True North Initiative: News Scan 03 22 17

TOP STORIES

7 things to watch for in today's federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau's second federal budget isn't expected to match last year's big-ticket spending commitments. The big Liberal moves for the middle class rolled out for 2016. The 12-year infrastructure plan was the headline of the fall economic statement. The cupboard is bare now. Liberals are borrowing for the foreseeable future. So, what's likely in 2017? Smaller, strategic moves. Here's what to look for. (Globe and Mail) (CBC)

Justin Trudeau's trip to Aga Khan's Bahamas island cost more than $127K

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's controversial family vacation to a private island in the Bahamas owned by the Aga Khan cost Canadian taxpayers more than $127,000, including thousands of dollars in per diems for government employees who also made the trip. According to documents tabled in the House of Commons, overtime and shift differentials alone for the RCMP officers who accompanied him cost $18,735. The force paid another $53,253 in travel, accommodation and per diem costs. (CBC)

Liberals plan spring legislation to revamp controversial anti-terror bill: Goodale

The federal Liberals plan to introduce legislation this spring to revamp the Conservative anti-terrorism bill known as C-51, the public safety minister says. The package could include other measures that flow from the government’s recently concluded national security consultation, Ralph Goodale said in an interview. The Liberals promised during the last election to repeal “problematic elements” of omnibus security legislation ushered in by the previous Conservative government after a gunman stormed Parliament Hill. (Globe and Mail)

Don’t blame Trump for asylum-seekers, says immigration minister

The wave of asylum-seekers crossing from the United States into Canada was not spurred by the immigration policies of the Donald Trump government in the U.S., says Canada’s immigration minister. Asylum claims began rising in 2015. Mr. Trump won the presidential election late last year and was inaugurated earlier this year. A survey of those who crossed into Manitoba from the U.S. last month found that 97 per cent had spent less than two months in the United States before heading North, Ahmed Hussen (York South-Weston, Ont.) told the House Immigration Committee on March 20. (Hill Times)

RCMP caught nearly half as many illegal border crossers this year as in all of 2016

Data released Tuesday shows that the RCMP have arrested nearly half as many illegal border crossers in three Canadian provinces this year as they did in all of 2016. Figures provided by the federal government show that in the first two months of this year, the RCMP intercepted 1,134 people -- 677 were in Quebec, 161 in Manitoba, 291 in British Columbia and five in Saskatchewan. Statistics previously provided by the Immigration Department had revealed 2,464 were apprehended in 2016 at three unofficial crossing points in Quebec, Manitoba and B.C. (CTV) (CBC)

Flight ban on laptops 'sparked by ISIS threat'

An aircraft cabin ban on large electronic devices was prompted by intelligence suggesting a terror threat to US-bound flights, say US media. The US and UK have announced new carry-on restrictions banning laptops on certain passenger flights. The so-called Islamic State group (IS) has been working on ways to smuggle explosives on to planes by hiding them in electronics, US sources tell ABC. (BBC)

Canada mulls joining U.S., Britain on electronics ban for flights

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canada is evaluating intelligence passed on by the United States to determine if it should require passengers travelling from some Middle East countries to pack all large electronic devices other than mobile cellphones in their checked baggage. U.S. Homeland Secretary John Kelly spoke by telephone Tuesday with Mr. Garneau to explain why the Trump administration has ruled that only cellphones and smartphones will be allowed in the passenger cabin of flights into the United States from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries. (Globe and Mail) (VICE) (CHCH)

Liberals looking at Canadian cost of Trump’s immigration orders

The Liberal government is examining whether the fallout from U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration will require more cash to be spent north of the border. But both immigration officials and the federal minister told a House of Commons committee that right now, there’s no new money. Departmental officials say Trump’s executive orders are too new for them to be able to estimate how much they could cost Canada and in what ways. (Macleans)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

What to know about the new airline electronics bans

The Trump administration warned Tuesday that U.S.-bound travellers from 10 airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa will be banned from carrying certain electronic devices on board, owing to fears terrorists could conceal bombs in larger devices. The restrictions will pertain to any electronics larger than a smartphone. Laptops, iPads, cameras, tablets, e-readers, portable DVD players and hand-held gaming consoles will no longer be permitted in the cabin and must instead be kept with checked luggage. (CBC)

Trump, tighter air travel rules behind surge of refugees at Canada-U.S. border, experts say

