True North Initiative: News Scan 05 04 17

TOP STORIES

Senate passes bill that repeals many Conservative citizenship changes

The Senate approved the Liberal government’s major citizenship bill Wednesday, after a nearly year-long legislative process resulting in changes affecting citizenship revocation, children’s rights and language requirements. The Senate voted to pass Bill C-6 Wednesday, with 45 senators voting in support of the legislation, 29 against, and no abstentions. The wide-ranging bill would repeal many parts of the former Conservative government’s citizenship legislation, including a provision that revoked citizenship from dual Canadian citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage. (Globe and Mail) (National Post)

Troops who lost tax benefit say government failed them

Canadian troops who lost a tax benefit while serving in Kuwait say they're being punished for speaking out against the change. Canadian Armed Forces members working on the mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria say, despite a House of Commons vote in favour of reinstating their tax-free benefit, the 15 people serving at Camp Arifjan still won't be getting their incomes tax-free. “The feeling is despair at this point,” one soldier, whose identity is being protected, told CTV News. “We haven’t really heard anything and it doesn’t seem very optimistic.” (CTV)

Committee urges restrictions on Canada’s spy agency powers

In a report Tuesday, the Liberal-dominated public safety committee also recommended requiring a judge’s approval for any Canadian Security Intelligence Service disruption operations that fall short of breaching constitutional guarantees, but nevertheless break the law. Currently, CSIS efforts to derail plots could involve taking down an extremist’s website, cancelling airline tickets, disabling a vehicle – or even more drastic actions. (Macleans)

Census 2016: In a rapidly greying Canada, centenarians are the fastest growing segment of the population

Canada saw its largest ever increase in the proportion of senior citizens in the five years ending in 2016, such that for the first time in history there are now more Canadians over 65 than under 15. The proportion of senior citizens was up 20 per cent while Canada’s overall population was up five per cent, according to newly released data from the 2016 census. (National Post) (Globe and Mail)

Trudeau defends press freedom as Canadian journalists face jail time

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the importance of a free and independent press on Wednesday after he was criticized over Canadian reporters who face jail time for doing their jobs. "A strong and independent media, a free press, is essential in the protection of our democracy and of its institutions," Prime Minister Trudeau said in the House of Commons during the daily question period. "It gives confidence to Canadians and today on World Press Freedom Day, it is important to highlight just that. Yes, of course, journalists should always be able to protect their sources. That is something we believe in strongly as a government and that is something that we will continue to defend and fight for, not just here in Canada, but around the world." (National Observer)

Trudeau to attend public fundraiser as Liberals resume high-profile event

The prime minister will be appearing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal for a federal Liberal party fundraiser Thursday evening, which is unremarkable except for the fact that anyone can go. Anyone, that is, who has up to $250 to spare for a ticket, wants to give that money to the Liberal Party of Canada, and is not registered to lobby the PMO. (CTV)

Prince Philip to retire from public engagements

Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, will stop carrying out public engagements this fall, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. The palace said the Duke of Edinburgh will still head numerous charitable organizations, but will not play an active role in attending engagements. "The Duke… may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time," the statement said.  The palace added the decision has the "full support" of the Queen. (CBC) (BBC)

Ethics watchdog considers request to revisit probe into Sajjan over detainee abuse inquiry

Parliament's ethics watchdog is considering whether to revisit her earlier decision not to investigate Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan for a possible conflict of interest violation related to alleged Afghan detainee abuse. Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson revealed her position in a written response to NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who on Tuesday had asked the watchdog to reconsider her decision not to investigate Sajjan. "I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated May 2, 2017," Dawson said in the letter. "Please note that I am reviewing your request." (CBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Reporters should be able to protect sources, Trudeau says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons he believes journalists should be able to shield their sources. But the opposition challenged him to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. In his strongest statement yet on press freedoms, Trudeau endorsed the notion of reporters being able to protect the identity of their confidential sources on World Press Freedom Day, hours after he hailed the value of a free and open press as “crucial to an informed and engaged citizenry.” (Toronto Star)

Sajjan says military hurt by lack of money, stops short of promising new funds

Questions swirled on Wednesday as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan offered a grim assessment of the state of the military, but stopped short of saying exactly how the government plans to fix it. In a major speech to a who's-who crowd of defence industry representatives and experts, Sajjan said years of underfunding had hollowed out the armed forces and left them struggling with even basic tasks. (Chronicle Herald)

