True North Initiative: News Scan 04 26 17

TOP STORIES

Cops thwart death plot against Sun columnist Tarek Fatah

Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah was on an ISIS hit list because of “contentious issues related to Islam”, the Times of India reports. Cops in India say two terror suspects were arrested last week before they could get guns from an ISIS mole in Mumbai and make their sinister plot a reality. The duo were also targeting a Mumbai police officer. Fatah — known to Sun readers for his strong views on the Islamic world — earned a spot on the kill list after the would-be killers watched his YouTube videos and concluded his views on Islam were “highly objectionable”, police said. (Canoe.com) (Toronto Sun)

Liberals repeal Conservative immigrant residency requirement targeting marriage fraud

The Liberal government is repealing a measure brought in by the Conservatives that required newcomers to live with their sponsoring spouse for two years or face deportation. The conditional permanent residency status policy, which kicked in October 2012, was designed to clamp down on marriage fraud. But immigrant advocates said it had the effect of trapping some people in violent, abusive relationships. (CBC)

Prime Minister Trudeau photographed with former VP of group on Canada’s terror list

A photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posing with Veluppillai Thangavelu, the former vice-president of a group on Canada’s list of outlawed terrorist organizations, has underscored the pitfalls of selfie politics. Thangavelu, who was a senior official in the World Tamil Movement when it was the target of an RCMP investigation, posted a photo on Facebook showing he and Trudeau in Toronto last month. (National Post)

Illegal border crossings into Canada a hot topic for Conservatives and Liberals

“Help keep our borders safe,” read a recent fundraising pitch from the federal Conservative party – a plea the official Opposition is linking directly to the increased flow of asylum seekers crossing illegally into Canada. Since January, nearly 1,900 people have been intercepted by the RCMP crossing into Canada. Asylum numbers in general are on the rise, projected to be at historic levels by year’s end. (Global)

French judges issue another release order for Canadian held over bomb attack

Two French counter-terrorism judges have issued, for the sixth time, a release order in the case of extradited Canadian Hassan Diab, being held in France in connection with a deadly bomb attack in Paris. And once again, his supporters in Canada are calling on the Liberal government to demand his return. Diab, a former University of Ottawa sociology professor, was extradited to France in 2014 on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and destruction of property with an explosive or incendiary substance in connection with a 1980 synagogue bombing in Paris that killed four people. (IPolitics)

Most Canadians think privatizing airports is a bad idea: poll

Canadians aren’t sold on airport privatization, according to a new poll that found most people think it’s a bad idea. The federal Liberals continue to study options for privatizing Canada’s largest airports, based on the advice of two government panels that urged Ottawa to consider the idea as a way to raise billions in revenue that could help pay for new infrastructure. However, a survey by the Angus Reid Institute found 53 per cent of Canadians said privatizing Canada’s eight largest airports would be either a bad or very bad idea. Only 21 per cent said it was a good or very good idea, while 26 per cent said they didn’t know. (Globe and Mail)

U.S. commerce secretary denies 'trade war' with Canada

Trade tensions may appear to be escalating between Canada and the White House, but U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross denies that an all-out trade war is on the horizon. In an exclusive one-on-one interview with CTV’s Richard Madan in Washington, D.C., the Trump administration’s commerce chief touched on recent flare-ups over Canada’s dairy and softwood lumber industries, and discussed other sectors that may be reconsidered under NAFTA. (CTV)

Canadian soldier killed, 3 injured in training accident

One soldier has been killed and three others have been injured in a training accident at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright in northern Alberta. The military says in a release that the soldier killed is Sgt. Robert J. Dynerowicz from the Royal Canadian Dragoons, based at CFB Petawawa in Ontario. (Toronto Sun)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

With continued reductions in military spending, Canada faces NATO partners in May

Canada’s Prime Minister will be heading to Sicily in May for a meeting of the NATO allies. U.S. President Trump has made strong calls for NATO partners to fulfil their NATO defence spending obligations. Canada is among those falling behind. What kind of reaction will Justin Trudeau get from President Trump? David Perry is a senior analyst Canadian Global Affairs Institute, and a specialist in defence issues and international affairs. (Radio Canada)

Senators, opposition set to challenge pot bill age limits, prison terms in committee

Rules for the minimum age at which Canadians could buy pot, how many plants apartment-dwellers could grow, and lengthy maximum prison sentences could be challenged by Senators and opposition MPs as the government’s marijuana legislation passes through parliamentary committees. (Hill Times)

Less than a quarter of caucus undeclared in Conservative race, with a month to go

Less than a quarter of caucus members have yet to publicly endorse a candidate in the Conservative leadership race as the final month of campaigning begins. Their reasons for staying mum range from having multiple close friends in the race to opting to remain neutral due to their involvement in the leadership race organization. In total, 24 MPs and Senators have yet to endorse candidates. (Hill Times)

259,010 eligible to vote in Conservative leadership race

Newly released numbers by the Conservative Party show that 259,010 members will be eligible to cast a ballot in the party's leadership race. This represents growth of 150,000 members since the beginning of the January, according to a Conservative Party of Canada statement. (CBC)

Liberal MPs get closed-door briefing on harassment

Eager to avoid a repeat of past scandals, the Liberal caucus used a closed-door meeting last month to give MPs clear guidelines on appropriate workplace behaviour and to encourage them to report harassment between MPs and staff to the proper authorities, caucus sources tell CBC News. (CBC)

