True North Initiative: News Scan 04 03 17

TOP STORIES

Canada deports hundreds to China each year with no treatment guarantee

The Canadian government is deporting hundreds of people to China each year without receiving any assurances that they will not be tortured or otherwise mistreated, statistics provided to The Globe and Mail reveal. Canada and China do not have a formal extradition treaty, and the Trudeau government has signalled that it may not complete such a deal out of concern about abuses in the Chinese justice system. (Globe and Mail)

Trudeau Ramps Up Courtship of Xi Amid China Free-Trade Talk

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doubling down on a push to deepen ties with China, with Canada’s new envoy signaling he can move ahead on a free-trade deal without quickly advancing extradition treaty talks. Former immigration minister John McCallum arrived in mid-March to take his post as Trudeau’s ambassador, and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping within a day of arrival. His message was clear: Trudeau wants even deeper ties than he and Xi had previously committed to. (Bloomberg)

How the Safe Third Country Agreement is changing lives on both sides of the border

It's a leap of faith a growing number of asylum seekers are making to get around the Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires refugees make a claim in the first country they land in. People who have already made a claim in the U.S. can't then shop their claim to Canada, and vice versa. But that rule, part of a Canada-U.S. border pact created after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, is limited to official land border crossings and airports. (CBC)

Illegal border crossings at forefront of Tory leadership debate

Conservative leadership candidates are taking a hard line on asylum seekers crossing illegally into Canada from the United States, with Maxime Bernier saying a “loophole” should be fixed to send them back to the U.S., and Kellie Leitch arguing mayors who help them shouldn’t receive federal money. Several candidates at a Toronto debate on Sunday said the safe-third-country agreement between Canada and the United States, which doesn’t allow asylum seekers to make refugee claims at official border crossings, should be changed or suspended in order to prevent people from entering Canada on foot as has been the case in parts of Manitoba and Quebec. (Globe and Mail)

Ottawa approves $12M extra funding due to ‘pressures’ of Mexican visa lift

The lifting of a visa requirement for visitors from Mexico last winter has already led the federal government to dedicate nearly $12 million in additional funds “to address irregular migration pressures.” The money was listed in Supplementary Estimates for fiscal year 2016-17, approved by Parliament on March 21. Supplementary estimates are tabled in Parliament up to three times per year, providing MPs and the public with information about extra funding departments may be looking for in order to fulfil their mandates. (Global)

New terrorist laptop bombs may evade airport security, intel sources say

US intelligence and law enforcement agencies believe that ISIS and other terrorist organizations have developed innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices that FBI testing shows can evade some commonly used airport security screening methods, CNN has learned. Heightening the concern is US intelligence suggesting that terrorists have obtained sophisticated airport security equipment to test how to effectively conceal explosives in laptops and other electronic devices. (CNN)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Asylum seeker's future in limbo after near-fatal border crossing in Quebec

It has been two weeks since Mamadou left the refugee detention centre, three weeks since he left the hospital, and a month since he was found collapsed in the snow, too frozen to move. His feet, damaged by frostbite, are slowly healing, though his toes are still blue in some places and peeling in others, and they still hurt too much to wear shoes. And so, in sandals and sports socks, Mamadou makes the two-block walk from the YMCA residence where he lives to a bustling shopping centre at the west end of downtown Montreal. He comes here often, sometimes even three times a day. (CBC)

Police chief Mark Saunders talks Pride and illegal immigrants

After 34 years with the Toronto Police Service, the last two as chief, Mark Saunders can say one thing with certainty. Unlike his last two predecessors, the 55-year-old father of four has no intention of going into politics. He almost bristled when I asked him that question during a sit-down interview last week, along with references to his low profile since become the first black chief of the TPS in April 2015. (Toronto Sun)

B.C. tech sector urged to use free trade deals to attract foreign talent

B.C.’s technology sector — often overwhelmed by the competition for limited skilled labour in Metro Vancouver — is increasingly looking beyond Canada’s borders. Immigration industry officials say that an unlikely way to get foreign workers — through labour-mobility clauses in free-trade deals, including the CETA agreement between Canada and the EU — may provide a key market from which Lower Mainland IT firms can tap talent. (Vancouver Sun)

Federal, Atlantic governments pleased with response to immigration pilot project

The federal and Atlantic provincial governments seem pleased with the uptake thus far in the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project. The project, the first of its kind in Canada, looks to process up to 2,000 applications for skilled immigrants this year for the four Atlantic provinces. In New Brunswick, for example, lots of people are looking for work, but some employers say that’s only part of the problem. (Global News)

