True North Initiative: News Scan 03 10 17

TOP STORIES

Rejection rate on the rise for Canadians at U.S. border

The growing number of stories about Canadians turned away at the American border is more than just an anecdotal trend: Statistics show the United States is turning away visitors from Canada at an increasing rate. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is scheduled to meet with members of the Trudeau government in Ottawa on Friday in an encounter likely to be dominated by the growing issue of asylum seekers walking into Canada from the United States. But numbers compiled by The Globe and Mail from agencies in Canada and the United States show the border is becoming a escalating problem for southbound Canadian travellers. (Globe and Mail)

Canada-US border in spotlight before Secretary Kelly visit

A series of recent incidents at the US border has led to questions in Canada over whether people are facing more scrutiny and tougher measures at the international boundary. The answer is not entirely clear. Canadian Fadwa Alaoui had planned a quick trip to the United States in early February for a day of shopping in Vermont. She did not expect to be turned away after a four-and-a-half hour ordeal. Ms Alaoui's case is one of a handful of reports of Canadians facing border troubles in recent months. (BBC)

Stateless U.S. residents claiming refugee status in Canada expected to increase, lawyer says

Canadian immigration lawyer Richard Kurland says he expects to see an influx of refugee claims in Canada from stateless residents who have been living in the U.S. for decades. "We expect to see a rush in Canada of a very large number of people from the United States with immigration problems," said Kurland. (CBC)

Federal plan to fast-track foreign talent could capitalize on Trump's crackdown

The federal government will launch a new program to fast-track "low-risk, high-talent" foreign workers to Canada this June. The plan sets a two-week turnaround for processing visas and short-term work permits to give startups faster access to highly skilled workers.  "Canada certainly could benefit from some of the international talent affected by the actions in the U.S. recently," said Patrick Snider, director of skills and immigration policy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "That being said, we have to expect other countries will also look to capitalize on this moment as well." (CBC)

Senate proposes major amendment to Liberal citizenship legislation: ‘It goes a long way’

The Liberal government’s update to immigration law is poised to be changed by the Senate after a major amendment was introduced Thursday. Elaine McCoy, who acts as a “facilitator” for a de facto caucus of independent senators, tabled the amendment during debate over the third reading of Bill C-6. If someone is served notice their citizenship is being revoked due to fraud or misrepresentation, the amendment requires the immigration minister to inform them of their right to appeal that decision in Federal Court. (National Post)

Why are thousands of refugees to Canada still waiting to be processed?

Canada’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis has received international praise, however some critics are putting the spotlight on where the federal government may be falling short. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was applauded at the UN General Assembly in September when he spoke about how Canada has welcomed Syrian refugees with open arms. But in Middle East countries neighbouring Syria, an estimated 5,000 refugees are still waiting, despite being already matched with private sponsors in Canada. (CTV)

Manitoba premier says Ottawa has not replied to request for refugee aid

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has yet to respond to Manitoba’s call for help in dealing with an influx of asylum-seekers crossing the border from the United States, Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday. Pallister said he wrote to Trudeau more than a week ago to ask for money for housing, welfare, language training, legal aid and other services for border-crossers. “We have limited resources like, frankly, all provinces, but more so because of the financial situation we’ve inherited. And it is unfair to stand by and watch … while others are doing the heavy lifting,” Pallister said. (680 News)

CSIS ordered to hand over secret records about recruit paid to infiltrate an ISIL network in Ottawa

An Ontario Superior Court judge has ordered Canada’s spy agency to reveal its secret records — including financial dealings — about a prized agent who was paid to infiltrate an ISIL network in Ottawa. It’s a decision that could give the public rare insight into the inner workings of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service — from how they recruited an informant, to how they tested his reliability, to how much they paid him for his intel. (National Post)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Former CSIS official, foreign affairs critics urge Liberal government to fight for release of Canadian citizen from Egyptian prison

Politicians, activists and a former top CSIS official are calling on the federal government to demand the early release of Canadian citizen Mohamed El Attar from an Egyptian prison. “The fact that I’m here speaks volumes to the fact that Mr. El Attar is innocent,” Andy Ellis, former assistant director of operations for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, said in Ottawa Thursday. “Mr. El Attar is a Canadian like we’re all Canadians. He’s a human being like we’re all human beings. He deserves the mercy and support of all Canadians, and he deserves, frankly, the mercy and support of the Egyptian government.” (National Post)

She was left at his door as an infant but immigration officials say she's not his daughter

Refugee Zuan Zhong tried to bring his wife and daughter to Canada and was thwarted when the daughter's DNA didn't match her either of her parents. The parents have cared for her since 1997, when she was left as an infant at his door. (Toronto Star)

Haitian migrants hope to make it to Canada, as Toronto seeks help to deal with refugee influx

Hundreds of Haitian migrants who travelled to Tijuana, Mexico hoping to cross the U.S. border and be granted asylum say they're now setting their sights on Canada. Radio-Canada went to the border city to speak with dozens of migrants, who have the support of several groups that want to bring them to Toronto. However, this city is already feeling the pressure of an influx of would-be refugees in its shelter system. (CBC)

Trudeau says he will succeed on energy where his father and Stephen Harper failed

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his speech to the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas to say he will succeed on the energy file where his father and former prime minister Stephen Harper failed. Trudeau said the National Energy Program hurt both growth and jobs while the Conservatives failed to understand that the economy and climate change are linked. "Our immediate predecessors tried a different route for 10 years, to ignore the environment. It didn't work, any more than the NEP of the 1980s worked. They couldn't move forward on big energy projects," Trudeau said. (CBC)