Trump's threat to withhold sanctuary city funds blocked by U.S. federal judge

A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump's attempt to withhold funding from "sanctuary cities" that do not co-operate with U.S. immigration officials, saying the president has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending. U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued the preliminary injunction in two lawsuits — one brought by the city of San Francisco, the other by Santa Clara County — against an executive order targeting communities that protect immigrants from deportation. (CBC) (Associated Press)

‘Full-scale terror attack drill' will take place Wednesday across DC region

Law enforcement officials, emergency managers and first responders will take part in a “full-scale exercise” Wednesday to help them prepare for possible terror attacks in the D.C. region. The planned drill will take place at six undisclosed locations around suburban Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District, though officials are not releasing specific details about where or exactly what will take place. (Fox DC)

China launches aircraft carrier, boosting military presence

China has launched a new aircraft carrier in the latest sign of its growing military strength. It is the country's second aircraft carrier, after the Liaoning, and the first to be made domestically. The as-yet unnamed ship was transferred into the water in the north-eastern port of Dalian, state media said. It will reportedly be operational by 2020. It comes amid heated rhetoric between the US and North Korea and ongoing tensions in the South China Sea. (BBC)

China convicts US woman Sandy Phan-Gillis for spying

A Chinese court has convicted American businesswoman Sandy Phan-Gillis for spying and ordered her deportation. Phan-Gillis was sentenced to three and a half years in prison by a court in Nanning, but it is unclear if she will have to serve the time. She was arrested in March 2015 while travelling with a business delegation from Texas through mainland China. (BBC)

North Korea tensions: US installs missile defence system in S Korea

The US military has started installing a controversial missile defence system at a site in South Korea, amid high tensions over neighbouring North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions. The Thaad system is designed to protect against threats from North Korea. Hundreds of local residents protested against the deployment, as vehicles carrying equipment arrived at the site in the south of the country. China argues Thaad will destabilise security in the region. (BBC)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Faith Goldy: Trudeau Cozies Up to ISIS-Funding Qatar

This week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Qatari State Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority. When I tried to gain access to event, Trudeau's staffers told me I was not allowed in as the PM was not prepared to take questions — and who can blame him? (Rebel)

Barbara Kay: When pointing to CBC’s anti-Israel bias, there are plenty of examples

Marwan Barghouti is a bad man, which is why he’s 15 years into a 40-year prison sentence. He’s also a charismatic political activist.  In its April 16 Sunday edition, The New York Times published an op-ed by Barghouti, “Why We are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons,” with the byline, “Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” (National Post)

John Ivison: Blame Canada was a spoof, Mr. President

As Donald Trump heads towards 100 days in power with nothing much to show for it, he appears to be attempting to distract public attention by making Canada a scapegoat. “Everything’s gone wrong since Canada came along” is no longer just a line from the South Park movie. Who would be surprised if Trump broke into a chorus of: “Blame Canada, with its hockey hullabaloo and that b—- Anne Murray, too”? (National Post)

Lorne Gunter: When all else fails, blame Canada!

Say you’re bombastic U.S. President Donald Trump and you’ve made your political hay by promising big on some hot-button issues. Now you’re coming to the end of your symbolic first 100 days in office and you have delivered on almost none of those. (Calgary Sun)

Terry Glavin: The global horror that Obama left behind

It’s not just that the Obama-led retreat from a century’s worth of covenants on war crimes, chemical warfare and other crimes against humanity in Syria has already all but destroyed the values-based international order. Nearly a half million Syrians have been killed, and the shadow of millions of refugees pouring across the Mediterranean is darkening all hopes of holding together a 70-year consensus that had united Europe. (Macleans)

Susan Delacourt: Trudeau and the problems of populism

Future historians may have a hard time explaining why citizens in a populist mood are putting powerful families in high office these days. Anti-elite Americans opted to be governed by Donald Trump, a billionaire who has installed his family members as deputies in the White House. It’s been a while since I looked at my old political theory texts, but I think family rule is kind of the opposite of populism. In France, presidential contender Marine LePen is urging citizens to vote for her in the second round of the election and end the rule of “arrogant elites” in her country. LePen is a second-generation leader of the Front Liberation, daughter of Jean-Marie LePen, who led the party from its foundation in the 1970s to 2011. (IPolitics)

Andrew Macdougall: Why are we talking about cupping and the Prime Minister?

A good politician goes into every interview with a message they’d like their audience to take away. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hard or soft news opportunity; politicians don’t open their traps unless it’s to get a point across they think will make them more electable the next time around. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t get as much stick for scripting himself as his predecessor did, but I guarantee you the Liberal communications team doesn’t let their leader bat an eyelid in public without knowing in whose direction it’s aimed. And so it surely was when Team Trudeau plunked their man down with Montreal-born baseball writer Jonah Keri. (Globe and Mail)

Tasha Kheiriddin: Now is not the time to crack down on border-hoppers

It’s not a flood — yet — but the river of refugees coming to Canada continues to rise. Since Jan. 1, the RCMP have intercepted 1,860 migrants crossing illegally into Canada from the United States: 315 in January, 658 in February, and 887 in March. Most of those have crossed into Quebec, near Lacolle, and into Manitoba, near Emerson. Last Friday, Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch visited Emerson and pledged to take a much harder line on the issue should she become Tory leader. (Global)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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