True North Initiative: News Scan 03 28 17

TOP STORIES

Conservative leadership camps ratchet up plans to stop asylum seekers

The Conservative leadership race is heating up as the membership deadline looms, with Maxime Bernier now vowing to use the military to close the Canadian border to illegal asylum seekers. Immigration has long provided a key dividing line between various leadership candidates, but the debate went up a notch Monday as Kevin O’Leary promised to enact legislation to prevent some asylum seekers from obtaining a refugee hearing in Canada. (Globe and Mail)

Maxime Bernier says he'd deploy military to stop illegal border crossings

Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier says he would dedicate more resources to address the flow of migrants crossing the U.S.-Canada border illegally. And if that doesn't work, he'd consider temporary measures, including deploying the military to the border. "We're using the Canadian Forces when we have natural disasters in this country," Bernier said in an interview with CBC News. "Let's use them on a temporary basis in places where these people are crossing the border." (CBC)

Ontario-based relief group linked to Hamas heads to court to get off Canada’s terrorist list

A Muslim relief group allegedly linked to Hamas has launched a legal challenge in Federal Court in an attempt to be taken off the Canadian government’s list of “terrorist entities.” The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy Canada has asked to be removed from the terrorist list and also wants the entire listing process struck down as unconstitutional. (National Post)

Liberals reverse course on Chinese takeover of Montreal high-tech firm

The Trudeau government has approved a Chinese takeover of a Montreal high-tech firm, a deal that national-security agencies had warned Ottawa in 2015 would undermine a technological edge that Western militaries have over China. Hong Kong-based O-Net Communications announced on Monday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet had given it the green light to acquire ITF Technologies, a leader in fibre-laser technology. (Globe and Mail)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Health of Canadian democracy improving, but concerns remain, poll suggests

Amid widespread concern for the state of Western democracies and the rise of populist revolts, a new report says the health of Canadian democracy has improved over the last two years. But celebrations should be measured. Democracy 360, the second biennial report by Samara, a non-partisan civic organization based in Toronto, finds the country's political culture is deserving of a B-minus grade, a slight improvement from the C that Samara bestowed in 2015. (CBC)

Canadians’ satisfaction with MPs and political parties on the upswing: new report

Samara Canada’s latest democracy survey has found Canadians’ civic engagement and satisfaction with politicians are on the upswing. Data gathered by the nonprofit organization show Canadians were generally between five and 10 percentage points happier with political parties’ and MPs’ performance and engagement in fall 2016 than they were two years before that. While some “correction” might be happening in the last few months, which have been hard on the Trudeau Liberals, executive director Jane Hilderman says she believes the broader trend still holds. (National Post)

MP Michael Chong calls writer’s attempt to nurse his baby ‘odd’ but inconsequential

Conservative leadership candidate Michael Chong is calling a Globe and Mail column that outlined the writer’s attempt to nurse one of his children — without his knowledge or consent, and while she wasn’t lactating — “odd,” but inconsequential. The column, written by Leah McLaren, was posted to the Globe’s website March 22, but it has since been removed. The Globe and Mail and Leah McLaren did not respond to requests for comment. (Toronto Star)

Think tank urges Liberals to sell money-making assets to private sector

A new report is urging the Trudeau Liberals to make their new, experimental infrastructure bank a centre for helping cities and provinces sell off existing assets, rather than just helping to build new infrastructure. The C.D. Howe Institute says the Liberals, along with provinces, territories and cities, could raise between $67-$100 billion by selling off revenue-generating assets like airports that would be attractive to private sector investors. (CTV)

Number of medical marijuana users has quadrupled since Liberals won election

Data obtained by CTV News shows the number of Canadians registered to use medical marijuana has soared from 30,000 to nearly 130,000 since Justin Trudeau became prime minister, after campaigning on a promise to legalize the drug. In the month before the October 2015 election, 30,357 people had prescriptions to use the drug, according to figures from Health Canada. That number more than quadrupled to 129,876 by December 2016. (CTV)

NANOS: Federal Liberals 43, Conservatives 29, NDP 16, Greens 5: Nanos

The latest weekly Nanos federal ballot tracking has the Liberals at 42.5 per cent support, the Conservatives at 29.2 per cent, the NDP at 16.1 per cent, the Greens at 5.2 per cent and the BQ at 4.8 per cent. (NANOS)

