True North Initiative: News Scan 03 08 17

TOP STORIES

Seventy per cent of Conservative voters say government should not let illegal asylum seekers stay in Canada: Forum poll

Seventy per cent of Conservative voters surveyed said the Canadian government should not allow asylum seekers, including those who have been crossing into Manitoba with growing frequency, to stay in the country, according to data compiled by Forum Research and exclusively provided to The Hill Times. Out of all respondents who were asked whether the federal government should allow asylum seekers to remain in Canada after entering illegally, those who identified as Conservative supporters were the most opposed. (Hill Times)

Keep calm and plan on, federal ministers told on asylum seeker influx

Canada's national police force and border watchdog say they have the resources they need -- for now -- to deal with the influx of people entering the country illegally in search of asylum, the federal minister in charge said Tuesday. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the heads of the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency briefed the federal cabinet behind closed doors, and made no financial demands on the government. But one what-if scenario was on everyone's mind during a meeting that lasted about 45 minutes: hundreds of asylum seekers suddenly becoming thousands when the weather turns warm. (CTV)

 

Ottawa braces for rise in asylum seekers fleeing U.S.

Federal officials are preparing for all scenarios involving the influx of asylum seekers from the United States, from a further rise in numbers in coming weeks to spring floods that could put migrants at risk in Manitoba. The heads of the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency have reassured the Liberal cabinet that they have enough resources to control the current situation, while providing the government with plans for all foreseeable situations. (Globe and Mail)

 

Refugee advocates worry Canada will push U.S. for border crackdown

On the eve of the U.S. homeland security secretary’s visit to Canada, refugee advocates worry Ottawa could ask the Americans to beef up border enforcement to curb the flow of asylum-seekers coming into the country. The surge of illegal crossings in recent months is expected to be a key issue on the agenda between Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and U.S. Secretary John Kelly. “They have done it in the past and started arresting people coming up at the border. Canadian officials can ask the Americans to boost enforcement,” said Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “It would be really disturbing if Canada is going to push the U.S. to do that.” (Toronto Star)

 

Canada's refugee acceptance rate peaked in four years

Canada’s refugee acceptance rate shot up drastically last year with two out of three claims granted asylum, according to latest data from the Immigration and Refugee Board. In total, adjudicators rendered 5,414 positive decisions and rejected 2,732 claims out of 9,171 decisions made. The rest were either abandoned or withdrawn by the claimants. The 2016 refugee acceptance rate, at 66.1 per cent, is the highest since the revamp of the asylum processing system by the former Conservative government in 2012. It surpassed the rates in the previous years — 38.1 per cent in 2013, 38.8 in 2014 and 45.5 per cent in 2015. (Toronto Star)

 

Freeland knew her grandfather was editor of Nazi newspaper

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland knew for more than two decades that her maternal Ukrainian grandfather was the chief editor of a Nazi newspaper in occupied Poland that vilified Jews during the Second World War. Ms. Freeland’s family history has become a target for Russian forces seeking to discredit one of Canada’s highly placed defenders of Ukraine. Ms. Freeland, who has paid tribute to her maternal grandparents in an articles and books, helped edit a scholarly article in the Journal of Ukrainian Studies in 1996 that revealed her grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was a Nazi propagandist for Krakivski Visti (Krakow News). (Globe and Mail)

 

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau’s Facebook post sparks debate

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau is taking heat from some Facebook users over her post calling for the celebration of men who encourage women, on the eve of International Women’s Day. The post, showing Grégoire-Trudeau holding hands with her husband, reads: “This week, as we mark International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the boys and men in our lives who encourage us to be who we truly are, who treat girls & women with respect, and who aren’t afraid to speak up in front of others.” She urged people to “take a picture holding hands with your male ally & share it on social media using the hashtag #TomorrowInHand. Together, we can create a movement that inspires more men to join the fight to build a better tomorrow with equal rights & opportunities for everyone . . . because #EqualityMatters.” (Toronto Star)

 

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Federal government to table budget on March 22 amid Trump-related uncertainty

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will introduce the federal government's latest budget on March 22 — his first amid the economic uncertainty of the Donald Trump era. The budget, the Trudeau government's second since the 2015 election, comes as Ottawa and corporate Canada scramble to assess the risks of possible and unpredictable policy actions from the country's top trading partner. (Vancouver Sun)

Refugee board in Ontario much less likely to release detainees than in rest of Canada: analysis

Non-Canadians detained for immigration infractions are almost three times less likely to be released in Ontario than those detained in the rest of Canada, an analysis of internal Immigration and Refugee Board data suggests. The variance in rates of release between regions are so stark that even the most lenient Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) decision-maker based in Toronto has a lower release record than the harshest IRB member based in Vancouver. (National Post)

What are Canadians’ rights at the US border? Slim to none

When Canadians enter the United States they should be ready to answer any question asked by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials — and be prepared to be turned away. “Every person who applies for admission to the U.S. — meaning who crosses the border to be a visitor — is subject to inspection and no one is entitled to enter the U.S., except a U.S. citizen,” said Cassandra Fultz, who works as a regulated Canadian immigration consultant in Toronto. (Global News)

