True North Initiative: News Scan 04 17 17

TOP STORIES

Number of people seeking asylum in Canada from Mexico rises again

The number of people seeking asylum in Canada from Mexico continues to rise. New figures from the Immigration and Refugee Board show that March recorded the highest number yet of new claims in 2017 – 110, up from 85 in February and 71 in January, for a total of 266 so far this year. In all of 2016, there were just 241, statistics from the IRB show. (Macleans) (CBC) (National Post) (Huffington Post)

Former Lethbridge man accused of war crimes could be stripped of citizenship

Canada is moving to strip citizenship from a former Lethbridge resident accused of slaughtering villagers in Guatemala using a grenade, gun and sledgehammer more than three decades ago. Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes concealed his brutal role in a 1982 massacre by the Guatemalan military when he obtained Canadian citizenship a decade later, the federal government says in newly filed court documents. (Calgary Herald) (Toronto Star)

North Korean missile fails as tensions rise

Sunday's failed launch from North Korea's east coast, ignoring repeated admonitions from major ally China, came a day after North Korea held a grand military parade in its capital, marking the birth anniversary of the state founder, displaying what appeared to be new long-range ballistic missiles. (Sky News)

U.S. VP warns North Korea: 'patience is over'

Viewing his adversaries in the distance, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence travelled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over." Pence made an unannounced visit to the Demilitarized Zone Monday at the start of his 10-day trip to Asia in a U.S. show of force that allowed the vice-president to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire. As the brown bomber jacket-clad vice-president was briefed near the military demarcation line, two North Korean soldiers watched from a short distance away, one taking multiple photographs of the American visitor. (CTV)

Freeland: China could help coax North Korea into 'civilized world'

As tensions escalate between the United States and North Korea, Canada’s foreign affairs minister is looking to China to help “bring North Korea back into the civilized world.” Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland spoke to CTV’s Question Period with Evan Solomon, where she condemned recent North Korean missile tests and outlined Canada’s strategy for a resolution. On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Trump administration is willing to do whatever necessary, including its own pre-emptive strike, to prevent a North Korea attack. (CTV)

Pakistanis should look within before complaining about Islamophobia: Malala Yousafzai

Education activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai says the people of Pakistan need to do some serious soul-searching in the wake of the recent slaying of a university student who was beaten to death for professing progressive views about Islam. Mashal Khan, 23, was lynched by an angry mob after a heated debate about religion spilled out of a dorm and out into the open. According to Reuters, witnesses claimed police hesitated to save Khan, and an imam at the local mosque refused to read the last rites at his funeral. (Global News)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Afghan interpreter fears assassination for serving Cdn troops, wants to move to Canada “Disappointing” and “unacceptable.” That’s how federal Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole describes the “terrible” response from Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to an Afghan interpreter’s fear of assassination for serving Canada’s troops. Karim Amiry, 28, now living in Kabul, Afganistan, served with Quebec’s Bulldog Company of the Royal 22nd Regiment from 2009-11. Taliban insurgents have threatened to kill him and Amiry now wants to come to Canada. (Canoe)

Kellie Leitch steps back from visitor screening pledge

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch may be stepping back from her promise to screen all visitors to Canada for Canadian values, though she's holding firm on immigrant and refugee interviews. In an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period, Leitch said she wants to "do the process properly." "That means doing face-to-face interviews, based on the Senate standing committee report published in 2015, that recommends that we do face-to-face interviews," Leitch said. (CTV)

Justice Minister defends proposed 14-year maximum sentence for providing cannabis to minors

A prison sentence of up to 14 years for providing cannabis to youth is shaping up as one of the early points of contention as the Liberal government prepares to defend its landmark legislation to legalize recreational marijuana. Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, makes clear in its opening passages that the main purpose of the legislation is to prevent young people from accessing cannabis. (Globe and Mail)

B.C. voters open to meditation and Christian prayers in schools: Poll

Many British Columbians are open to allowing both mindfulness meditation and Christian prayer in public schools, according to a poll conducted for Postmedia News. There is little enthusiasm, though, for First Nations prayers or “smudging” ceremonies, with more opposed than favouring the practices, which have recently been the subject of legal action in B.C. These are two of the surprising results of a Mainstreet Research poll of 5,500 British Columbians, conducted on the eve of Easter, that probed several thorny issues related to religion and education. (Province)

Conservative leadership race enters ‘horse-trading phase’ and candidates are making deals

