True North Initiative: News Scan 05 12 17

TOP STORIES

Accused wife killer, set free on trial delays, ready to be deported to Sri Lanka

The first murder suspect in Quebec to be set free after the length of his criminal proceedings exceeded the legal limit told immigration and refugee authorities Thursday he wants to be deported back to Sri Lanka. Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingam, a refugee from Sri Lanka who was charged with murdering his wife, told the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada during his detention hearing he no longer fears returning to his home country. (Canoe) (CBC)

'Humanitarian crisis': Report details abuses suffered by Central America migrants

Migrants from Central America's violence-plagued Northern Triangle region endure harrowing abuses while trying to make their way through Mexico toward the United States, a report from an international medical group said Thursday. Doctors Without Borders, or MSF for its initials in French, called the situation a "humanitarian crisis" that demands the U.S. and Mexican governments do more to process applications for asylum and humanitarian visas. It said the study was based on surveys and medical data from the last two years and documents "a pattern of violent displacement, persecution, sexual violence and forced repatriation akin to the conditions found in the deadliest armed conflicts in the world today." (CTV)

CSIS mobilized after Montreal airport terrorism scare

Shocking revelations this spring about security at Montreal’s airport caused Canada’s spy agency to mobilize “very quickly” and re-screen tens of thousands of files, one of its officials said Thursday. TVA network reported March 28 that four Aéroport de Montréal employees lost their security clearance because they showed potential signs of being radicalized. Employees had visited Islamic State propaganda sites and had looked up weapons and explosives documents, TVA reported. (National Observer)

Trudeau tabs career security official David Vigneault to head CSIS

David Vigneault, a senior government official with experience at several federal security agencies, will be the next head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Vigneault will assume the post June 19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday. Currently assistant secretary to the cabinet for security and intelligence, the career public servant takes over CSIS amid a sweeping review of the national security landscape. (Global) (CTV)

CSE examining ‘vulnerabilities’ in election system

The Communications Security Establishment has begun a promised review into the risks of foreign interference in the 2019 election, the Star has learned. CSE, Canada’s signals intelligence and cyber defence agency, is conducting a “risk assessment” into how vulnerable Canadian elections are to foreign hacking and information operations. The timeline for the review, and its eventual public release, appears to have been largely left up to the spy agency. The review was ordered by the Liberal government in February, as the scope of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was being made public by American intelligence agencies. (Toronto Star)

Justin Trudeau at ‘Khalistan event’ angers India

India has taken up with Canada the issue of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's presence at a recent event in Toronto to felicitate two legislators who had authored a motion in the Ontario assembly terming the 1984 anti-Sikh riots "genocide". Khalistani flags were allegedly waved at the event. "We have taken up such issues in the past with the government of Canada through diplomatic channels. What I can mention without going into the details of this particular instance is that the practice has not been discontinued," foreign ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said. (Times of India)

Canada’s decision on peacekeeping mission is now delayed for months

Canada’s high-profile military mission to Africa appears off the radar for now with a decision on a deployment delayed, perhaps until fall, the Star has learned. Political upheaval among key allies — notably the United States, France and Great Britain — is cited as the reason why Justin Trudeau’s government has pushed back its high-profile pledge to return Canada to international peacekeeping efforts. The federal government does not want to deploy soldiers on a potentially dangerous mission only to find other nations have decided their priorities lie elsewhere, leaving Canada “stuck with a legacy mission,” one source told the Star. (Toronto Star)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Military Officials: Exit Strategy Required For Canadian Peacekeeping Missions

Make sure you have a plan to get out before you actually get in. That is one of the main messages of an internal paper that military officials prepared last summer as they considered the challenges associated with the Liberal governments' promised return to international peacekeeping. The paper also warns about the need to clearly explain why whatever mission the government chooses is in the national interest and expresses real concerns about the threat posed by terrorism. (Huffington Post) (CBC)

Canadians in Latvia to keep calm and carry on in face of massive Russian military exercise

