True North Initiative: News Scan 05 02 17

TOP STORIES

Manitoba sets up reception centre for asylum-seeking border crossers

The Manitoba government is transforming a former seniors residence into a reception centre for asylum-seekers who walk across the border. The centre is being set up in Gretna, Man., an official border crossing close to Emerson where refugee claimants have been walking through fields to reach Canada from the U.S. (Winnipeg Sun) (Toronto Star)

'Suspicious behaviour' prompts heightened security at federal buildings

Federal public service workers are facing heightened security at some of their Ottawa buildings and told to be vigilant after an incident Friday at the headquarters of Canada's electronic spy agency. Ottawa Police confirm uniformed officers are on paid duty at the Communications Security Establishment building on Ogilvie Avenue as of Friday. (CBC)

'Stolen valour': Sajjan faces calls to resign in wake of Afghanistan battle claim

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Harjit Sajjan has his "full confidence" amid a growing controversy over the defence minister's exaggerated claim he was the "architect" of a major assault on the Taliban in 2006. Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose accused Sajjan of "stolen valour" for taking credit for the actions of another, and called on Trudeau to fire him for dishonouring himself and the military. (CBC)

PM Trudeau rebuffs calls for Sajjan's resignation amid charges of 'stolen valour'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his embattled defence minister endured a withering question-period offensive Monday as opposition MPs accused Harjit Sajjan of "stolen valour" for overstating his role in planning a 2006 battle in Afghanistan. Opposition parties trained their sights squarely on Sajjan, who apologized again in the House of Commons for having described himself as the architect of Operation Medusa, one of the bloodiest and most pivotal battles of the Afghan war. (CTV)

Ex-Canadian PM Harper: Popularity of My Support for Israel Among Electorate Makes It Difficult for Trudeau to Go in Different Direction

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Sunday that the pro-Israel stand he took while in office has made his successor, Justin Trudeau, cautious about moving in a different direction. Speaking at a Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) gala dinner in New York — at which he received the media-monitoring group’s Emet (“Truth”) Award — Harper noted that his record during his nearly decade-long stint as prime minister showed that anti-Israel media bias could be overcome and that average Canadians viewed Israel favorably. (Algemeiner)

Retiring Canadian general warns against skimping on support for future military missions

A retiring Canadian general who served a number of international tours in his almost 40-year career says there should be more resources for and less government control over future military missions. “I came back from Afghanistan and my biggest observation was what we have to stop is allowing capitals to run individual parts of the campaign,” said Maj.-Gen. Denis Thompson, who was attending an event in Calgary last week. Thompson, who recently ended a three-year tour as head of the Multinational Force and Observers in Egypt, also had postings in Germany and Bosnia. (Global)

Conservative party out-fundraises the Liberals, despite leadership contest

The federal Conservatives showed off their fundraising prowess during the first three months of the year, raking in almost twice as much as the governing Liberals despite being in the midst of a leadership contest that could be siphoning off potential donations to the party. When the leadership contestants’ money haul is added in, the Conservatives raised more than three times the Liberal take. (Canadian Press)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Conservative leadership hopeful, Erin O’Toole, pitches plan for Emerson

Could re-opening an old border crossing help reduce the influx of asylum seekers at Emerson? A Conservative leadership candidate is challenging the federal government to find out. Federal leadership hopeful Erin O’Toole visited Emerson’s closed former border crossing on International Avenue in the community to pitch its temporary re-opening on Monday, as well as stricter enforcement of immigration laws. (Winnipeg Sun)

Canadian tourism looks for a Trump dividend

This coming August, Toronto will play host to the mother of all conventions: the gathering of the American Society of Association Executives. Every person attending the meeting is responsible for planning their own meeting of thousands of people. And while a convention of convention planners may not exactly sound like a party, for those in the tourism economy, it is a big deal. (Globe and Mail)

This Syrian refugee found work in Canada, wants the same for others

Ask Wael Alhaddad about his first job in Canada and a huge smile spreads across his face. He came here as a refugee from Syria in January 2016, along with his wife and son, who's now five. He now works at Scotiabank's head office in Toronto, lending money to corporations. 'Thank God I'm in Canada' "I'm so happy," Alhaddad says. "Every single day, I say, 'Thank God I'm in Canada.'" (Yahoo)

Crown corporation at risk of procurement fraud, says auditor general

A Crown corporation that handed out nearly $1 billion in contracts last year should be doing more to prevent fraud, says a report by Auditor General Michael Ferguson's office to be tabled in Parliament later this month. Auditor Marise Bédard found a risk of fraud at Defence Construction Canada, and she identified fraud prevention at the Crown corporation as a "weakness." (CBC)