With the Conservative leadership campaign in the home stretch, candidates and their top strategists are now reaching out to Parliamentarians, rival leadership candidates’ campaign officials and supporters, and building alliances for second-, third-, and subsequent-ballot support as none of the 14 candidates is likely to win on the first ballot in this close contest. (Hill Times)

TPP was Obama’s ‘renegotiation of NAFTA’: former trade envoy

A former U.S. trade representative says the Obama administration viewed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement as a sort of “renegotiation of NAFTA.” Michael Froman explained to The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos that like President Donald Trump, the former administration recognized there were issues within NAFTA. It just had a different way of tackling the problem. (Global)

Aging veterans battle PTSD and dementia to this day

Hubert Gray doesn't sleep well at night. The days are fine but when he closes his eyes under the cover of darkness he's haunted by a time long past. A time of bullets and blood, of dismay and death. "I fight the whole bloody war all night. I don't understand PTSD but you're constantly worried 'Is somebody gonna attack or not?' Quite often (I relive) the actual battle." (Calgary Sun)

North Korea threat ‘can’t go on’

The US and China are working on a response to the North Korean missile crisis, Donald Trump’s top security adviser has said. General HR McMaster said China had joined an international consensus that Kim Jong-un’s “threatening behaviour” could not continue. The countries are working on a “range of options” in response to a failed missile test by the regime and growing tensions over its nuclear programme. (The Times)

Hawaii panel asks state to prepare for North Korea attack

Hawaii lawmakers want state officials to update plans for coping with a nuclear attack as North Korea develops nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can reach the islands. The state House Public Safety Committee unanimously passed a resolution Thursday. Committee Vice Chairman Matt LoPresti says he's not trying to spread fear. But he wants the public to know the government is taking steps to protect them in the worst case scenario. (Hawaii News)

China warns against war amid North Korea's parade of military might

There can be no winners in a war between the U.S. and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, while pledging support for dialogue between the sides as tensions have recently been on the rise. "We call upon all the parties, no matter verbally or in action, to stop provoking and threatening each other and not to allow the situation to become irretrievable and out of control," Wang said. (CBC)

TURKISH OPPOSITION URGES BOARD TO CANCEL REFERENDUM RESULT

Turkey's main opposition party urged the country's electoral board Monday to cancel the results of a landmark referendum that granted sweeping new powers to the nation's president, citing what it called substantial voting irregularities. Bulent Tezcan, deputy chairman of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, cited numerous problems in Sunday's vote, which gave a narrow victory to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's long-time plans to greatly expand the powers of his office. (Associated Press)

After U.S. Talks With Afghanistan, Hints at a Harder Line on Pakistan

Talks between the United States and Afghanistan wrapped up here on Sunday, as the Trump administration reviews its options in the 15-year American presence in Afghanistan in the face of a resurgent Taliban. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, met with Afghan leaders, including President Ashraf Ghani, in talks that came days after the United States dropped a huge bomb on a honeycomb of Islamic State caves in eastern Afghanistan. (New York Times)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Canadians are right to be concerned about border security

There is a crisis on our southern border. And Canadian officials seem woefully unprepared to deal with the ongoing flow of migrants illegally crossing into Canada. These illegal crossings create a real security threat, and Canadians are not happy about it. Canadians are right to be concerned about the self-proclaimed and self-selected refugees coming in through the back door. A remarkable video by Faith Goldy of The Rebel Media reveals part of the problem. (Toronto Sun)

Lorrie Goldstein: Wynne and Liberals excel at fake news

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her cabinet ministers excel at alternative facts and fake news. The latest example was Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s speech Thursday to The Empire Club, part of which boasted about how the Liberals saved Ontario’s electricity system by doing the heavy lifting needed to improve it. (Winnipeg Sun)

National Post View: From the time of Christ until the present day, real news matters because truth matters

There was no journalist on hand, but there was news that first Easter morning. Astonishing news. Mary Magdalene was there and reported it to the apostles, “I have seen the Lord” — words that will resound the world over as they are proclaimed by Christians at worship. The Christian faith insists that Mary Magdalene’s report is, in fact, news. Indeed, everything depends upon it. St. Paul would make the point in his customarily bold fashion: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (National Post)

Thomas Walkom: Trudeau following Trump’s dangerous path on 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. (Hill Times)

Campbell Clark: A dirty little secret about governments? No matter the party, they all like to avoid scrutiny

Here’s a political trivia question: Which prime minister, Stephen Harper or Justin Trudeau, ran on the open-government promise to strengthen the Access to Information Act, but then delayed and made lame excuses and failed to deliver? It’s a trick question, unfortunately. The answer is both. (Globe and Mail)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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