There were four times more asylum claimants arriving at land border crossings than at airports in the first two months of 2017, new Canadian data show. In January and February, a total of 525 air travellers — 400 in Ontario, 90 in Quebec, 35 in British Columbia and nine in Alberta — sought asylum upon arrival at airports, said the Canada Border Services Agency. (Toronto Star)

Trump's travel bans and cuts to science could create a Canadian brain gain

U.S. President Donald Trump's efforts to limit travel into his country while simultaneously cutting money from science-based programs provides an opportunity for Canada's science sector, says a leading Canadian researcher. "This is Canada's moment. I think it's a time we should be bold," said Alan Bernstein, president of CIFAR, a global research network that funds hundreds of scientists in 16 countries. (CBC)

Immigrants' rights groups denounce discrimination based on citizenship

It’s an obscure law that dates back to the time of Prohibition, when fears of communist (or American) invasion often led to protectionist or nativist policies. But the 1924 Professional Syndicates Act, which states that employees of unions and professional associations must be Canadian citizens, is still very much in force, and, it turns out, a perfectly legal way to discriminate against non-citizens in a whole range of positions. (Montreal Gazette)

Ahead of M-103 debate, duelling mobs clash on Parliament Hill over Islamophobia

More than two dozen police officers had to separate duelling mobs on Parliament Hill Tuesday afternoon after the two groups spent their lunch hour hurling loud and often profane epithets at each other in support of or in opposition to an anti-Islamophobia motion debated in the House of Commons Tuesday evening. A handful of men in each group nearly came to blows but for the clutch of RCMP officers standing between them. (National Post)

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid addresses critics of anti-Islamophobia motion

The Liberal MP whose private member’s motion condemning Islamophobia has divided the House of Commons used her final submission on Tuesday to address what she called “outrageous” arguments being made about her proposal. During the final debate in the Commons, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid said her motion, M-103, does not give one religion or community special privileges, or restrict free speech. (Globe and Mail)

Tories accuse Liberals of ‘ramming through whatever the f— they want’ to make changes to House procedure

pposition parties slammed the Liberal government on Tuesday for trying to “ram through” major changes to how the House of Commons does its business. With little notice, the Liberals moved Tuesday to have the Procedure and House Affairs committee study major changes to standing orders put forward by Liberal House leader Bardish Chagger, giving a tight June deadline and offering no indication that they wouldn’t use a majority to impose changes to House rules without opposition consent. (National Post)

Airport privatization could hike costs and threaten security, Ambrose says

A "botched" job of selling off Canada's airports would be costly for travellers and could even threaten national security, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose says. The government is studying the potential privatization of some of Canadian airports, but has not yet made any decision. (CBC)

Bernier’s national membership chair MP Nuttall was accused of membership fraud in 2010

In 2010, Mr. Nuttall, then a municipal councillor, ran unsuccessfully in the nomination contest for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in Barrie. He was under fire for allegedly fraudulently signing up party members. The local PC nomination committee asked the party to disqualify Mr. Nuttall. Mr. Nuttall denied the allegations and the party, after looking into the concerns, allowed his candidacy to continue. (Hill Times)

North Korea missile launch fails

A North Korean missile launch has failed, South Korean defence officials say, but it is unclear how many were fired or what exactly was being tested. The US military said it detected a missile which appeared to explode within seconds of being launched. North Korea is banned from any missile or nuclear tests by the United Nations. (BBC)

Exclusive: North Korea has no fear of U.S. sanctions move, will pursue nuclear arms - envoy

North Korea has nothing to fear from any U.S. move to broaden sanctions aimed at cutting it off from the global financial system and will pursue "acceleration" of its nuclear and missile programs, a North Korean envoy told Reuters on Tuesday. This includes developing a "pre-emptive first strike capability" and an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), said Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva. (Reuters)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Lorne Gunter: Politicians still brush aside concerns about extremists

If a man gets drunk at a bar in the middle of the night, tokes a little bud, snorts a bit of blow, then goes home and slaps his wife around, do we not still think of him as a wife beater even though he was drunk and high? If a meth head holds up a pedestrian on the street to get a little cash to finance his next hit, do we not still think of him as a mugger? So how come much of the world’s press, and many politicians, are dismissing claims that Ziyed Ben Belgacem was a Muslim extremist simply because he had been drinking and indulging in recreational drugs before he shot a Parisian gendarme and then tried to take a French soldier prisoner at Orly airport? (Postmedia)