Stephane Dion made ambassador to Germany, but only 'special envoy' to EU

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says former Liberal leader Stephane Dion will be Canadian ambassador to Germany — but not to the European Union and Europe, where he will now serve instead as a "special envoy." The announcement comes three months after the prime minister put forward Dion's name to serve as ambassador to both the EU as well as Germany, an unsual dual posting that reportedly rankled in some diplomatic circles. (Chronicle Herald)

DND employees told not to drink water at new headquarters because of lead and chemicals

Employees at the Department of National Defence’s new Ottawa headquarters have been told not to drink water at the site after recent tests showed it contained unacceptably high levels of lead and chemicals. Bottled water is being passed out to workers at the $800 million facility in the west end of Ottawa, the former campus of defunct telecom company Nortel, and the Tim Hortons coffee shop on the site has suspended its service, a DND spokesperson confirmed. (National Post)

Conservative leadership Bernier’s to lose, observers say, barring ‘blockbuster deal’ among other camps

After Kevin O’Leary’s shock withdrawal from the Conservative Party’s leadership election last week and his endorsement of rival Maxime Bernier, there’s a growing consensus among close observers of the contest that it’s Bernier’s to lose — unless several campaigns mount a joint offensive in support of another specific candidate. And do it soon. Last-minute endorsements or second-place suggestions for the ranked ballot will essentially be moot after this week, because party members are already voting in the thousands. But Bernier’s rivals are doubling-down on their own campaigns, making partnerships less likely. Others in the middle of the pack say O’Leary’s exit and higher-than-expected membership numbers have opened up the race anew. (National Post)

5 reasons Trump is cheesed off about Canada

President Donald Trump has put Canada on notice about trade issues. That may leave many Americans scratching their heads, given that the country's northern neighbor hasn't sparked as much rhetoric from the current administration as Mexico. That may be changing. Mr. Trump in recent days has cited two issues as specific concerns: the Canadian dairy and softwood industries. Both have stirred long-term concerns among American producers, and the Trump administration's tough stance on trade is now pushing the disputes to the forefront. (CBS)

Missing Canadian woman and American boyfriend found dead in Belize

The bodies of a Canadian woman and her American boyfriend who went missing last week in Belize have been found. Francesca Matus, 52, was in Belize with her American boyfriend, 36-year-old Drew DeVoursney, when they disappeared last week. (Toronto Sun)

China Publishes Locations Of Corruption Suspects Living Overseas, Including In Canada

The Chinese government is trying a new method of catching corruption suspects now living overseas: naming and shaming. The state-run newspaper China Daily published the names, photos, and locations of 22 corruption suspects living abroad, mainly in Western countries like Canada, the United States, and Australia. (Huffington Post)

Exercise Summer Shield wraps up in Latvia as Canadian military prepares to move in permanently

Canada’s troops will live out of tents during the first few months of their June deployment in Latvia as the host nation feverishly prepares to accommodate a 1,200-soldier battle group aimed at deterring Russian aggression in the Baltics. Commanding officer of the Edmonton-based 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Lt. Col. Wade Rutland, said large-scale construction work is underway at the Adazi military complex to prepare for the arrival of troops in early June. (Edmonton Sun)

For African migrants, ‘extreme vetting’ from U.S. to Europe slams the door shut

The Trump administration’s immigration crackdown was only the beginning for Africans struggling to flee war and famine. New restrictions within Africa and opaque deals between European countries and African regimes could have a much more dramatic effect soon, Geoffrey York explains (Globe and Mail)

US anti-missile system operational in South Korea

The US military says its controversial Thaad missile defence system is now operational in South Korea. The system can intercept North Korean missiles although full operational capability is still some months away. Tensions have been rising around the Korean peninsula, with repeated threats from North Korea and the presence of a group of US warships and a submarine. (BBC)

Trump Says He’d Meet With Kim Jong Un Under Right Circumstances

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would meet with Kim Jong Un amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program if the circumstances were right. “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump said Monday in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.” (Bloomberg)

Opposition calls on Venezuelans to revolt as Maduro calls vote for a new ‘constituent’ assembly

Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, said he is convening the Constituent Assembly in a bid to fight a “fascist” takeover. The opposition called the move a “coup” and a “scam,” calling on supporters to take to the streets. (RT) (Bloomberg)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Christie Blatchford: To truly ‘own’ his mistake, Defence Minister Sajjan has to explain it

