True North Initiative: News Scan 04 06 17

TOP STORIES

RCMP: Toronto man joined ISIS

A Toronto man has been arrested and charged for allegedly leaving Canada to join ISIS extremists in their twisted war against civilization. According to the RCMP, Pamir Hakimzadah, 27, travelled to Turkey in the fall of 2014 in a dash to join ISIS. But the wannabe jihadi was busted by Turkish officials and returned to Canada. Toronto cops are also holding Hakimzadah for an incident last June 27. He is charged with uttering threats, assault and assault causing bodily harm. (Toronto Sun) (National Post) (CTV)

Father speaks out after son charged for allegedly leaving Canada to join ISIS

The father of a Toronto man who was charged after allegedly leaving Canada to join the Islamic State, is denying the allegations made by police about his son. Pamir Hakimzadah, 27, was arrested by the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team Wednesday afternoon under Project Sachet, an “extensive national security criminal investigation,” officers said Wednesday. He was charged under the Criminal Code for participating in the activity of a terrorist group. (Global News)

Devices that track, spy on cellphones found at Montreal's Trudeau airport

If you were recently at Montreal's Trudeau International Airport, someone may have been spying on your cellphone. A Radio-Canada reporter detected the presence of an electronic surveillance device known as an IMSI catcher on Feb. 21, while waiting for a U.S.-bound flight. The revelation comes after a joint CBC/Radio-Canada investigation earlier this week found electronic surveillance IMSI catchers have been used in the area near Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (CBC)

RCMP reveals use of secretive cellphone surveillance technology for the first time

The RCMP for the first time is publicly confirming it uses cellphone surveillance devices in investigations across Canada — but at the same time says the potential of unauthorized snooping in Ottawa, as reported by CBC News, poses a threat to national security. "Absolutely," RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Adam, who is in charge of technical investigations services, said in an unprecedented technical briefing Wednesday with reporters from CBC News, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. (CBC)

Teens travelling alone among latest asylum seekers walking into Manitoba

The number of asylum seekers walking across the Canada-U.S. border into Manitoba is on the rise — including the number of minors making the trek alone. Since the beginning of January, nearly 360 people have made an irregular crossing — meaning one somewhere other than an official border crossing — into Manitoba, according to the refugee settlement agency Welcome Place. "The other thing we're starting to see, which is very much a concern, is a number of minors who are unaccompanied," Welcome Place executive director Rita Chahal told CBC News. (CBC)

RCMP accuse Vice-Admiral Norman of leaking cabinet secrets

The RCMP allege Vice-Admiral Mark Norman violated the Criminal Code by leaking government secrets, an accusation that arises from a 16-month probe into the release of information about cabinet deliberations to a Quebec-based shipbuilder that wanted Ottawa to stop delaying approval of a $667-million contract for an interim naval supply ship.A breach of trust conviction under Section 122 of the Criminal Code carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. (Globe and Mail)

Correspondence shows Norman angered by attempted political interference in shipbuilding contract

Correspondence obtained by CTV News shows Vice-Admiral Mark Norman had considered resigning over attempted political interference in a shipbuilding contract by Irving Shipyards, before he was ultimately removed from his duties. Norman was the vice chief of the defence staff when Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance temporarily removed him from his duties on Jan. 9. The military has never provided an explanation for Norman’s suspension. Sources say Irving wrote to multiple cabinet ministers in the newly minted Liberal government in November of 2015, trying to scuttle a multimillion dollar plan to rebuild a desperately needed supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy that had been awarded to competitor Davie Shipyards. (CTV)

Man linked to Calgary's jihadi cluster has been in Algerian jail for nearly a year

Abderrahmane Ghanem, a 30-year-old Canadian from Calgary has been held for nearly a year in the El-Harrach prison in Algeria. Ghanem, who also holds Algerian citizenship, is charged with being a member of a terrorist group outside Algeria. His trial is set to begin next month. If found guilty he likely faces up to 20 years in jail. His family and lawyers believe the charge has to do with Ghanem's past association with people who have been radicalized in Calgary and went to fight for extremist groups in the Middle East. (CBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

New Record Low Express Entry Minimum CRS Requirement: 431

For the fourth time this year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has set a new record low point requirement for Express Entry candidates to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence. In the latest draw, which took place on April 5, candidates with 431 or more Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points received an ITA. A total of 3,753 candidates received an ITA in this latest round of invitations. (CIC News)

Liberals promise to begin holding fundraisers in public, share details online

The Liberal Party is ending the secrecy surrounding its fundraisers that feature Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and cabinet ministers, promising to hold them only in public spaces and launching a new website that posts events in advance as well as a guest list after the fact. (Globe and Mail)

