True North Initiative: News Scan 03 23 17

TOP STORIES

Five dead, around 40 injured in UK parliament 'terrorist' attack

Five people were killed and about 40 injured in London on Wednesday after a car plowed into pedestrians and a suspected Islamist-inspired attacker stabbed a policeman close to Britain's parliament. The dead, in what police called a "marauding terrorist attack," included the assailant and the policeman he stabbed. The other three victims were among those hit by the car as it sped across Westminster Bridge before crashing into railings just outside parliament. Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack as "sick and depraved". (Reuters) (Huffington Post)

UK Parliament terror: 7 suspects arrested and other key developments so far

Wednesday's terrorist attack in the heart of London has broken the more than a decade-long lull Britain enjoyed when it came to high-profile terrorist attacks. The attack's relatively lower casualties in comparison to the past attacks in Paris and Brussels has done nothing to dent the sense of shock people have felt, once again, across the world. On Wednesday, a suspected terrorist mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and stabbed a police officer outside Britain's Parliament complex before being shot dead by Scotland Yard officers. According to reports, prior to being shot by police, the attacker had tried to gain entry into the British Parliament via the main entrance. (Business Standard)

London attack: British-born attacker 'known to MI5'

The Westminster attacker was British-born and known to the police and intelligence services, the prime minister has revealed. In a statement to the Commons, Theresa May said he had been investigated some years ago over violent extremism but had been a "peripheral figure". "He was not part of the current intelligence picture," she said. (BBC)

Canada’s threat level unchanged after assumed terror attack in London

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Wednesday’s apparent terrorist incident outside the British Parliament is a “cowardly attack” on democracy around the world. And he says Canada stands ready to help Britain in any way it can after the attack, which left at least four dead in London. London police say the dead include the attacker and a police officer, and some 20 more have been wounded in the incident, which occurred on the grounds of the Parliament Buildings and the nearby Westminster Bridge. (Global News)

Budget 2017: Hello Uber tax, goodbye transit credit

Consumer tax changes in Wednesday's federal budget will add to the cost of Uber rides while ending a public-transit credit. Those are just two of several Liberal government moves that will hit pocketbooks directly, though modestly. The measures include slight increases — pennies, in fact — in tobacco and alcohol taxes. (CBC)

Trudeau government hiking taxes on smokes, booze in federal budget

Canadians who drink, smoke and rely on public transit will be paying more thanks to changes in the federal budget. Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Ottawa is raising taxes on tobacco and alcohol. The Liberals are also eliminating the tax credit for commuters who buy a transit pass, a change that takes effect July 1. And the government is making changes to ensure that ride-sharing services like Uber are charging GST and HST, just like regular taxis. (News Hub Nation)

Canada's `Lightweight' Budget Is Mostly Wait and See on Trump

He wasn’t mentioned once, but U.S. President Donald Trump was all over Canada’s minimalist budget. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit the brakes on new spending and major tax changes in a wait-and-see budget that marked a major shift for his activist administration, which last year unveiled an ambitious deficit-spending plan to stoke growth. It’s a pause for Trudeau that’s likely being driven, in part, by uncertainty over the impact Trump’s administration -- through trade measures, a border levy or cuts to U.S. taxes and regulations -- will have on Canada’s economy. (Bloomberg)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Liberals pour billions in to child care in political bid to win over families

The federal government plans to spend $7 billion over the next decade to help ease the burden of child care costs, part of a slew of new long-term spending targeting families. The details outlined in Wednesday's federal budget estimated that child care spending could create 40,000 new, subsidized daycare spaces countrywide over the next three years, representing a bump of less than 10 per cent in the overall number of spaces, although it's unclear how the Liberals came to that figure. (Calgary Herald)

Liberals' second budget leaves big questions on vets' pensions, defence spending

The Liberals checked off many of their remaining promises to veterans in Wednesday's federal budget, but left one big priority marked incomplete: giving injured ex-soldiers pensions for life. And anyone who was hoping to see more money committed to the Canadian military was left disappointed as the government did precisely the opposite, delaying billions of dollars in planned spending for new equipment. (CTV)

Refugee board's plea for assistance with growing backlog ignored

Despite a worsening backlog and surging number of land-border asylum claims via the U.S., the beleaguered Immigration and Refugee Board will not be getting any relief from the Liberal government. Although the 2017 budget provides $62.9 million over five years — and $11.5 million per year thereafter — for legal aid services for asylum claimants, it ignored a recent plea from IRB chair Mario Dion for additional money to deal with its rising backlog of refugee claims, which is expected to hit 30,000 cases this year. (Toronto Star)

Kellie Leitch believes all immigrants should be screened first with face-to-face meeting

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch believes immigration is a serious issue in Canada. That’s why she’s still promoting her anti-Canadian values screening program, a part of her campaign which has drawn lots of media attention these past few months. Leitch, one of 14 people running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, dropped by The Guardian office to talk politics on Wednesday. (Guardian PEI)

Study shows Canadian immigration system’s shift toward migrant workers

One out of five foreign workers becomes permanent residents, twice the rate from two decades ago, says a groundbreaking study that examines an immigration system increasingly geared toward temporary migrants. Only nine per cent of temporary foreign workers who came in the mid-1990s successfully obtained permanent resident status, while some 21 per cent of them did by the end of 2014, according to the new Statistics Canada report. (Toronto Star)