The Canadian military is taking a wait-and-see approach to a massive Russian military exercise scheduled to take place on the border of the Baltic states this summer — but the country it's being asked to protect is decidedly more nervous. Defence officials in the United States said this week that they will pay close attention to the drills, which are expected to involve between 70,000 and 100,000 Russian troops equipped with tanks, armoured vehicles, aircraft and helicopters. (CBC)

March for Life flag taken down at Ottawa City Hall

A controversial flag celebrating a national anti-abortion rally has been taken down from Ottawa City Hall after outcry from city councillors and members of the public. But it wasn’t simply outrage that prompted the flag’s removal. In a letter to Ottawa City Council, city clerk and solicitor Rick O’Connor explained that the flag had been requested by an individual, not a group, which goes against protocol. “This does not meet the criteria and, when this was discovered, the flag was taken down under my authority,” O’Connor wrote. (CTV)

Electricity prices to soar after four years, says secret Liberal cabinet document

The short-term gain of a 25-per-cent hydro rate cut this summer could lead to long-term pain as a leaked cabinet document forecasts prices jumping again in five years. In the briefing materials first revealed by the Star and obtained by the Progressive Conservatives, rates will start rising 6.5 per cent a year in 2022 and top out at 10.5 per cent in 2028, when average monthly bills hit $215. (Toronto Star)

Hamilton mosque arsonist asks for forgiveness; Crown seeks jail term for hate crime

A man who pleaded guilty to trying to burn down a Hamilton mosque has asked the mosque leaders for forgiveness and expressed his sorrow for his actions. Despite the contrition expressed by Keith Frederick, 39, during his sentencing hearing Thursday, Crown attorney Todd Norman argued he should serve more than two years in jail. (CBC)

Halifax man finally gets permanent residency after clerical error in 1969

Thor Henrikson drove home nervously Thursday to check his mailbox for the letter he's waited 10 years to receive.  "I was elated. Absolutely elated," he said of receiving his new permanent resident card. "This will never leave my wallet, except at the border." His birth name was Thorsteinn Thorsteinsson, although he has since changed it to Henrikson. (CBC)

A small number of people are fleeing Canada for the U.S.

In case there was any doubt, barely anybody flees Canada for the U.S. Just 466 asylum seekers — including 55 Canadians — left Canada to apply for refugee status at the U.S. border under exceptions to the Safe Third Country Agreement since 2004. In contrast, the number of asylum seekers fleeing the U.S. for Canada has skyrocketed since President Donald Trump’s election, with hundreds of families making dangerous journeys in the middle of the night to avoid getting caught by law enforcement at the border. (VICE)

Donald Trump says back-to-back trade calls from Canada, Mexico ‘an amazing thing’

U.S. President Donald Trump said “it was an amazing thing” that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called 10 minutes apart and asked almost identical questions late last month after the White House said the president was mulling a withdrawal from NAFTA. “I was going to terminate NAFTA last week, I was all set,” Trump said in an interview with The Economist published Thursday morning. (Global)

KC man detained until trial amidst fears of terrorist ties

A Kansas City man is accused of trying to join a foreign terrorist organization. The Somali-born naturalized U.S. citizen said he was planning on visiting Canada, instead he went to Egypt. Isse Mohamud will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Friday behind bars. Thursday, a judge ruled he’ll be detained without bond until trial on passport fraud charges because he’s too much of a threat and a flight risk. (Fox)

Australian top ISIS recruiter Neil Prakash 'to be extradited'

Australia's most wanted jihadist, Neil Prakash, is likely to be extradited from Turkey within months, PM Malcolm Turnbull has said. Prakash, a senior recruiter for so-called Islamic State, was arrested in Turkey last year and placed in jail. Earlier last year, Australia incorrectly announced that Prakash - who has been linked to foiled terror attacks - had died in a US air strike. (BBC)