Liberals stick to their guns as U.S. again calls for NATO allies to spend more

The Trudeau government has sent its strongest signals yet that Canada does not plan to bow to U.S. pressure to dramatically increase what it spends on defence. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned at his first NATO meeting in Brussels on Friday that the Trump administration wants allies to draw up plans for boosting defence spending to two per cent of GDP by 2024. (Chronicle Herald)

Justin Trudeau would win another federal election tomorrow

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s approval rating has dropped somewhat over the past year and a half, but it remains the envy of most world leaders, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News. The poll found that over half of Canadians (56 per cent) continue to approve of the Liberal government, down from 61 per cent since the New Year. Disapproval of Trudeau’s performance climbed five points up to 44 per cent. (Global)

Ombudsman accuses National Defence of 'insidious' attacks, demands independence

Canada’s military ombudsman has dropped the gloves in what appears to have become a tense battle with National Defence, accusing officials of “insidious” attacks whenever his office releases a report critical of the department. Gary Walbourne said those attacks have affected his ability to hold the Defence Department to account, which by extension is having a negative impact on the military personnel he is working to help. (Ottawa Citizen)

Inside the mysterious removal of the Canadian military’s second-in-command

On the morning of Monday, Jan. 9, four unmarked police cars arrived at Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s modest home in the Ottawa suburb of Orléans. Norman, the second-highest-ranking officer in the Canadian military, was standing in the driveway, about to take his wife to work. The plainclothes RCMP officers asked Norman to go back into the house, and for the next five to six hours they interrogated the vice-admiral, seizing his computers and cellphones. (National Post)

Canadian troops operating in east Mosul as mission extended to June

Canadian special forces have taken a more active role in the battle for Mosul, where weeks of bloody fighting have failed to dislodge the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. National Defence revealed the shift on Friday as the Liberal government announced it was extending the current mission in Iraq until the end of June. The hope is that the battle for Mosul will be over by then, at which point the government will have a better handle on the long-term needs in Iraq and change Canada's contribution as required. (CTV)

Trump says U.S. ready to act alone if China won't help with North Korea

President Donald Trump said Sunday that the United States is prepared to act alone if China does not take a tougher stand against North Korea’s nuclear program. Mr. Trump’s comments -- in an interview with the Financial Times -- come just days before he is set to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate in South Florida. The two are expected to discuss a number of issues, including North Korea, trade and territorial disputes in the South China Sea during their meetings on Thursday and Friday. (CBS)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Trudeau soft pedals terrorism, again

Is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau up for the serious task of combatting terrorism in Canada? Judging by his response to this week’s stunning revelation of ISIS supporters working at the Montreal airport, Canadians could be forgiven for believing Trudeau is not.  When asked by a reporter if individuals expressing extremist views should be allowed to continue working at our country’s airports, Trudeau’s response was remarkable for its lack of clarity and courage. (Toronto Sun)

Andrew MacDougall: Trudeau show wearing thin, but Canadians not ready to change channel

How does Justin Trudeau get away with it? I try not to play the bitter former partisan, I really do, but the recent Liberal budget and subsequent adventures in Parliamentary reform have produced some bile. Before we begin, let’s take a jaunt down memory lane. (Ottawa Citizen)

Graeme Gordon: Trudeau should probably stop telling desperate refugees that everyone is welcome in Canada

Are you one of the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. afraid of being deported? Come to Canada! An asylum-seeker worried your refugee claim will be denied in America? Welcome to Canada! Paid a paltry wage in Mexico? Head on up to Canada! Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began broadcasting this heart-warming message in late January as a not-so-subtle subtweet about President Donald Trump's travel ban. (CBC)

Chantal Hebert: Trudeau, Liberals tone-deaf to House of Commons

Justin Trudeau does not much like the House of Commons and the feeling is mutual. This is not a statement on the people who sit alongside or across from the prime minister, or the latter’s feelings toward them. A majority of MPs owe their seats to Trudeau’s campaign skills and they are grateful to him for that. Most opposition members do not wake up at night to hate the current prime minister. On both sides of the Commons, some save their most negative feelings for colleagues of their own party. (Toronto Star)

Terezia Farkas: Sanctuary Cities Divide Inclusive Canada Into 'Us' And 'Them'

When a person is escaping war or simply wants to immigrate to Canada, the driving force is the idea that Canada is an inclusive, safe country of multiculturalism. There's no thought that a single city in Canada is somehow a sanctuary while the rest of Canada isn't. Declaring a city a "sanctuary city" is a slap in the face of Canadians because a sanctuary city tells the world that somehow the rest of Canada is not a safe place for refugees and immigrants. That Canada is full of anger and hatred towards migrants. (Huffington Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration meet later today to meet with Immigration Consultants and for committee business (3:30pm EST) (Public)

-       The Standing Committee on National Defence meet tomorrow for committee business

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development meet tomorrow for committee business