True North Initiative: News Scan 04 19 17

TOP STORIES

Human smuggling charge laid in case of asylum seekers crossing Sask. Border

RCMP say a human smuggling charge has been laid in relation to asylum seekers who were attempting to cross the U.S. border into Saskatchewan. The RCMP has been tight-lipped about the incident but say the charge was laid on Saturday. A press conference was scheduled for Tuesday but was deferred to Wednesday.  The RCMP has not said how many people were charged or who was the subject of the attempted smuggling. The asylum seekers were taken into custody by U.S. border authorities. (Yahoo)

Jail time awarded in B.C.'s largest immigration fraud case

Three women who fraudulently helped more than 1,600 immigrants become Canadian citizens or permanent residents were jailed and fined on Tuesday after pleading guilty to fraud worth $10 million and lasting for years in the largest immigration fraud case in B.C.’s history. Of the 1,647 immigrants, 27 have been removed from Canada and another 71 have been issued removal orders, some of which have pending appeals, Postmedia News has learned. There are 456 remaining investigations pending. (Province) (Metro)

'Racialized international students' targeted by Quebec government language probe, group says

Quebec's Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness faced allegations Tuesday of possible racial profiling and violating the constitutional rights of more than 500 international students whose French skills are the subject of an ongoing probe. Speaking at a news conference, Fo Niemi, director of the Montreal-based Centre for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR), said most of the students targeted by the ministry come from either China, India or the Middle East. (CBC)

Canadian defence minister accused of being Sikh nationalist during visit to India

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s visit to his native India this week has run into controversy after one of the country’s political leaders accused him of being a Sikh nationalist. Amarinder Singh, the top elected official in India’s Punjab province, where Sajjan was born, made the explosive accusation in an interview on Indian TV in advance of Sajjan’s trip. In the interview, Singh expressed anger over not being allowed to speak at political rallies in Canada last year before calling Sajjan and the other Sikh members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet “Khalistanis.” (National Post)

Trump vows to solve dairy dispute with Canada

President Donald Trump is promising to find a solution to a trade dispute with Canada that has left dairy farmers in Wisconsin and New York without a market for their product. Trump said during a speech Tuesday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that Canada has been "very unfair" to dairy farmers and "we're going to start working on that." Canada has decided to impose import taxes on ultra-filtered milk, a protein liquid concentrate used to make cheese. It had been duty-free but Canada changed course after milk producers there complained. (Associated Press)

Canadian envoy fires back at Trump over dairy, says criticism not based on facts

Canada's envoy to Washington has shot back at criticism by President Donald Trump and U.S. milk producers, saying the facts don't support a charge that the Canadian dairy industry is to blame for the woes of some American farmers. "Canada does not accept the contention that Canada's dairy policies are the cause of financial loss for dairy farmers in the United States," Ambassador David MacNaughton said in a letter to the governors of Wisconsin and New York that was released Tuesday night in rebuttal to Trump's surprise criticism of Canada earlier in the day. (Chronicle Herald)

Trump to sign new ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday will sign an executive order directing federal agencies to recommend changes to a temporary visa program used to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill high-skilled jobs. Two senior Trump administration officials who briefed reporters at the White House said Trump will also use the “buy American and hire American” order to seek changes in government procurement practices to increase the purchase of American products in federal contracts. (Globe and Mail)

Deadly attack near Egypt's old monastery

One policeman has been killed by gunmen who opened fire on a checkpoint near St Catherine's monastery in Egypt's south Sinai, officials say. Another three police officers were injured in the attack several hundred metres from the church entrance. So-called Islamic State group said its fighters carried out the attack. (BBC)

French police find bombs, make arrests over 'planned presidential election attack'

French police say they have foiled an imminent attack leading up to the presidential election, with the arrest of two men in Marseille on Tuesday. Explosives and multiple weapons were found at the suspects' flat in the southern port city. The two Frenchmen, one born in 1987 and the other in 1993, had met while sharing a prison cell and were known to police as having converted to radical Islam, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said at a press conference. (France 24)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

These Americans moved to Canada for political reasons. They don't regret it

It was late into the night of the 2016 presidential election. Or was it technically the early hours of the morning after? Mark Nykanen was up watching what had not yet been made official, but was certain: Donald Trump would become the 45th president of the United States. The next morning, he and his wife Lucinda Taylor woke up and knew it was time. Within a couple of hours, they made the decision. Within a couple of weeks, their house in The Dalles, Oregon, an hour and a half east of Portland, was on the market. (The Guardian)