Imam accused in Denmark of calling for murder of Jews

Denmark's Jewish community has filed a complaint over an imam accused of calling for the murder of Jews in a case sparking political opprobrium, it emerged Thursday. Imam Mundhir Abdallah preaches in the working class Copenhagen suburb of Norrebro at the Masjid Al-Faruq mosque, which media have previously linked to radical Islam. He stands accused of citing a hadith or koranic narrative on March 31 calling for Muslims to rise up against Jews. (Yahoo)

N.Korea claims sovereign right to ruthlessly punish Americans

North Korea said on Thursday it was its sovereign right to "ruthlessly punish" American citizens it has detained for crimes against its government system, saying U.S. media's description of such arrests as a bargaining ploy was "pure ignorance." The North's KCNA news agency said the crimes of recent Americans detained by its authorities will soon be revealed. Two American citizens affiliated with a private university in the North's capital have been detained in the past month. (Reporting by Jack Kim and Ju-min Park; editing by John Stonestreet) (Reuters)

CIA to focus on North Korean threat with new mission center

The Central Intelligence Agency said on Wednesday that it opened a mission center at an undisclosed location that's sole task is to monitor North Korea. Many of the details about the center are not yet known. It is led by an unnamed CIA veteran, who was tapped as the new assistant director for Korea. The CIA offshoot will work closely with the intelligence and national security community, the agency said. (FOX)

Venezuela’s Economic Crisis Is Taking a Major Toll on Cuba: Refined Oil Exports Down 97 Percent

In addition to a drop in oil prices, the crisis in Venezuela has impacted the export of oil products in Cuba, resulting in millions of dollars in losses for the island. According to the United Nations, Cuban exports of oil derivatives have fallen by approximately 97 percent between 2013 and 2016. In 2013, the export of refined oil products produced US $500 million. But in 2016, the figure fell to $15.4 million. Venezuela supplies these products to Cuba at preferential prices, allowing the island to re-export to other countries and earn significant profits as a result, but that’s changed in recent years. (Panam Post)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Robyn Urback: Listen, for the 18th time, the Liberal government is not transparent

Let's dispel once and for all with this fiction — to borrow a mangled phrase from a dear departed Republican primary candidate — that the Liberal Party has brought transparency to the Canadian government. The Liberal Party has not brought transparency to the Canadian government. We have known this for some time. Justin Trudeau's star cabinet ministers have made fatuous non-answers the unofficial lullaby of most press conferences and question periods. (CBC)

Brian Lilley: Ottawa March for Life rocks it again. Get ready for biased media coverage

Once again the national March for Life, the largest, regular political protest on Parliament Hill, drew tens of thousands of people who marched and walked peacefully despite the protesters trying to shut them down. (Rebel)

Farzana Hassan: Religious tolerance is no excuse for female genital mutilation

It is difficult to imagine that anyone in the twenty-first century would defend the heinous practice of female genital mutilation on public television. Yet on Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight Dr. Fuambai Ahmadu euphemistically labeled FGM “gender egalitarian surgeries” and suggested it is no more devastating than male circumcision. Her comments were sought because of the topical case of three doctors who recently performed illegal FGM procedures on two seven-year-old girls in the United States. (Toronto Sun)

Anthony Furey: Canadians with disabilities face alarmingly high tax rates, new report reveals

A new report reveals that low-income working Canadians with disabilities are facing tax rates of over 100% and advocates say that has to change. The alarming report from the Library of Parliament shows that federal and provincial taxes combined with various benefit clawbacks make many working disabled taxpayers worse off for working longer hours, getting raises or in some cases even working in the first place. (Toronto Sun)

Rana Rahimpour: Iran election: Could women decide the next president?