US Homeland Security head expressed little concern about border with Canada

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly offered more soothing words Wednesday for Canadians concerned about border security when he appeared before a Senate committee and was asked what concerns he had about security along the Canada-U.S. frontier. Kelly replied that he’s not as concerned as he is with the southern border with Mexico and would actually like to see the northern border “even thinner,” reiterating comments he made during a visit to Ottawa last month. (Global News)

Canada and Mexico pitching united front ahead of crucial NAFTA talks

It appears Canada and Mexico have averted a fight among amigos ahead of crucial talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The de-escalation happened last month when a team of top Mexican trade officials met privately with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in Toronto to push for solidarity after Canada signalled it might strike a separate trade deal with the United States and exclude Mexico -- fracturing the long-standing continental pact. (CTV)

Defence deal could open the door to weapons sales to Ukraine

The Trudeau government has signed a defence co-operation agreement with Ukraine, a seemingly mundane bit of statecraft that could have far-reaching implications for the eastern European country's bid to buy Canadian-made weapons. The bilateral deal, signed this week by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and his Ukrainian counterpart Stepan Poltorak, increases mutual co-operation in the areas of defence policy, education, defence research and development, as well as production. (CBC)

Muhammad left Somalia to escape terror. Now he's fled to Canada to avoid Donald Trump's deportation crackdown

Hands folded, then fingers pointing, explaining how he left his home in Somalia and travelled half way around the world. Explaining, with his face partly concealed by a scarf and hat belonging to a friend, how he slipped across the border and placed both feet on Canadian soil. (Independent.co.uk)

Homeland Security chief backtracks on splitting families

Parents and children caught crossing the Mexican border into the United States illegally generally can remain together, the Homeland Security chief said Wednesday, in a partial reversal of previous comments. Secretary John Kelly also made clear that just about any immigrant in the United State illegally is a priority for immigration enforcement. (NBC)

For Trump, Mar-a-Lago is place to break the ice with China's Xi

U.S. President Donald Trump has told visitors that his Mar-a-Lago retreat is set up perfectly for foreign visits, but the Chinese side was initially hesitant when word came that Trump would like to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping there, according to administration officials. Even after seeing images of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's back-slapping sessions with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in February, Chinese officials thought the oceanfront, Spanish-style club in Palm Beach, Florida, lacked the symbolic significance of the White House itself. (Yahoo)

Trump Removes Stephen Bannon From National Security Council Post

For the first 10 weeks of President Trump’s administration, no adviser loomed larger in the public imagination than Stephen K. Bannon, the raw and rumpled former chairman of Breitbart News who considers himself a “virulently anti-establishment” revolutionary out to destroy the “administrative state.” But behind the scenes, White House officials said, the ideologist who enjoyed the president’s confidence became increasingly embattled as other advisers, including Mr. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, complained about setbacks on health care and immigration. Lately, Mr. Bannon has been conspicuously absent from some meetings. And now he has lost his seat at the national security table. (NY Times)

Can hack but not shoot? FBI may ease entry for cyber agents

Aspiring federal agents who can hack a computer with ease but can't shoot their way out of a paper bag could soon find the FBI to be more welcoming. In a series of recent speeches, FBI Director James Comey has hinted the bureau may adjust its hiring requirements to attract top-notch cyber recruits, the better to compete with private sector companies who can lure the sharpest technical minds with huge salary offers. (Charlotte Observer)

  

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Trudeau failed first foreign policy test

So Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan misled Canadians about the details of ending our combat mission against ISIS last year. New information released by the Department of Global Affairs, in response to an Access to Information request by the Conservatives, revealed that our allies in Iraq were disappointed with Trudeau’s decision to withdraw our CF-18 fighter jets and pleaded with Sajjan to reconsider. (Toronto Sun)

John Ivison: Don’t blame foreign workers when the problem is locals who prefer EI over working

This disconnect between the temporary foreign workers and employment insurance programs isn’t limited to fish plants. In reply to a written question from Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, the government revealed this week that between December 2015 and September 2016 (the last month for which statistics are available), 67,440 temporary foreign workers were granted access to Canada to work in areas where unemployed Canadians with relevant prior work experience lived close by. (National Post)

Colin Kenny: Give the RCMP the resources it needs

Last year, Public Safety Minister Goodale signed off on an annual bonus package for top RCMP brass totaling more than $1.7 million. The bonuses were doled out among 96 senior officers and included $295,514 for six Deputy Commissioners – a nine percent increase over their 2015 bonuses. The six deputies have difficult jobs and between them manage around 30,000 regular and civilian members. I don’t doubt that these bonuses were deserved but they must be considered in the context of the rank and file Mounties who have not had a raise in over three years. (National Newswatch)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       The Standing Committee on National Defence meet later today to study Canada and the Defence of North America (3:30pm EST) (In Camera)

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