True North Initiative: News Scan 04 14 17

TOP STORIES

Border services officer assaulted by asylum seeker detained for criminal past

Nearly half of the asylum seekers crossing the Manitoba border illegally in the last few weeks are being detained because of serious criminal records, suggesting the profile of would-be refugee claimants is changing, according to the union representing border patrol officers. One of them assaulted a female Canadian Border Services Agency officer as he was being sent to lock-up at the Emerson, Man., port-of-entry last weekend, said Jean-Pierre Fortin, National President of the Customs and Immigration Union. (CBC) (CTV)

Nearly half of illegal border crossers have criminal records, CBSA union says

Nearly half of the asylum seekers crossing the Manitoba border illegally in the last few weeks are being detained because of serious criminal records, suggesting the profile of would-be refugee claimants is changing, according to the union representing border patrol officers. (CBC)

Canadians are welcoming…but getting nervous

Shortly after Donald Trump was officially named as President of the United States, some of those living illegally in the US and /or awaiting word on their refugee claims began to worry about their situation in that country. A slow trickle of people began crossing unguarded areas of the Canada-US border, and once in Canada, claimed asylum. A new public opinion poll this month by the Angus Reid Institute seems to confirm a similar but slightly different poll taken last month by Ipsos/Reuters: Canadians are becoming concerned about the situation. (Radio Canada)

Canadians may be vacating the pews but they are keeping the faith: poll

Beneath Canadians’ widespread abandonment of places of worship and their negative view of even the word “religion,” a new poll has found a solid core of faith that continues to shape the country. The survey, conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with Faith in Canada 150, grouped respondents into four categories according to their answers on a range of questions gauging their beliefs and religious practices. (National Post)

Shying away from organized religion Canadians still keep faith: study

As millions of Canadians get ready to enjoy the long Easter weekend, a new study shows that even if they skip religious services, most Canadians are much less hostile toward religion than declining church attendances might imply. In fact, only about one-fifth of Canadians could be described as “not religious at all,” said Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, which conducted the study. (Radio Canada)

Canadian hands over command of counter-terrorism force to French Rear Admiral

Canada handed over command of Combined Task Force 150 to France on Thursday, completing Canada’s third command of the multinational maritime security and counter-terrorism task force located in the greater Middle East region. (Ottawa Citizen)

US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan

The US military dropped America's most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan Thursday, the first time this type of weapon has been used in battle, according to US officials. A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the "mother of all bombs," was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission. A MOAB is a 30-foot-long, 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition. (CNN)

Canada risks wrath of Trump if it doesn't boost defence cash: senators

Canada's spending on defence as a share of the overall economy is going to be substantially less this year than previously thought, according to a new Senate defence committee report. The bipartisan committee estimates that in the current budget year, the country will devote 0.88 per cent of its gross domestic product towards the military — far short of the two per cent target established by NATO (CBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

1st Quebecer to have murder charge stayed due to Jordan ruling to remain in detention

Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham, a Montreal man who saw second-degree murder charges against him stayed last week, will remain in detention pending his deportation for at least another month. Thanabalasingham, 31, is the first Quebecer charged with murder to have his case stayed because of the Jordan ruling — a Supreme Court decision issued last July which imposes strict limits on the waiting time for trials. (CBC) (Toronto Star)

Syrian family in Bishop's Falls anxious for daughter stuck in Aleppo

Months after their arrival as refugees, a Syrian family in Newfoundland and Labrador is still on edge — for their daughter and newborn grandson left behind in Syria. Rawya Zalam, 31, hasn't been able to leave Aleppo, her family says, even though her father and mother and two of her sisters have been living in Bishop's Falls for five months. (CBC)

Canada prepares to join Arms Trade Treaty

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland on Thursday said the Canadian government will introduce a legislation to enable the country to join the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The landmark ATT, regulating the international trade in conventional arms -- from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships -- entered into force on 24, December 2014, Xinhua news agency reported. (Business Standard)

Christian genocide in Iraq

The genocidal Islamic State is on its back foot in war-torn Iraq, and it is only a matter of time before the Islamist army is defeated by Iraqi and coalition forces. Christians, Yezidis and Shia Muslims in Iraq have been targeted by the jihadists for extermination. Employing mass murder, rape and ethnic cleansing, the Islamic State has perpetrated crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. (Christian Week)

Pot legalization bill provides many answers, but leaves some key issues in limbo

While Thursday's pot legalization bill answered a great many questions on what the Liberals want a legal recreational marijuana market to look like, some key details still need to be worked out. Between yesterday's introduction of the bill to legalize cannabis, and the 15 months it will take to pass it into law, some areas of the bill are likely to be modified at committee, while other areas will need to be fleshed out more fully — both in Ottawa and in the provinces and territories. (CBC)