When Iranians go to the polls to choose a new president next Friday, all the names on the ballot paper will be male. In the nearly four-decade history of the Islamic Republic, no woman has been allowed to stand for the top office. But it's certainly not for want of trying. This year, 137 women put their names forward. Most famous by far is Azam Taleghani, a 72-year old former MP and daughter of a well-known ayatollah. (BBC)

Don Martin: Opposition shadows cloud PM Trudeau's question period

Justin Trudeau hates Question Period. Stephen Harper, no fan of the inquisition either, at least seemed to relish the odd battle of wits and would uncharacteristically grin at his backbench when he gave back better than he got across the aisle. But because this prime minister is fixated on a message track from which no spontaneity can escape, there’s no victory to be had. His only mission is to emerge unscathed. So he loathes it. (CTV)

Tony Battista and Charles Davies: Canada needs to deliver on a fully-funded defence policy

Next week the federal government will likely present its Defence Policy. Many observers will ask the question – how much money will be made available, both in the near-term as well as in the long-term, for the military? To shape the discussion, the Senate’s Standing Committee on National Security and Defence released its second report titled, Reinvesting in the Canadian Armed Forces: A Plan for the Future this week. It proposes to cancel the government’s planned interim purchase of Super Hornet fighter jets in favour of a complete replacement plan, acquire a second supply ship to support the Royal Canadian Navy, acquire attack helicopters as well as a drone fleet, and support the Army to maintain capabilities acquired during the operations in Afghanistan. (Toronto Sun)

Stephen Cornish: Migrants are paying the price of the border crackdown — in blood

In many cases, people are forced to make an impossible decision between remaining at home and trying to survive the brutality of local gangs, or risking their lives by attempting the dangerous journey north. Unfortunately, the violence migrants are likely to encounter along their journeys through Mexico can be equally ruthless. Kidnapping, extortion, rape, assault, torture and murder — these are the threats people repeatedly face along the way. (IPolitics)

Christie Blatchford: Magazine editor the latest to be silenced for the sin of free speech

I have checked my white privilege, which may be balanced somewhat by the fact I’m a woman and thus a member of a group which on paper is chronically oppressed, which may in turn be offset by my relative age and affluence, which may be softened just a smidge (Note: not smudge) by my blue-collar roots and experience, which is almost certainly erased by my status as a cisgendered female, and can we all agree to just stop this nonsense now? (National Post)

Elizabeeth Renzetti: Cultural appropriation: Why can't we debate it?

I’ve written and published one novel, and half-written and abandoned others, always because of my own perceived failure of imagination. As any novelist – or screenwriter or playwright – knows, it’s incredibly difficult to see through the eyes of an invented someone. It only works when you try to write with grace, deference and curiosity. (Globe and Mail)

Toronto Star: Liberals should restore right to citizenship hearing

A federal judge has just given the Trudeau government the kick in the pants it apparently needs to get on with fixing a bad law left over from the Harper era. The law involves changes to Canadian citizenship. One of the most glaring flaws is a measure that allows immigration officials to revoke a person’s citizenship without the possibility of a hearing before an independent decision-maker. This week Federal Court Justice Jocelyne Gagné ruled that those parts of the law violate the constitutional right to a fair hearing. She quashed the citizenship revocations of eight people who challenged the law, and gave the federal government 60 days to fix it. (Toronto Star)

Lillian Eva Dyck, Victor Oh and Yuen Pau Woo: Canada’s sordid history of treating Chinese-Canadians as ‘undesirables’

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, another anniversary must not go overlooked. May 14, 2017 marks 70 years since the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act, the only law in Canadian history to bar a specific ethnic group from coming to Canada. Today, roughly 1.5 million people of Chinese descent live in Canada. Although most arrived over the past two decades, the first significant wave began in the 19th century. Chinese migrants came to Canada during the 1850s for the gold rush in British Columbia’s lower Fraser Valley. Chinese prospectors earned little money because they were prohibited from working in mines until others had moved on from them. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs met yesterday to get a briefing by the Parliamentary Budget Office, Library of Parliament, and Justin Forsyth (Partly in Public)

-       Standing Committee on National Defence met yesterday to continue study on Canada and the Defence of North America (In Camera)

-       Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration met Wednesday to meet with Immigration Consultants (Public)

-       Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security met Wednesday to study Bill C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the US (3:30pm) (Public