What to expect when you cross the Canada-U.S. border

The unions that represent America’s border control officers and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents want everyone to know their morale is up—way up—thanks to Donald Trump. In a joint press release, they exclaimed that the President’s executive orders “empowered” those working on the border’s front lines, the first line of defence in deciding who gets in and who gets turned away from the Land of the Free. But morale is not quite so high for many Canadians lining up to enter Trump’s America, wondering just what to expect. (Macleans)

Search and interrogate: What you need to know when crossing U.S. border

Canadian passport holders in recent weeks have shared troubling stories about their experiences at U.S. border checkpoints, spurring privacy and legal concerns about what travellers should expect. The short answer is everything and anything, says Toronto-based immigration lawyer Heather Segal. "The Trump order is going to be read as giving tacit approval to all sorts of things that may or may not be legal," Segal told CBC's Metro Morning, referring to the new executive order issued Tuesday (CBC)

No idea what I'm going to do,' says man deported to Netherlands after nearly 6 decades in Canada

A 59-year-old B.C. man who had lived in Canada since he was a baby arrived in Amsterdam today after being deported to the Netherlands because of his criminal offences, which he says were due to his mental illness. Len Van Heest was met at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol by his cousin Monique Lemstra, according to his brother, Daniel, who lives in North Vancouver. "We have put in place a secure system for Len, where he feels secure and happy and is well cared for via our relatives in the Netherlands," said Daniel Van Heest. (CBC)

Federal government to axe 'zombie laws' from Canada's Criminal Code

The federal government is moving to clean up Canada's Criminal Code by stripping so-called "zombie laws" from the books. Criminal justice experts have been calling on Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to reform the code they say is filled with outdated laws, duplications and inconsistent language. She is scheduled to make an announcement at 3:30 p.m. ET Wednesday on Parliament Hill on plans to amend the code. (CBC)

Syrian children show symptoms of 'toxic stress' after 6 years of war, report says

Six years of violence and bloodshed in Syria have spawned a mental health crisis among the country's children, says the international charity Save the Children. In a report it called the largest mental health survey inside Syria during the war, the group found children increasingly affected by fear or anger. "We've all witnessed from a distance how horrifying this war has been," Cicely McWilliam told CBC News, from Save the Children's Toronto office. (CBC)

8 German citizens on trial for allegedly forming far-right terror group

Eight Germans went on trial Tuesday in the city of Dresden for allegedly forming a far-right terrorist organization and carrying out bombing attacks on asylum-seeker facilities and left-wing political targets. Prosecutors have accused the defendants — seven men and one woman between the ages of 19 and 39 — of forming the “Freital Group,” named after a Dresden suburb that has seen a number of anti-refugee protests and attacks. (Toronto Star)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Rahim Mohamed: A Brief History of the Ismailis in Canada

At a time when an increasing number of politicians throughout the West are showing skepticism toward Muslim immigration — particularly raising questions about the ability of Muslims to successfully integrate into Western societies — the history of the Ismailis in Canada serves as a timely reminder of the need to reject crude, one-dimensional depictions of Islam. It’s a story worth revisiting. (Policy Options)

Anthony Furey: Leitch’s questions are just like Denmark’s

What an intolerable bigot! Let’s drive her out of kumbaya Canada! Oh, wait. My bad. I have several screens open on my computer at the same time and got confused. These aren’t Leitch’s proposals after all. They’re lines from an instructional video that immigrants to Denmark must watch to prepare for their citizenship test, which includes many questions about cultural values. (Toronto Sun)

Scott Gilmore: Does Canada have too many immigrants?

Populism, at face value, seems almost healthy. Or at least to me it does. I was raised in Alberta, a populist heartland. It was accepted as a fact that the government chronically ignores “the people.” Men like Ralph Klein, who drank in a rundown pub and boasted about his lack of education did well there. Ralph, as he was universally known, painted himself as an outsider, the only one looking out for the roughnecks and the farmhands. And we ate it up. (Macleans)

Andy J. Semotiuk: Trump Immigration Crackdown Puts Pressure On Canada

It's too early to definitively comment on the legality of Trump's new immigration executive order signed Monday. However, the lingering anti-Muslim animus previously expressed by Trump during the Presidential election campaign permeates the new "Trump Lite" order. Like his previous aborted order, this new one fails to identify the countries that have been linked to terrorists who previously caused harm in the United States, most notably Saudi Arabia. So the criticism of aiming at the wrong target countries, namely, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen, still applies. (Forbes)

John Geddes: Canada’s last lines of defence against populism

A week after Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States last Nov. 8, Conservative MP Ted Falk rose in the House of Commons during the time set aside for “members’ statements,” which falls just before question period and is, as a rule, politely ignored. Falk represents the Manitoba riding of Provencher, hard by the windswept Minnesota border, and he spoke briefly of the “special relationship we have with our long-time friends and neighbours” to the south. Then he finished up with, “May God continue to bless America—God bless Donald Trump.” (Macleans)

Tim Powers: Liberal nomination process: so much for openness and transparency

Old habits die hard. Witness the Liberal Party of Canada’s nomination process, if you can call it that, in Markham-Thornhill, Ont. where a former senior staffer in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office is now the Liberal candidate. While I don’t know Mary Ng, the former director of appointments in Trudeau’s office and now the Liberal standard-bearer in Markham-Thornhill, those who do speak extremely highly of her. Based on her experience and pedigree, she has the potential to be an excellent Member of Parliament. She also would seem to be the type of candidate any party would want to recruit. (Hill Times)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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