The case of the Canadian with eight citizenships, and why the world’s rich covet ‘backup’ passports

Lesperance said his client didn’t start out Canadian; he was an American-born businessman. But at the end of his citizenship spree, he had collected a portfolio of passports via economic citizenship and residency that spanned both sides of the Atlantic, from Belize to Britain. Along the way he became a Canadian, too, and renounced his US citizenship. (South China Morning Post)

Refugees who sheltered Edward Snowden seek Canada asylum

Refugees who sheltered rogue National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in Hong Kong are seeking asylum in Canada. The three families' lawyers have filed claims on their behalf. Some city legislators say two Sri Lankan nationals have been targeted by police from their own country who have travelled to Hong Kong. (BBC)

US immigration: 50 extra judges to help tackle backlog

The US Department of Justice is deploying 50 judges to immigration detention centres to clear a backlog of more than half a million cases. The judges will boost President Trump's push to toughen enforcement of the law on illegal immigration. In January he issued an executive order aiming to speed up deportations and hold migrants in detention centres until their cases can be heard. (BBC)

Two die in protests after South Korean president removed from office

South Korea has been plunged into a period of political uncertainty after the President, Park Geun-hye, was forced out of office by a corruption scandal. The country's Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach Park over allegations of corruption and cronyism. She becomes the country's first democratically elected leader to be forcibly removed. (CNN)

Trump travel ban: More US states launch legal challenges

Several US states have joined Hawaii in a legal challenge against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban. Mr Trump signed an executive order placing a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim countries on Monday. New York maintains the new directive is a ban on Muslims while Washington says it is harmful to the state. Oregon and Massachusetts later also joined. (BBC)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Chris Selley: The Trudeau Liberals’ weirdness managed to get even weirder on International Women’s Day

I am clearly not Justin Trudeau’s target audience. I don’t mean his policies: I support some, oppose some, worry many are undeliverable and will collapse in a cynicism-breeding heap. I mean the way he carries himself. When he delivered his “because it’s 2015” zinger, I wondered why he would be so glib; why not talk up some of his very accomplished female cabinet ministers? Then I noticed a fair chunk of the Canadian population had collapsed in an appreciative swoon. Maybe it was a pretty good line, I thought. Maybe I’m just a crank. (National Post)

Terry Glavin: This is Canada’s real refugee problem

It’s good to know that with all the shouting about refugees that’s been going on lately, most Canadians seem to be keeping their cool. The federal government’s latest tracking poll on attitudes toward immigrants and refugees, released March 1, shows that fewer than a third of us think Canada’s refugee intake is too high. Two of every five Canadians think what Canada’s doing about refugees is just about right. But a confluence of misapprehensions in both Canada and the United States could quickly jinx things. (Macleans)

Don Martin: Parks Canada's bizarre political correctness blocks movie in Banff

There is a visceral connection between Canadians and our 40 national parks. Almost 2.5 million of us have already snapped up free passes to visit them during our 150th birth year.

But while we trust and need Parks Canada to keep those wilderness jewels pristine, we do not need its bureaucrats vetoing movie productions asking to use Rocky Mountain scenery as a backdrop. They did just that this month, icing an application to shoot a film called Hard Powder in Banff because the plot had an aboriginal gang leader murdering the son of a snowplow driver, who then sets out for revenge. (CTV)

Stephanie Levitz: Are asylum seekers walking across the border into Canada actually breaking the law?

Since the start of 2017, there’s been a marked increase in the number of people arriving in Canada from the U.S. to seek asylum. More than 1,000 people have filed refugee claims at the Quebec-U.S. border since January, compared with about 200 during the same time last year. In Manitoba, at least 107 people have filed asylum claims at the border since January, compared with 45 in the first two months of last year. (Global)

Paul Wells: War is hell and Chrystia Freeland has nothing to be ashamed of

The news this week is that Chrystia Freeland’s maternal grandfather worked on a Nazi-operated newspaper in Krakow during the war. Canada’s foreign minister would prefer not to say so. When first asked about it at a news conference on Monday, she bobbed and weaved. It’s “public knowledge that there have been efforts, as U.S. intelligence forces have said, by Russia to destabilize the U.S. political system,” Freeland said. “I think that Canadians, and indeed other western countries, should be prepared for similar efforts to be directed at us.” (Toronto Star)

Michael Harris: From Russia with loathing: Freeland and the media

This week, one of the true stars of Canadian journalism, Bob Fife, published a story in the Globe & Mail that made waves. And for good reason. It hit all the hot buttons from bygone wars. According to Fife’s story, Freeland had known for 20 years that her maternal Ukrainian grandfather was the chief editor of a Nazi-controlled newspaper in occupied Poland. (IPolitics)

John Robson: Niki Ashton isn’t afraid to confront the ‘elites,’ except the one in the mirror

MP Niki Ashton is the latest populist seeking to save us from “the elites.” In announcing her bid for the federal NDP leadership she said “We need strong leadership to stand up to the elites in Canada and the elite politics … that are holding us back.” Drat those elites. Incidentally Wikipedia says Ashton is the daughter of a provincial cabinet minister who studied at the Li Po Chun United World College in Hong Kong as well as Carleton for an MA and the University of Manitoba, where she is getting her PhD, and speaks four languages fluently and is learning five others. Drat those elites. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

  • Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met yesterday to study the Situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia 25 Years after the End of the Cold War (Public)
  • Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration met Wednesday to meet with Immigration Consultants and discuss the Modernization of Client Service Delivery (Public)