Low-income Canadians face longer health care wait times: report

A new study out of Dalhousie University suggests lower-income Canadians face lengthier health care wait times when trying to access the nation’s publicly-funded health care system. The study clearly shows that there is income related inequality and those who have a higher income, they tend to have less of an issue with wait times compared to poor individuals,” said Mohammad Hajizadeh, an assistant professor of health economics at Dalhousie, and author of the study. (Global)

Crown argues accused Tamil migrant smugglers driven by profit, not aid

Four men who orchestrated a dangerous voyage across the Pacific were out to make a profit, rather than mutually help dozens of Tamil asylum seekers, the Crown prosecutor told their B.C. Supreme Court trial. In closing arguments at the human smuggling trial on Tuesday, Maggie Loda said the accused held a privileged position on board the MV Ocean Lady, taking part in operating the vessel, preparing the journey and helping migrants get aboard. The rickety cargo vessel left Thailand and arrived off the coast of Vancouver with 76 Sri Lankan asylum seekers in Oct. 2009. (Vancouver Sun)

Digital campaigns say they’ve convinced thousands to try to swing Conservative leadership contest to the centre

A network of amateur, online political campaigns is preparing to release a mock ballot for the Conservative leadership race to thousands of supporters in the party, in an effort to swing the contest away from candidates Kellie Leitch, Kevin O’Leary, and social conservatives in the race. (Hill Times)

Prime Minister Trudeau preferred leader to guide country ‘through a major crisis’: poll

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals would be supported by 38 per cent of the population if an election were held today, compared to 29 per cent for the Conservatives and 19 per cent for the New Democrats, according to a Campaign Research survey of 1,970 people. (Hill Times)

Trump’s latest Buy American order mostly rhetoric but could harm Canadian businesses: experts

Donald Trump announced new Buy American policies Tuesday that experts say could hurt Canadian businesses — and he took an opportunity to take a public dig at Canada’s dairy sector in the process. Although the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order Trump signed appears to contain more rhetoric than immediate action, there are fears American suppliers and distributors who now rely on Canadian input may turn inwards in anticipation of stricter policies down the road. Even if no change immediately takes place, U.S. firms may start to say, “I might as well just buy American,” warned Milos Barutciski, co-chair of the international trade and investment program at Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto. (National Post)

Australia is making covert propaganda videos to scare off asylum seekers

Delivered by a stern-faced, camouflage-clad major general, the video advertisement is algorithmically targeted at speakers of certain languages—in this case, Dari—who are located in a transit country such as Indonesia, where Rasuli is awaiting resettlement. These people are part of the thousands of refugees who could be considering paying a smuggler to take them the final odd 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) of their journey across the Indian Ocean to Australia, where they want to seek asylum. “Don’t waste your money or risk your life,” the general warns while images of Australian troops intercepting migrant boats roll in the background. “You will be intercepted and turned back.” (Quartz)

Trump blames Obama for rash of MS-13 murders

President Donald Trump is fingering the Obama administration’s “weak” immigration policies for the psychopathic MS-13 street gang taking root in the U.S. MS-13 - Mara Salvatrucha - is being blamed for a rash of homicides on suburban Long Island, N.Y. Many of the ultra-violent gang’s members are immigrants from Latin American countries, particularly El Salvador. Trump tweeted Tuesday: “The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S. We are removing them fast!” (Toronto Sun)

Wary of the U.S. sabotaging its missile program, North Korea is hunting for internal spies.

When a North Korean missile test went awry on Sunday, blowing up seconds after liftoff, there were immediate suspicions that a United States program to sabotage the test flights had struck again. The odds seem highly likely: Eighty-eight percent of the launches of the North’s most threatening missiles have self-destructed since the covert American program was accelerated three years ago. But even inside the United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, where the operation is centered, it is nearly impossible to tell if any individual launch is the victim of a new, innovative approach to foil North Korean missiles with cyber and electronic strikes. (New York Times)

North Korea tension: US 'armada' was not sailing to Korean peninsula

A US aircraft carrier and other warships did not sail towards North Korea - but went in the opposite direction, it has emerged. The US Navy said on 8 April that the Carl Vinson strike group was travelling to the Korean peninsula amid tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. Last week President Trump said an "armada" was being sent. (BBC)