US immigrants make sub-zero trek for slim chance at asylum in Canada

His wet clothes frozen stiff and feet sinking into the deep snow, Mamadou allowed himself a shred of hope when he glimpsed a faint light in the distance. Many hours earlier he had set out for the border just as the sun was setting, trudging through thick woods near Plattsburgh, New York, towards Canada. Temperatures plunged to -15 degrees below zero and a bitter wind whipped snow-laden tree branches into his face. Several times, he was forced to wade through rivers or lakes. (The Guardian)

Vice reporter ordered to hand over correspondence says he'll 'take this as far as it needs to go'

For over a year, Vice journalist Ben Makuch has been fighting a police order to hand over his correspondence with Farah Mohamed Shirdon — a man who left Calgary to allegedly fight with ISIS. Today, in an Ontario appeals court ruling, Makuch lost that battle. The materials in question relate to three stories Makuch wrote in 2014 about Shirdon, who has been charged in absentia of various terrorism-related offences. The articles were largely based on conversations Makuch had with Shirdon via an online instant messaging app called Kik Messenger. (CBC)

A dairy-for-lumber deal? Think-tank paper proposes Canada-U.S. swap for NAFTA

The most common uses of Canadian dairy normally include milk, cream, yogurt, butter and cheese. Yet a new report suggests an altogether different purpose for the calcium-packed, bovine treat. The idea — use it as a bargaining chip. A free-market think-tank suggests offering American negotiators in upcoming NAFTA talks more open trade in dairy, in exchange for more predictable trade in softwood lumber to secure long-term peace in that perennially problematic file. (Montreal Gazette)

Who is the London terrorist? Inside story of how SAS, MI5 and spy agencies across the world track down his identity

Moments after the horror attack the clandestine world of counter-terrorism was hurled into a high-tempo behind-the-scenes hunt for the killer’s identity and connections. Every agency from British special forces, MI6, our domestic intelligence spooks at MI5 and all of the spy agencies in America and across Europe are involved in the hunt. A British Special Forces team attached to the Police Counter Terrorist Command spearheaded the search of the House of Commons for any other killers and oversaw the Prime Minister’s evacuation. (Mirror.co.uk)

ISIS supporters cheer Westminster attack as 'revenge' for British air strikes on Syria

ISIS supporters have cheered the attack on Westminster, suggesting it was “revenge” for the UK’s airstrikes on the terror group in Syria and Iraq. Followers on pro-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant channels on the social media service Telegram posted messages applauding the knife-wielding suspect and called the attack “blessed”. (Telegraph.co.uk)

Why is Spain in the middle of a spat between China and Taiwan?

Spain could soon become the first European Union country to extradite Taiwanese criminal suspects to China, instead of their home island. In December, a joint Spanish-Chinese operation busted what police said was a massive international phone scamming syndicate. Although most of the 269 suspects arrested were Taiwanese nationals, Beijing asked for the entire group to be sent to China. Last month, the Spanish government approved the request. (BBC)

Over a MILLION Americans at risk of being NUKED by North Korea

The US state of Hawaii is reportedly the most likely target for Kim Jong-un’s weapons as the prospect of an all-out conflict between the two countries grows. The hermit state’s latest ballistic missile test suggests it is gearing up to attack the United States, says think tank the National Interest. “The test serves as a sobering reminder that recent US missile-defense policies and spending have not done enough to deter our adversaries from pursuing advanced weapons,” it said. (Dailystar.co.uk)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Not in my name, Prime Minister

The federal budget was released Wednesday, and with it, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took his self-proclaimed “feminism” to the next level. Trudeau and company proudly told us they produced the “first ever gender statement” alongside this year’s budget, which they told the Globe and Mail was Canada’s first “gender-based federal budget”. What does a “gender-based” budget actually mean? Your guess is as good as mine. (Toronto Sun)

Andrew Coyne on federal budget 2017: No money, no ideas, but a wealth of bafflegab and buzzwords from the Liberals

The good news is they’ve run out of money. The nonsense in this nonsense-filled budget might have cost us all a lot more if the Liberals had more faith in the fundamental piece of nonsense underpinning the rest: that deficits stimulate growth. But as the economy has once again failed to play its part in the old fiscal conjuring trick — can it be just a year ago that the Liberals were claiming the multiplier on government spending could reach as high as “between three and four”? — the Grits now find themselves having to finance their ambitions by reallocating existing spending, rather than simply tacking more on top. Give thanks for small favours. (National Post)

Paul Wells: Budget is a list of decisions to be made later

This is the 22nd or 23rd federal budget I’ve covered. And I’ve never seen the like of the one Bill Morneau introduced on Wednesday. Not even in the last days of the Harper Conservatives did a budget provide for so little new spending — $1.3 billion in the current budget year, total, in all fields of government. That’s a little less than half of one per cent of all federal program spending for this year. (Toronto Star)

John Ivison: The Liberals may have slowed their spending, but their spin is relentless

The 2017 budget has the virtue of being as thin as a conscientious supermodel – 278 pages of flowery verbiage dressed up in the thin veneer of marketing speak. The whole thing will be forgotten by the weekend. Of course, if you happen to believe that the $25.4 billion deficit projected in last fall’s fiscal update was profligate enough, you will welcome the fact that this effort is slight enough that, were it a person, it would be in danger of going up with the blinds. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on National Defence meet later today to study Force Protection and continue committee business (In Camera) (3:30PM EST)

-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development meet later today to continue the study on the Situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia 25 Years after the End of the Cold War (8:45AM EST) (Public)