True North Initiative: News Scan 04 12 17

TOP STORIES

Alleged Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov denied bail

Accused Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov was denied bail Tuesday and will remain in custody until the end of the extradition process that could see him sent to the U.S. to stand trial on charges related to computer hacking. Justice Alan Whitten made the decision in Hamilton court Tuesday afternoon. He said the 22-year-old had not met the onus to be granted bail. "Sir, you will be detained," Whitten said to Baratov. (CBC)

Girls' education activist Malala Yousafzai to address Parliament today

Malala Yousafzai will become Canada's sixth honorary citizen today, a rare gesture of respect for her bravery in overcoming a brutal Taliban attack to become a champion for girls' education around the world. The 19-year-old Pakistan-born Nobel Peace Prize recipient will attend a formal ceremony in Ottawa before she delivers a 15-minute address in the House of Commons. (CBC)

Canada's foreign aid bucks global trend, drops under Trudeau: OECD report

While international development aid reached a new global peak of $142.6 billion US in 2016, Canada's contribution to the pie has actually shrunk under the Trudeau government, according to a new report. Canada's official development assistance, which stood at $3.9 billion US in 2016, was down by 4.4 per cent compared to the previous year and accounted for about 0.26 per cent of the country's gross national income (GNI), according to official data collected in a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (CBC)

Garneau imposes new air security measures, but won't say what or why

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the federal Liberal government has imposed new airline security measures on certain Canada-bound flights — but he's providing precious few other details. Garneau made the announcement today after the government's weekly cabinet meeting. He says the measures will ensure greater security on flights coming to Canada "from certain countries," but is saying little else. Garneau says the measures will be in place until further notice. (CBC)

Philippines says key figure linked to beheadings of Canadians is dead

Philippine troops battling militants on a central resort island killed a young Abu Sayyaf commander who was involved in the beheadings of two Canadians and a German and who had sailed far from the extremists' southern jungle hideouts to capture more hostages, the military chief said Wednesday. Military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said that troops recovered and identified the remains of Moammar Askali at the scene of the battle in a coastal village on Bohol island. Five other Abu Sayyaf gunmen, three soldiers and a policeman also were killed in Tuesday's clashes. (CBC)

Liberal bill would automatically increase user fees for federal services by rate of inflation

The Liberal government has introduced a bill that would significantly increase the fees that Canadians pay for a variety of federal services, such as campsites, fishing licences and passports. In an omnibus budget bill brought forward Tuesday, the government proposes a new Service Fees Act that would automatically hike hundreds of fees by the level of inflation each year. The move would also make it much easier for departments to apply for fee increases to better match the cost of providing services to individual Canadians and businesses. The proposed law is slated to come into effect April 1 next year. (CBC)

Borussia Dortmund attack: Police investigate Islamist link

German police are investigating a possible Islamic extremist link to the bombing of the Borussia Dortmund football team's bus, German media say. A letter found near the scene cites the Berlin Christmas market attack and military operations in Syria. It is not yet clear if the letter is genuine. Meanwhile, German federal prosecutors, who normally lead investigations related to terrrorism, are taking over the probe. (BBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Canada’s immigration detainees being locked up based on dodgy risk assessments, Star finds

Canada’s border police have left vital records blank and said they lack the expertise to assess the risks posed by immigration detainees, documents filed in federal court reveal. “I am not a medical or mental health professional,” one Canada Border Services Agency officer wrote on a risk assessment form in 2015. “I have not received any training on the completion of the form. This assessment is cursory in nature and should not be construed as an accurate representation of the subject’s risk or mental health status.” (Toronto Star)

U.S. pardon services company 'preyed' on Canadians, alleges California D.A.

A California District Attorney's office has levied $4.7 million in fines against a company accused of "preying" on Canadians desperate to have their criminal records cleaned up to get into the U.S. Documents filed by the County D.A. in Superior Court in California last week accuse the company of "defrauding" people by promising to get their past records sealed, taking their payments, then stalling and never delivering promised services. (CBC)

Canadian housing price trend ‘very similar’ to U.S. just before the crash: National Bank

Over half of urban markets tracked by National Bank of Canada are seeing home prices increase by 10 per cent or more a year. “This record proportion is very similar to that observed in the United States in 2005 at the peak of the market,” chief economist Stefane Marion wrote in a recent research note. (Global News)

Liberals' 1st budget didn't resonate with public, internal focus group suggested

The Trudeau government got little traction with the Canadian public from the big spending economic stimulus measures in its 2016 budget, according to newly released federal focus group data. Although the focus group participants may not have known a lot about the key measures in that first Liberal budget, their opinions closely aligned with some of the big ticket items outlined a couple of months later in the fall fiscal update and in the Liberals' second budget tabled last month. (CBC)

Opposition MPs cry foul over Liberals’ tabling of 300-page bill

The federal government tabled a wide-ranging budget bill Tuesday that includes legal changes to the powers of the Parliamentary Budget Officer as well as a new law that creates the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The opposition says the legislation, at more than 300 pages, amounts to an omnibus bill at the very same time that the governing Liberals are separately proposing changes to the parliamentary rules that would make omnibus bills illegal. (Globe and Mail)

Ambrose meets Trump NAFTA point man; calls meeting reassuring

Canada's Opposition leader says she's feeling a bit reassured after meeting U.S. President Donald Trump's point man on trade and wants to take that message home to calm jitters in the business community. Rona Ambrose met Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross during a visit to Washington on Monday. She said Ross acknowledges not only the value of the Canada-U.S. business relationship, but also the need to provide stability and business confidence. (CTV)