General election 2017: May says it strengthens Brexit hand

A snap general election will help the UK make a success of Brexit and provide long-term certainty, Theresa May says. Defending her decision to seek a poll on 8 June, the prime minister told the BBC she had "reluctantly" changed her mind on the issue in recent weeks. Asking the public to trust her, she said a new mandate would give her the "strongest hand" in talks and make it hard for people to "frustrate" EU exit. (BBC)

Russia claims it can wipe out entire US Navy with a single ‘electronic bomb’ in bizarre propaganda report

RUSSIA has claimed it can disable the entire US Navy in one fell swoop using powerful electronic signal jamming. A news report from the country – where the media is essentially controlled by the state – said the technology could render planes, ships and missiles useless. (The Sun.co.uk)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Barbara Kay: How academics portray Islam as a’ victim’ of oppression — even as they defend violent Islamists

April 21 marks the opening, at the Berkeley campus of the University of California, of the sixth annual academic conference on Islamophobia. If past conclaves are a guide, the conference will be marked by a morass of impenetrable academic jargon and an unremitting flow of anti-Western rhetoric. Here, if one cares to observe, one may see the academic pistons of the blasphemy-law promotional industry pumping vigorously away at its task, to ensure that expression of hostility to the religion of Islam achieves cultural parity on campuses as a shaming thought crime, morally equivalent to expressed hostility to women, blacks, gays and aboriginals. (National Post)

Faith Goldy: Guard Our Border: Close Canada's Backdoor Loophole!

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t believe in our nation’s borders. It’s why the Trudeau Liberals partnered with the George Soros-funded Open Society’s Foundation for the express aim of increasing refugee resettlement in Canada. But now, there is an illegal migrant crisis at Canada's southern border. (Rebel)

Faith Goldy: BOMBSHELL: Inside Canada-USA “Refugee” Trafficking Ring

Canada and the United States are not separated by walls or fences but rather, the longest undefended border in the world. And, up until very recently, no one on either side gave our shared border much thought — until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invited the world to Canada over Twitter. Now the word is out and fake refugees are flooding in. (Rebel)

John Ibbitson: Ottawa must decide if it wants to help Chechnya’s gay men

Aid agencies are urging the Trudeau government to establish an emergency relocation program for gay men fleeing persecution in Chechnya. But thus far, Ottawa is prepared to offer only moral support. In the weeks since the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta first reported that Chechen authorities had detained and physically abused an estimated 200 homosexuals, three of whom have reportedly been killed, about 30 gay men have fled the republic, according to Kimahli Powell, executive director of Rainbow Railroad. (Globe and Mail)

Ian Smith: Does mass immigration drive up home prices: One study says 'absolutely'

Tucked away in a recent news report on the Turkish-turned-Syrian-refugee town of Kilis was this curious line: “Kilis rents doubled in some neighborhoods after the Syrians began arriving… [a]n apartment that cost $120 shot up to $300 a month…Turkish generosity may be wearing thin...” The remark raises an intriguing yet never-broached topic here in the US: Can immigration drive-up home prices? Logic would have to say yes; more bodies does indeed equal more demand for housing. But to what extent can prices be affected? Well, if Vancouver, Canada is anything to go by, the answer’s “a whole lot.” The housing market in the West Coast city has dominated national headlines in Canada for years with the city consistently topping global housing-unaffordability indices. (The Hill.com)

Neil Macdonald: Canada will legalize pot, after arresting a bunch of people for pot offences first

"Too many Canadians," declares the Liberal Party of Canada on its website, "end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts" of marijuana. Enforcement of cannabis law, it continues, "traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses." Well said. Courageous, even. Huzzah. So. What's the government's solution? Well, it intends to continue arresting, prosecuting and criminalizing Canadians who commit this minor and non-violent offence, at least for another year or so. Young Canadians are particularly vulnerable to arrest. (CBC)

Thomas Walkom: It’s time to end the Korean War

Here’s an idea for cooling nuclear tensions between North Korea and the United States. Why not start by negotiating an end to the Korean War? Technically, the war that began in 1950 when Pyongyang invaded South Korea is still ongoing. An armistice in 1953 halted the fighting, the idea being that the warring parties would meet within three months to hammer out a formal peace treaty. But the meeting never occurred. (Toronto Star)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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