Khalid, calls on the federal government to condemn "Islamophobia" and all other forms of mean and nasty and racist speech, and, further, to immediately study how to quell hate and fear and generally figure out a way to make Canadians be nicer to each other. All of which sounds lovely. Captain Kirk ran around the galaxy delivering a similar message to bigoted aliens for years. But the ability of earthly governments to impose such goals is beyond dubious. Suasion seldom works; society is a stew of prejudice and tribalism, and nobody I know pays the slightest attention to government moralizing. (CBC)

Jerry Agar: Why are we catering to illegal migrants?

Our national debate on immigration policy should not be about any particular race, religion or country of origin. It should be about whether we are a nation of laws, or of the latest political whim. Currently, it is about illegal immigrants and illegal refugees, not about legal immigrants and genuine refugees, the latter of whom we continue to welcome. So, how did we get to the point where the law only matters until politicians decide that some people who are not even legal members of our society don’t have to follow it? (Toronto Sun)

Chantal Hebert: Trudeau’s Liberals slow to appoint parliamentary watchdogs

Almost 18 months into a majority mandate, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has yet to appoint a single parliamentary watchdog. That is not for lack of a vacancy to fill. Four of the eight strategic positions of officers of Parliament are currently without a permanent holder. Never in recent memory has a party in power taken so long to replace so many watchdogs. In each and every case, the Liberals were given plenty of time to find a replacement. (Toronto Star)

Andrew Coyne: Tory leadership race reviving interest in cutting income taxes — and it’s about time

One of the more encouraging trends in the Conservative leadership race has been the revival of interest in cutting personal income taxes. This is newsworthy: not only has the top marginal tax rate in Canada not been cut in three decades, but rates at both the federal and provincial levels have been creeping up in recent years. The top combined rate in Canada’s two largest provinces is now around 54 per cent — among the highest in the OECD — even as the Republican Congress is preparing to make sharp cuts in taxes south of the border. (National Post)

Ujjal Dosanjh: Are We Up to the Challenges of Building a Diverse and Harmonious Canada?

Two recently leaked draft reports of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), prepared for the White House in relation to the proposed revised travel ban on immigrants from the Muslim countries named in the original ban stayed by the US Courts, reached conclusions that Canada will do well to not ignore. (Canadian Press)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

  • Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development meet later today to continue study on Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act & Special Economic Measures Act (8:45AM EST) (In Camera)
  • Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration met yesterday to meet with Immigration Consultants and discuss the Modernization of Client Service Delivery (3:30PM EST) (Partly in Public/In Camera)