U.S. may cut funding to sanctuary cities, attorney general says

Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened on Monday to cut off U.S. Justice Department grants to cities that fail to assist federal immigration authorities, moving the Trump administration closer to a potential clash with leaders of America's largest urban centres. Sessions' statements were aimed at a dozens of cities and other local governments, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, that have joined a growing "sanctuary" movement aimed at shielding illegal immigrants from stepped-up deportation efforts. (CBC) (Washington Times)

Jared Kushner to be questioned over alleged Trump-Russia ties

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and aide, Jared Kushner, will be questioned by a US committee investigating alleged ties between the Trump team and Russia. Mr Kushner has volunteered to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the White House said. It is examining Russia's alleged interference in last year's election. (BBC)

North Korea conducts another missile engine test, US officials say

Two US defense officials told CNN Monday that North Korea conducted another ballistic missile engine test Friday. The officials said the latest engine trial is the third such test in recent weeks using similar technology. One official said that the initial assessment indicates that the engine technology could possibly be used in an eventual intercontinental ballistic missile. (CNN)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Campbell Clark: Clickbait policies from Tory leadership hopefuls won’t stop asylum seekers

Maxime Bernier said he’d be willing to call the army to stop illegal border-crossers. Kevin O’Leary promised to override the section of the Constitution that guarantees the right to “life, liberty and security of the person.” Kellie Leitch ran ads promising to “Crack down on illegal immigration.” In the last few days Conservative candidates have been desperate to recruit members who can vote for them before the party’s deadline at 5 p.m. Tuesday. And the tool of choice was ill-considered, clickbait policies to stop border-crossers. (Globe and Mail)

Andrew Coyne: Renewed attempt to rewrite House rules confirms Liberals are not to be trusted

The 18 months of the Trudeau government have been an education in cynicism. Every time you think you have plumbed the depths, every time you believe you have pierced the many veils of their duplicity, you are delighted to discover still another con wrapped inside the last — usually delivered by some smiling minister tweeting variations on “Better is Always Possible” and “Diversity is Our Strength.” (National Post)

Tasha Kheiriddin: Legalizing weed was never about anything but votes — and money

The true purpose of marijuana legalization is twofold: to court the millennial vote and to reap the kind of tax windfall that has debt-heavy governments salivating. By CIBC’s estimate, legal pot could bring in $5 billion a year for federal and provincial governments. According to Deloitte, the total value of legal weed to Canada’s economy — growing, distribution, paraphernalia, tourism and business taxes — could reach $22.6 billion a year. Those are welcome numbers in a country where deficits are growing, young people can’t find jobs and the renegotiation of NAFTA looms like a black cloud on the horizon. (IPolitics)

Jock Finlayson and Ken Peacock: B.C. needs to do a better job of attracting high-skill immigrants

Immigrants are an important element of the economic fabric of the province. Without this inflow of people, B.C.’s population would barely be growing. More significantly, growth in the workforce would slow to a crawl, and employers in many industries would find it very difficult to recruit workers. Labour shortages and hiring challenges would be widespread, and many businesses not tied to servicing the domestic market would likely relocate to other jurisdictions with more plentiful labour. (Business Vancouver)

Matt Gurney: Relax, Ontario, especially the media: our kids are not gunning each other down every day

A new study came out Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It reported that over a five-year period (2008-2012), an average of 355 “youths” in Ontario were injured or killed in firearms-related incidents per year, or almost one per day. (Suicides apparently excluded.) It was full of interesting information and findings — a good piece of scholarship. But how it was reported in the media got it largely wrong, certainly in terms of tone. Because the survey, while certainly telling tragic tales, isn’t nearly as alarming as is being portrayed, and the best solution to the problem — and there is one — isn’t likely to find much public support. (Global News)

Jerry Agar: School board’s logic doesn’t add up

It’s a good thing educators in Manitoba who hate Toronto kept it to themselves when I was young. My high school graduation trip was to Toronto. It was terrific. I still remember so much of what we experienced. But that trip could have been cancelled if administrators in Manitoba had been as political as those at the Toronto District School Board appear to be. The TDSB is cancelling student trips to the U.S. because it says students might be turned back at the border. (Toronto Sun)

Sue-Ann Levy: TDSB ban on new trips to U.S. political correctness gone mad

Pardon me for saying so but I didn’t notice Canada listed as a hotbed of terrorist activity in President Donald Trump’s latest order banning residents of six countries from temporarily entering the United States for 90 days. I saw Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. But don’t tell that to the largely union-backed loony leftist trustees forever in search of a cause at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). (Toronto Sun)

  

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

 

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