36 ISIS fighters killed by US 'mother of all bombs': Afghan official

In its second major display of military might in one week, the US dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS positions in a remote part of Afghanistan. Afghan officials said 36 militants were killed in the strike in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistan border, where the US military previously estimated ISIS had 600 to 800 active fighters. (CNN) (BBC)

U.S. May Launch Strike If North Korea Reaches For Nuclear Trigger

The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News. (NBC)

Satellite photos show North Korean nuclear site 'primed and ready'

North Korean monitoring service 38 North said Wednesday the country's Punggye-ri nuclear site is "primed and ready" for a sixth nuclear test. "The activity during the past six weeks is suggestive of the final preparations for a test," 38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez told CNN. Their prediction comes as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that North Korea may have the capability to deliver missiles equipped with sarin nerve gas. (CNN)

Syria chemical attack 'fabricated' – Assad

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad says reports of a chemical attack by his forces were "100% fabrication". In an exclusive video interview with AFP news agency, he said "there was no order to make any attack". More than 80 people were killed in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April, and hundreds suffered symptoms consistent with a nerve agent. (BBC)

U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrike Kills 18 Anti-Assad Fighters in Syria: Pentagon

A U.S-led coalition airstrike against ISIS mistakenly killed 18 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting President Bashar Assad, the Pentagon admitted Thursday. A US MQ-9 Reaper plane was involved in the 'friendly fire' strike, which happened south of Tabqa in northern Syria on Tuesday. (NBC) (LA Times)

US immigration crackdown heats up for border crossers and tech workers

Encouraged by a sharp downturn in illegal border crossers, the US administration is ramping up a crackdown on undocumented immigrants, taking aim at both Central American laborers and Indian tech workers in Silicon Valley. Police, prosecutors and judges have been ordered to take a harder line against all illegal immigrants, detaining anyone without papers and vigorously prosecuting more of them. (France 24)

US, Mexico hunt corrupt, drug-pushing officials

Crooked cops, greedy governors and pusher-prosecutors: corruption and drug crime reach to high places in Mexico, which is getting a jolt from US efforts to hunt down top suspects. Analysts say officials have been getting away for decades with corruption in a country dominated by big, powerful drug gangs. (Yahoo)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: The Pitfalls of Single-Payer Health Care: Canada’s Cautionary Tale

In real-life America, unfortunately, there is no such courageous honesty from the political class. Even many in the Republican party, once the stalwart force fighting against the growth of big government, are now resigned to contemplating a government takeover of the health-care industry in the wake of their failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. Charles Krauthammer, for example, woefully predicts that President Trump will opt for single-payer health care. F. H. Buckley, meanwhile, optimistically calls for Trump to look to the Canadian model of universal coverage. (National Review)

Conrad Black: Being nice gets Canada liked. But we won’t be respected until we pull our weight

On Tuesday I was speaking on the radio by telephone with my friend Evan Solomon in Ottawa (where he has been since his shabby treatment by the moronocracy that “manages” the CBC). We were speaking of the American cruise missile attack on Syria, of possible scenarios in the Middle East and in U.S.-Russian relations. Evan referred to some comments Justin Trudeau had made about Syria, which were unexceptionable, and asked me what I thought the effect of them would be. Unfortunately, I said, they will have no effect, not because there was anything wrong with what the Prime Minister said, but because Canada has no influence whatever in the world. It is unique in this condition among G7 countries, because it has a monstrously inadequate defence capability and takes no serious initiatives in the Western alliance or in international organizations. (National Post)

Mohammad Adam: Let's put the 'sanctuary city' debate to rest in Ottawa

Perhaps sooner than later, city government will be asked to designate Ottawa a “sanctuary city,” ostensibly to make it easier for illegal immigrants to get services they need without fear of arrest or deportation. Those calling for the designation obviously mean well, but if and when the request is formally made, council should firmly reject the idea. (Ottawa Citizen)

Farzana Hassan: Where are Canada's motions condemning extremism and terror?

Terrorist attacks have been as unrelenting as ever. On March 22 a 52-year-old man stabbed a police officer after mowing down pedestrians near the British Houses of Parliament. The attack resulted in five deaths and several injuries. One of the slain was a mother of young children on her way to pick them up from school. On April 3 a young Kyrgyz bomber hit a subway station in St. Petersburg, Russia, killing 14. (Toronto Sun)

Paul Wells: Scowly Liberals legalize the demon weed

After reporters were given a few minutes to read the bill, federal officials from, mostly, the Health department were ushered into the National Press Theatre to brief us. One began talking. “What’s your name?” a few reporters asked. The official’s eyes bugged out in terror. My colleagues reassured him that we would not quote him in print, an assurance that is standard practice in these so-called technical briefings. “We’ve done this before,” one said. (Macleans)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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