LGBTQ refugee claims heard under new guidelines

LGBTQ refugees arrive from countries all over the world, seeking safety and a better life in Canada. But proving their need for refugee status, has been a challenging and sometimes humiliating process for many. On Monday, the Immigration and Refugee Board released guidelines, for the first time, in how adjudicators must handle such cases. (Radio Canada)

Changes to Regulations Will See Age Increased for Dependent Child

The new age limit of “under 22” will come into effect this fall, on October 24, 2017, raising it from the current “under 19” requirement. The increased age will apply to new applications for all immigration programs under Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, including for refugees. Children who are 22 years of age or older and who rely on their parents due to a physical or mental health condition will continue to be considered dependent children. (Canada.ca)

Canada's Increasingly Older Population Will Pose Challenges By 2031

After nearly four decades in the workforce, 64-year-old Louise Plouffe is looking ahead to retirement. But Tristan Plummer, 23, is looking for work. Plouffe and Plummer represent opposite ends of the age demographic that defines the Canadian labour force, which is in the throes of unprecedented change, according to Statistics Canada's latest census figures released Wednesday. The proportion of Canadians aged 15 to 64 grew just 0.4 per cent between 2011 and 2016, its lowest rate since 1851, comprising 66.5 per cent of the population. (Huffington Post)

Racial profiling is daily reality for many Ontarians: Ont. Human Rights Commission report

A new report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) suggests that racial profiling is a daily experience for many racialized and Indigenous people in Ontario, arguing that the province is at a "critical juncture" when it comes to addressing the issue. The report, called Under suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling in Ontario, is based on social science research and consultations with more than 1,600 individuals and organizations from Indigenous, racialized and Muslim communities across the province. (CBC)

What to know about France’s next president

By any measure, this has been a historic race for the Élysée Palace as traditional parties have been obliterated and voters are ready to embrace either a politically inexperienced ex-banker in Mr. Macron or a far-right populist in Ms. Le Pen. They finished first and second in the first round of voting on April 23, taking 23 per cent and 21.3 per cent respectively in a field of 11 candidates. (Globe and Mail)

Student convicted of terrorism after planting explosive device on London Underground

A student who caused evacuations on the London Underground with an explosive device he left on a Jubilee line train has been convicted after being arrested by armed officers from the Met’s Counter-Terrorism Command. Damon Smith was found guilty at the Old Bailey today of unlawfully and maliciously making or possessing an explosive substance with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury. (East London Advertiser)

Mosul battle: Iraqis open up new front to retake city from IS

Iraqi security forces say they have opened a new front in the operation against so-called Islamic State (IS) militants in north-western Mosul. Troops from the army's 9th Division and the police's Rapid Response Force are now advancing on the Musharifa, Kanisa and Haramat districts from the north. (BBC)

Somalia attack: Minister Abdullahi Sheikh Abas killed in Mogadishu

Somalia's security forces have shot dead a 31-year-old government minister after mistaking him for a militant Islamist, officials have said. He was killed in his vehicle near the presidential palace in the capital, Mogadishu, the officials added. (BBC)

North Korea Says Latest Detained American Tried to Overthrow Government

A U.S. citizen detained last month in North Korea is being investigated for seeking to overthrow the government, the country’s state-controlled news agency said. Kim Sang Dok committed “criminal acts of hostility aimed to overturn” North Korea—“not only in the past but also during his last stay before interception”— the Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday, adding that the “interception” had taken place April 22 at Pyongyang’s international airport. (Wall Street Journal)

Flames, fatality at Venezuela demo over leader's crisis maneuver

Venezuelan police fired tear gas and hooded protesters hurled Molotov cocktails as thousands rallied in anger at President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution. Flames erupted in the latest of more than a month of clashes that prosecutors say have killed 32 people in the oil-rich nation, stricken by food shortages. (Yahoo)