Well, what a sorry spectacle that was, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan standing, 11 times by my count, in question period Monday and talking about “owning” his mistake and never intending to “diminish the great work” of his superiors in the Canadian Army and other soldiers. Each time, he was visibly shakier, less convincing and frankly more pathetic, but he stuck doggedly to the script. (National Post)

John Ivison: Intoxicated with his own success, defence minister falls prey to hubris

Sometimes the House of Commons makes for uncomfortable viewing, much like those graphic “wildlife: raw and uncut” videos of hyenas eating wildebeest alive. In this instance, it was the hapless Minister of National Defence who was the unfortunate victim of a parliamentary mauling over his comments that he was the “architect” of Operation Medusa, the 2006 Canadian-led offensive in Afghanistan. (National Post)

Andrew Coyne: Fridays off? Here’s how to really reform Parliament, starting with limiting PM’s power

So the package of Parliamentary reforms the Liberals were preparing to ram through over opposition objections will no longer include measures to automatically curtail debate on government bills or limit speeches in committee or shutter Parliament on Fridays. Instead, House Leader Bardish Chagger informs us, the government will simply invoke “time allocation” — curtailing debate, not automatically and across the board, but one bill at a time — more often. (National Post)

Brian Lilley: Liberal Minister Harjit Sajjan has gone too far! Demand his resignation.

Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s Defence Minister has lied about his war record, and now he needs to go. Sajjan did one of the worst things you can do in the military, he lied about his battlefield record. In public and on purpose. Speaking before the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank in India, Sajjan, already known for his brave and heroic work in Afghanistan, actually claimed that he was THE one that designed Canada’s biggest offensive during our time in Khandahar. (Rebel)

Joe Warmington: Sajjan gets second chance, but the fallen soldier doesn't

Although acknowledging himself that he acted dishonourably, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is going to get a second chance. But for dying honourably, there will be no second chances for Sgt. Robert Dynerowicz. As they say, you find out who’s who, not in peace time but in war. We learned Monday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not care that his defence minister falsely boasted about being the “architect” of Operation Medusa in Afghanistan. (Toronto Sun)

Tarek Fatah: In France, Macron is the radical, not Le Pen

As a result of the first round of elections in France, the country has a choice between two contrasting characters. On one side is Marine Le Pen, an anti-Islamist advocate of French sovereignty, who supports French working class rights. She faces the front runner, former investment banker Emmanuel Macron, economic minister in President Francois Hollande’s government. (Toronto Sun)

Anneke Smit: Canadians have turned a blind eye to the Liberals’ refugee failures

Did Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cause the “influx” of refugees currently finding its way into Canada at unofficial border crossings from the U.S. with his “Canadians will welcome you” tweets? Unlikely. Will Canada become overrun with refugee claimants as a result of his statement following President Donald Trump’s first executive order and the legally required loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA)? Probably not, and even if it is, there is a refugee determination system—albeit an overburdened and imperfect one—which will decide whether or not they can stay. But the influx has become the focus of our collective attention because, finally faced with pressures at our own borders similar to the ones Western Europe has seen for the last 18 months, it is suddenly not so clear that Canada’s welcoming nation reputation is earned. And Trudeau is stuck between a rock and a hard place: wanting to appear as a leader of the progressive world with expansive statements of inclusiveness, and desperately trying not to jeopardize Canada’s important relationship with the United States—all while navigating potentially shifting domestic public opinion on immigration. (Macleans)

Frances Wooley: To pull away from the U.S. economy, Canada must look to its immigrants

Trade ties are like gravity. They are strongest when economies are large and close. Canadian goods and services are pulled south by the size and proximity of the American economy. But if U.S. protectionist rumblings turn into serious trade barriers, Canadians will need to find someone else to trade with – defying gravity – if we are to avoid economic catastrophe. (Globe and Mail)

Amber Jamieson: A one in a million chance at a better life: will the US green card lottery survive?

Getting “randomly selected” by the US state department would usually strike fear in the heart of foreigners. But on Tuesday, more than 100,000 people around the world will be chosen for the state department’s diversity immigrant visa program, also known as the green card lottery. The prize? A golden ticket to the land of the free, and the possibility of a new life. (Guardian)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs meet today for the Order in Council Appointments of Stephane Dion and John McCallum (8:45am) (Public)

-       Standing Committee on National Defence meet today to continue study on Canada and the Defence of North America (3:30pm) (In Camera)

-       Standing Committee on Citizenship met yesterday with Immigration Consultant today at 3:30pm (Public