Faith Goldy: Canada’s Fake Refugee Crisis

Hundreds of illegals are crossing our border with the US, even though there is no persecution to flee or danger there. As Canadian towns like Emerson, Manitoba beg Ottawa for more resources, the CBC is engaged in a campaign to run cover for the Trudeau administration, which seems totally out of touch. (Rebel)

Anthony Furey: Anti-sharia petition emerges alongside M-103 debate

An anti-sharia law petition is gaining votes on the Canadian government’s e-petition website at the same time as an anti-Islamophobia motion faces a vote in the House of Commons. Liberal MP Iqra Khalid had the final say Tuesday evening as her controversial motion faced its second hour of debate. “M103 is not an attempt to create sharia law,” Khalid said as she brought up what she labeled “outrageous claims” made by critics of the motion. (Toronto Sun)

Vicky Mochama: Private sponsorship is getting refugees jobs, but the system needs support

The decades-old private sponsorship program is unique in both form and tradition. But without sufficient money and resources, the agency that manages it is struggling with a backlog of potential sponsors, and leaving Canada in danger of breaking its global promise. As the federal budget comes down in Ottawa, this should be a top priority. (Metro)

Surjit Singh Flora: Refugees Crossing Over From The U.S. Are Breaking The Law

For many Sikhs in Canada today, the Komagata Maru incident still looms large in our consciousness. For anyone not familiar with this event in our nation's history, in May 1914 the Komagata Maru sailed from Hong Kong bound for Vancouver, carrying 376 passengers. Most of the passengers were from the Punjab, India. All were British subjects. (Huffington Post)

Tarek Fatah: My response to Pakistan's High Commission

“Pakistan is a multi-cultural, progressive and democratic country in which there is no place for religious tyranny.” Believe it or not, someone out there believes we Canadians will buy this piffle. This fairy-tale description of Pakistan came in a "Letter to the Editor" on these pages on March 15 from the “Minister Press” at the Pakistani High Commission in Canada, Nadeem Haider Kiani. (Postmedia)

Terry Glavin: Canada finally takes a stand against Iran

It’s the time of Nowrooz, the ancient Persian celebration of the rebirth of the world. New Year’s Day, the first day of spring, the vernal equinox: the moment the sun crosses that imaginary line in the sky above the equator, heading northward, occurred in Tehran at 1:58 p.m. on Monday.

It is the one great joy that the Khomeinist ayatollahs of the Islamic Republic of Iran have failed to eradicate from the life of the people, despite the strenuous efforts the regime exerted after seizing power in 1979. Iranian families still dress in their finest, everyone still gathers round the dining table for special holiday meals, and they still exchange gifts, and on it goes until the Sizdah Bedar holiday on the 13th day, April 2, when the people flock to parks or to the mountains for picnics. (Macleans)

Chris Hall: Bill Morneau's budget caught between Trump and a hard place

It's safe to say that the budget Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveils today won't be the one he originally intended as a second instalment of the Liberals' plan to help the middle class — and all those seeking to join it. Part of the reason is that his first budget — with the billions dedicated to an enhanced child benefit and new infrastructure spending, combined with slower than expected economic growth — leaves Morneau little financial room for bold new initiatives. (CBC)

Paul Wells: It’s a mystery how the Liberals are encouraging innovation and helping the middle class

Wednesday’s budget will be about the middle class and innovation. Maybe it’ll even be helpful! That would be nice. Unfortunately, the Trudeau government’s handling of both files so far has left them in something close to a shambles. I wrote here, somewhat quizzical, after Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos gave a presentation to reporters about “The State of the Middle Class.” In retrospect, I was probably too kind. (Toronto Star)

John Ivison: Liberals likely to resist the urge to let spending taps gush in Wednesday’s budget

The size of the deficit in the coming fiscal year will be “broadly similar” to the $27.8 billion shortfall revealed in the fall fiscal update, says a senior government official familiar with the plan. The “not dissimilar” fiscal projection to be revealed in Wednesday’s budget by Finance Minister Bill Morneau suggests that the Liberal government will resist the urge to let the spending taps gush, leaving some potential beneficiaries unhappy. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on National Defence met yesterday to get a briefing by the Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment (Public)

-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met yesterday to discuss (Partly public/in Camera):

  • Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act & Special Economic Measures Act
  • Yezidis, Christians and Other Religious and Ethnic Minorities in Syria and Iraq
  • Situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia 25 Years after the End of the Cold War