True North Initiative: News Scan 04 28 17

TOP STORIES

Liberals planning to rubber-stamp potentially dangerous asylum seekers

The Trudeau government is planning to quietly introduce new measures to rubber-stamp the approval of many asylum seekers — including people from dangerous and war-torn countries who may pose a threat to Canada’s national security. To deal with the unprecedented spike in landed asylum claims from aspiring refugees to Canada, Trudeau government officials are working on a plan to accelerate refugee applications by bypassing some of the important screening and vetting measures currently used by Canadian officials. (Toronto Sun)

Immigration sponsorship lottery draws nearly 100k applications

About 95,000 would-be sponsors vied for a chance to bring a parent or grandparent to Canada this winter, new data released by Citizenship and Immigration Canada reveals. Just one in 10 of those sponsorship hopefuls (10,000 total) were ultimately successful, but the government says the new lottery system it introduced last year is working to make the process fairer. Between Jan. 3 and Feb. 2, 2017, interested family members eligible to sponsor a new arrival were able to fill out an online form. Of those, 10,000 were randomly selected, according to a release issued Thursday. (Global News) (CTV) (CBC)

Terrorism advisers spent months waiting for meetings

Despite straining to tell everyone how important consultation is, the federal Liberals have waited 16 months to reboot their terrorism advisory panel. And of the 16 people appointed by their predecessors, the Liberals have held onto just four, leaving former members grumbling to The Gargoyle about the panel’s ideology and slow timeframe. The Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security acts as the government’s sounding board for everything from radicalization-prevention programs to cyber security and border screening. Its membership typically includes Muslim activists doing grassroots anti-extremism work, psychologists studying ethnic communities and social workers dealing with gang members. (Ottawa Citizen)

Inside a counter-terrorism investigation into two Canadians caught in Turkey

On March 23, 2016, Kadir Abdul and Samuel Aviles passed through security screening at Toronto’s Pearson airport eight minutes apart and boarded the 5:35 p.m. Air Canada flight to Istanbul. They landed at Ataturk Airport in the morning and made their way across Turkey, in the path of Abdul’s older brother Malik, who had already crossed into Syria to fight for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The details of the case, revealed here for the first time, offer a rare look at what happens when Canadians suddenly leave home amid concerns they have fallen under the influence of extremist groups. (National Post)

Willesden shooting: Police foil 'active terror plot'

Police say they have foiled an active terror plot after a woman was shot during a raid on a house in Willesden, north-west London. The woman, in her 20s, was one of the subjects of the investigation and is in a serious but stable condition. A raid also took place in Kent, with six people arrested in total. (BBC)

Canadian gets 15 months in U.S. for smuggling immigrants across Detroit River in 1999

A Canadian man has been sentenced to 15 months in a U.S. prison nearly 20 years after he smuggled immigrants across the Detroit River. Justice moved slowly in the case of Thanh Nguyen because he fled home to Ontario, Canada, and didn’t appear for his sentence in 2000. Nguyen, now 42 years old, was arrested last summer in Windsor, Ontario, a city across the river from Detroit. He was sentenced Thursday for smuggling immigrants on a boat back in 1999. Nguyen apologized to a judge, saying he was immature at the time. (Toronto Star)

Rights groups and opposition urge Liberals to help those fleeing anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya

The torture and imprisonment of dozens of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya is an emergency of "unprecedented magnitude" that requires an escalated response from Western leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Human Rights Watch says. "Canada has a great moral position on these issues," said Kyle Knight, a LGBT program researcher at the New York-based global rights watchdog. (CBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Asylum seekers fleeing U.S. may find cold comfort in Canada's courts

Migrants who applied for asylum in the United States but then fled north, fearing they would be swept up in President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown, may have miscalculated in viewing Canada as a safe haven. That is because their time in the United States could count against them when they apply for asylum in Canada, according to a Reuters review of Canadian federal court rulings on asylum seekers and interviews with refugee lawyers. (CBC)

Trump says he reversed major NAFTA decision after pleas from Mexico, Canada

President Trump said Thursday that he has decided to wait to start the formal process of withdrawing the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement after calls from the leaders of Mexico and Canada. Trump, speaking in the Oval Office, said he had been days away from signing the order to start the withdrawal process, but he said he has put that plan on hold after Wednesday phone calls from the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, and the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Instead, Trump says he will push hard on a renegotiation of the agreement. (Washington Post)