Armored Car Hits Crowd as Venezuela Riots Leave 300 Injured

A Venezuelan national guard armored vehicle careened into a crowd of anti-government demonstrators in Caracas on a day of furious protests that left more than 300 people injured. The newspaper El Nacional published videos Wednesday showing the vehicle backing up as a gasoline bomb burst on its windshield. Crowds raced toward the vehicle and then suddenly fled as it advanced, and masked soldiers battled protesters in a chaotic melee. Rocks, bottles, shots and tear gas filled the air. One person was confirmed dead in Caracas. (Bloomberg)

More protests planned in Venezuela as death toll reaches 32

Violence erupted in the latest of more than a month of clashes that prosecutors say have now killed 32 people in the oil-rich nation stricken by shortages of food, medicine and other basics. Government forces used tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators marching along a highway in east Caracas, the prosecutor's office said. Protesters fought back with rocks and Molotov cocktails. (Times Live)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Candice Malcolm: Former immigration judge has ‘grave doubts’ about IRB reforms

As first reported in the Sun, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has introduced a new process for determining the eligibility of asylum seekers arriving in Canada. This streamlined process means, in some cases, that a refugee claimant will be approved without a hearing in front of an immigration judge. While the IRB is defending this controversial practice, a former immigration judge is speaking out about the security implications of scrapping the in-person hearing. (Toronto Sun)

Anthony Furey: Furey: Trudeau tells world media alternative facts about Canada’s 'headscarf bans'

Once again, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has misrepresented Canadian policy on the world stage. In the cover story of the most recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Trudeau claims the former Conservative government advocated “headscarf bans”. It’s simply not true. (Toronto Sun)

John Ibbitson: Why you can thank multiculturalism for Canada's strong population growth

As the latest statistics confirm, Canada is the most blessed place on earth, with a dynamic, diverse and relatively young population that will continue to grow until, by mid-century, we will rival some of the largest nations of Europe in size. We can thank three decades of enlightened government for these glad tidings – something to remember the next time we grumble about the fools on the Hill. (Globe and Mail)

Geoffrey Johnston: Egypt's Christians in danger

We live in dark and dangerous times. Far from being a progressive and tolerant era, the second decade of the 21st century is characterized by religious fundamentalism and murderous hatred of the "other," especially in the Middle East. Ancient religious communities in a number of Muslim-majority countries are being pummelled by jihadists, persecuted by intolerant societies, and left unprotected by uncaring governments. (The Whig)

Meagan Campbell: Is Trudeau’s youth council also a Grit recruitment scheme?

Chris Zhou of Charlottetown is 18 years old and has met the entire Liberal cabinet. As a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, he was flown to Calgary in January and ate Indian food alongside ministers Armajeet Sohi, Catherine McKenna and Ahmed Hussen, and spent about five hours with Justin Trudeau. He had already met the PM at a previous meeting in Ottawa, though the leader skedaddled after 15 minutes. “He planned to stay longer,” Zhou recalls, “but he had to go to Israel for official functions.” (Macleans)

Ezra Levant: Will Trudeau let China bring thousands of peasant-style labourers to Canada?

Canadian unemployment ticked up last month, from 6.6 to 6.7 per cent. The housing situation is tough, too, especially in the big cities; housing prices in Toronto are up 31 per cent in just one year.  So what if, in this atmosphere, the Chinese government brought in thousands of peasant-labourers to work in Canada? (Rebel)

Chantal Hebert: Sunny ways fading as the Liberals hit the halfway mark in their mandate

So much for sunny ways! As Justin Trudeau’s government nears the halfway mark of its first mandate, finding some willingness to engage in adult conversation on either side of the House of Commons is almost as hard as it was on the worst days of the previous Conservative government. Since the new year, the tone has steadily deteriorated, and if this week is anything to go by the climate is bound to become more toxic until Parliament finally breaks for the summer. (Toronto Star)

Jack Mintz: We need a Canadian tax-reform crusade, because saving NAFTA won’t be enough

Last week, Canadians were confronted by several U.S. policy disruptions. The Trump administration proposed countervailing duties on Canadian lumber exports to the United States. The president also challenged unfair Canadian practices that discriminate against U.S. dairies. Trump even raised the possibility of cancelling NAFTA altogether if Canada and Mexico do not negotiate a better deal. (Financial Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs meet today to study United States and Canadian Foreign Policy (8:45am) (Public)

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

-       Standing Committee on Citizenship met yesterday to begin study on the 2011 LGBTQ Refugee Pilot Project (Public