Schools still imposing travel bans to parts of Europe

Calgary public school students are still facing restrictions around international travel while kids in the Catholic system are having all potential trips assessed on a case-by-case basis. Since the wider-ranging travel bans in late 2015 — on the heels of the Paris attacks which saw 130 people killed at the hands of terrorists — schools across Calgary have faced the thorny issue of whether to allow students the experience of international travel to enhance their studies or whether to keep them in Canada for fear of risking their safety. (Calgary Sun)

Washington Post dedicates front page to anti-Trump Americans who can flee to Cape Breton Island

A weekend feature in The Washington Post about American interest in immigrating to Cape Breton Island highlights how Canada could benefit from growing nervousness about the Trump presidency. Cape Breton DJ Rob Calabrese has received more than 5,000 emails since he put up a $28-website encouraging Americans to escape Trump by moving to Cape Breton Island, N.S. The Washington Post article, published last Saturday, features interviews with Calabrese, locals in Cape Breton, and Americans who have thought about moving. Many of the more recent inquiries he received were from worried immigrants, Calabrese told Outside — an online publication that also recently published a piece about Cape Breton Island. (Yahoo)

Indian navy may be in market for Canada’s used Sea Kings helicopters

The Indian navy is considering purchasing several Sea King helicopters from Canada, a New Delhi-based newspaper is reporting. A source told the Financial Express officials plan to discuss the purchase during an official visit by federal defence minister Harjit Sajjan later this month. “At this time Canada is in the process of decommissioning four of its Sea King CH-124 helicopters. These four have very little hours of flying logged in, and four that were decommissioned last December were recently upgraded,” the source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told the newspaper. (Chronicle Herald)

Syria war: Tillerson urges Russia to stop supporting Assad

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is holding talks in Russia with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as America urges Moscow to stop supporting Syria. The visit comes amid tensions over last week's suspected chemical attack in Syria and US strikes on a Syrian base. Russia has condemned the American strikes and stands by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its long-time ally. (BBC)

Xi-Trump call: China urges 'peaceful' North Korea solution

China's President Xi Jinping has called for a "peaceful" resolution to tensions over North Korea, in a phone conversation with US President Donald Trump, Chinese state media said. On Tuesday Mr Trump tweeted that the US was not afraid of acting alone on North Korea if China would not help. Tensions have risen on the Korean peninsula after the dispatch of US warships to the region. (BBC)

Iran election: Ahmadinejad registers despite Khamenei warning

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has registered as a candidate in Iran's presidential election, despite being told not to by the Supreme Leader. Mr Ahmadinejad, a hardliner who served two terms between 2005 and 2013, filed paperwork for the 19 May poll at the interior ministry in Tehran. (BBC)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Ezra Levant: Media, politicians out of touch with Canadians on illegal immigration

One of the reasons we have so much trouble building consensus on issues having to do with immigration and refugees is that too many people don’t see a difference between those who are here illegally and those who followed the rules. Too many people can’t see the difference between those who have waited in line and filled out forms, passing police background checks, and those who are coming brazenly over the border demanding sanctuary and services in Canada. (Rebel)

Antonella Artuso: Illegal border crossings spark concerns about criminals entering Canada: Poll

Canadians have empathy for refugees crossing into the country illegally but their concern over border security trumps all, a newly-released poll reveals. Angus Reid Institute found that 50% of Canadians believe there’s a significant or huge risk of criminals and other dangerous individuals crossing into Canada through the unguarded border points now used by asylum seekers heading north from the U.S. (Toronto Sun)

John Ivison: Kellie Leitch’s vaunted values campaign is little more than humbug and semantics

Rarely has so much ink been spilled over so much humbug. Kellie Leitch has been condemned as anti-Muslim and a “karaoke Donald Trump” — and that’s just by her Conservative leadership rivals. But if you take a closer look at what she’s actually saying, it’s all tip and no iceberg. Her crackdown on immigration amounts to proposing there would be more face-to-face interviews with would-be migrants. (National Post)

L. Ian MacDonald: Trudeau and Freeland are sending Russia the right signals

Bashar al-Assad finally overplayed his hand with the international community last week in unleashing an unspeakable chemical attack that killed 87 Syrian civilians, including many children and infants. The horrific images of this event have sparked a consensus among western leaders that Assad must finally “be held to account” — in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s words — for “war crimes against innocents, against children.” In Normandy Monday to visit Juno Beach, the prime minister added: “We need to move as quickly as possible towards peace and stability that does not involve Bashar al-Assad.” (IPolitics)

Thomas Walkom: Justin Trudeau should defy Donald Trump’s demand for regime change in Syria

In his approach to the Syrian civil war, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is consistent in at least one respect. He consistently supports the dangerously inconsistent approach of Donald Trump. When Trump and his senior officials said, as they did just two weeks ago, that they had little interest in ridding Syria of dictator Bashar Assad, Canada was agreeable. But when Trump reversed himself, bombed a Syrian government airfield, and called for Assad’s removal, Trudeau gamely changed course too. (Toronto Star)

Susan Delacourt: Trudeau's enjoying a weird truce on trade with the Conservatives

Two versions of Rona Ambrose have been on display this week. On Parliament Hill, the Opposition leader has been throwing darts at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for everything from his vacation costs to sanctions against Iran and Russia. In Washington on Monday, the same Rona Ambrose presented herself as the PM’s staunch ally. “Park partisanship over here,” Ambrose told Alex Panetta from the Canadian Press, explaining how Conservatives would be working with Trudeau’s government to protect Canada-U.S. trade in the new climate of uncertainty south of the border. (IPolitics)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       The Standing Committee on National Defence met yesterday to study Canada and the Defence of North America (In Camera)

-       The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration met Monday to meet with Immigration Consultants (3:30PM EST) (Public)

-       The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met yesterday to discuss United States and Canadian Foreign Policy (Partly Public)