Trudeau retraces his father’s footsteps in visit to Miller High School in Regina

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is no stranger to the classroom, and before entering politics, he was a teacher. On Thursday, Trudeau stopped at Miller Comprehensive High School, and walked the same halls as his father, Pierre Trudeau, did 45 years earlier. This parallel wasn’t lost on one of Dave Hambleton’s social studies students. That grade 12 student had asked Trudeau about stepping out of his father’s shadow. (Global)

Ethics commissioner cleared Trudeau's fundraising in February

Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson concluded in February that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not contravene the Conflict of Interest Act when he participated in two fundraising events last year that were the subject of opposition complaints. (CBC)

Canadian ministers dine with senior Chinese officials as trade conflict looms with U.S.

While a potential conflict looms with the U.S. over trade, the Canada’s Liberal government is continuing to cozy up to China. Canadian ministers had high-level discussions and a private dinner this week with powerful Chinese officials, including the vice-premier who was seated next to President Xi Jinping at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-lago resort at the beginning of the month. (Canada.com)

Sajjan retracts claim he was ‘architect’ of Canada’s biggest combat operation in Afghanistan

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has apologized to Canadian, American and Afghan troops that he served with in Afghanistan for claiming that he was the “architect” of Canada’s most famous and bloodiest combat operation of that war. The minister made the claim in a speech last week in India. He told a gathering of security experts in New Delhi on April 18 that “on my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was the architect of Operation Medusa where we removed 1,500 Taliban fighters off the battlefield … and I was proudly on the main assault.” (Canada.com)

Quebec Liberal caucus faces corruption crisis after political interference allegations

The head of Montreal’s police union has thrown Philippe Couillard’s government into another Quebec corruption crisis after he alleged political interference blocked criminal charges against a current Liberal caucus member. (Globe and Mail)

Kevin O'Leary met with Andrew Scheer before backing Maxime Bernier

Kevin O'Leary praised Maxime Bernier on Wednesday as the candidate who best "mirrors" his policies, but CBC News has learned the reality TV star also held talks with another Conservative leadership candidate the night before. O'Leary had an extensive face-to-face meeting with Andrew Scheer in Toronto on Tuesday night. (CBC)

Q&A: Malcolm Nance on U.S. security and ISIS, a future ‘ghost caliphate’

“If you’ve read books like The Terrorists of Iraq and Defeating ISIS, you know Malcolm [Nance]’s expertise,” Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian’s U.S. national security editor, wrote in the foreword of The Plot to Hack America. That book, which came out in September, and was dedicated to Captain Humayun Khan, the American solider whose death became a matter of politics in the recent U.S. election—was prescient about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. (Macleans)

Trump's first 100 days in office: Day-by-day highlights

In his “Contract with the American Voter,” issued on the campaign trail last fall and bearing his distinctive, spiky signature, U.S. President Donald Trump outlined his 100-day plan to make America great again. The plan included measures to “clean up corruption” in Washington, protect American workers and introduce “extreme vetting” of people arriving to the U.S. from “terror-prone” regions. Trump made dozens of other promises throughout the election campaign, but what has he actually done in his first 100 days in office? (CTV)

Trump fears 'major, major conflict' with North Korea

US President Donald Trump has said he would like to solve the North Korea crisis diplomatically, but that a "major, major conflict" was possible. In an interview with Reuters he praised China's President Xi Jinping for his handling of North Korea, calling him "a very good man" who loves his country. (BBC) (Reuters)

North Korea obliterates US Capitol and puts the White House in crosshairs in terrifying World War 3 video mock-up

North Korea has released a terrifying new World War Three video showing a simulation of rocket attacks on the US Capitol and an American aircraft carrier. The propaganda film shows the White House in Pyongyang's cross-hairs before an animation shows a missile descending on Washington DC and exploding in a giant fireball. (Daily Mail)

Exclusive: Trump spurns Taiwan president's suggestion of another phone call

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday spurned the Taiwanese president’s suggestion that the two leaders hold another phone call, saying he did not want to create problems for Chinese President Xi Jinping when Beijing appears to be helping efforts to rein in North Korea. (Reuters)

Trump complains Saudis not paying fair share for U.S. defense

President Donald Trump complained on Thursday that U.S. ally Saudi Arabia was not treating the United States fairly and Washington was losing a “tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom. In an interview with Reuters, Trump confirmed his administration was in talks about possible visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel in the second half of May. He is due to make his first trip abroad as president for a May 25 NATO summit in Brussels and could add other stops. (Yahoo)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Ezra Levant: Canadian media silent on ISIS plot to assassinate Toronto journalist

On Wednesday's show I was joined by Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah who has just become a target for an ISIS assassination plot in India. Four suspected terrorists are now behind bars facing charges after the foiled plot. Where is the Canadian media on this issue and why do the RCMP seem uninterested? (Rebel)

John Ivison: If this is the case against Mark Norman, it’s awfully thin gruel

It is not yet clear whether charges will be levelled against one of the country’s top military officers, who RCMP investigators believe broke the law by passing sensitive information to the chief executive of a firm chosen to build a supply ship for the navy. But, based on the information contained in documents the RCMP filed to obtain a search warrant for Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s electronic devices, the decision to prosecute would be folly and likely end up in another embarrassment for the Horsemen. (National Post)

John Ibbitson: Conservative Party should be looking for a winner, not a caretaker

A common refrain from Conservative partisans, once the tape recorder is put away, is that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is unbeatable in 2019, and so whoever wins the party leadership next month will be a caretaker, holding things together until 2023, when the Liberals will be more vulnerable and the Conservatives might have a different, more electable, leader.This seems odd. (Globe and Mail)

Lorrie Goldstein: Liberals hiding their deficit

If you believe Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s claim that through her sound fiscal management she has balanced the province’s books and can now spend more on public services, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown rightly called Wynne’s budget a “Hail Mary pass” Thursday, cooked up by a Liberal government desperately trying to clean up the financial mess it’s made of the province’s books for the past 14 years, in time for next year’s election. (Toronto Sun)

Michael Harris: Conservatives and the cult of complacency

Reality TV tells us Canada’s got talent. The Conservative Party of Canada? Not so much. That’s the thought that came to mind as I watched the amateurish, interminable and largely empty act of ego-liberation the CBC hilariously presented as the final “debate” of the CPC leadership race Wednesday night. What else could one expect from a format that offered up witless repartee as “rebuttals” — and a long segment with no questions at all? (IPolitics)

Matthew Harrington: Here's what Canada should do about 'irregular' asylum seekers

Celine Cooper (“Let’s act to regularize flow of asylum seekers,” April 24), accurately diagnoses the problem, but prescribes the wrong remedy. As have several other commentators, Cooper suggests that the way to address the flow of “irregular” asylum seekers — which is to say, migrants who do not come through the established border checkpoints — is to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. This bilateral agreement between Canada and the United States requires asylum seekers to apply in the first of the two countries in which they arrive. (Montreal Gazette)

James Warren: SORRY, INTERNET: JUSTIN TRUDEAU IS ACTUALLY TERRIBLE ON PRESS FREEDOM

Canada has plunged 14 spots in two years on a list ranking how countries treat journalists. (Vanity Fair)

Richard Miniter: Why is Our Ally Qatar Hosting Terrorists Like Hamas?

One week after hosting U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Qatar will be hosting a conference by Hamas. Is there a better symbol of Qatar’s two-faced foreign policy? Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, is officially designated as a terrorist group by the United States, the Europe Union, Canada and Israel. Its human-rights abuses have been condemned by by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. (Forbes)

Andrew Coyne: Ontario promises a balanced budget, but it still doesn’t matter a whit

Where was I? Ah yes. Last year at this time, I was telling you that the government of Ontario was on the verge of balancing its budget, and that it did not matter. Now here we are a year later, and the government of Ontario is indeed promising a balanced budget. And it still does not matter. (National Post)

Chris Selley: Does anyone care the Ontario Liberals balanced their books? They did it, but for how long

Do people still care about balanced budgets? The Ontario Liberals sure seem to think so. “We did it!” Finance Minister Charles Sousa crowed, complete with exclamation point, in his prepared budget speech distributed to reporters in Thursday’s lockup. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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