True North Initiative: News Scan 05 15 17

TOP STORIES

Liberal election promise about overhauling asylum claims postponed

A Liberal election promise to overhaul the way asylum claims are handled has been postponed indefinitely despite rising numbers of people seeking refuge in Canada putting the system at risk, The Canadian Press has learned. One of the options on the table, multiple sources have told The Canadian Press, is rejigging the historic Immigration and Refugee Board, and giving some of its authority over to the Immigration Department itself. But those advocating for the government to do something before backlogs threaten the integrity of the system say they are running up against a Liberal government seeming to have lost interest in spending any more money or political capital to help asylum seekers. (CTV) (Global)

Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate escapes from Canada's terror list

The Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, currently calling itself Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), has succeeded in getting itself off Canada's list of designated terrorist entities following its latest identity shift. That complicates the task of prosecuting Canadians who travel to join the group, send it money or propagandize on its behalf. It also illustrates the pitfalls of Canada following the lead of the U.S. in designating terror groups. (CBC) (Daily Caller)

Trudeau shrugs off pressure to make decision on Mali peacekeeping mission

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shrugged off calls Friday for a decision on whether to send troops to Mali, saying his government will take the “appropriate” time needed to decide on a peacekeeping mission. Diplomatic sources have expressed growing impatience and frustration with what they call foot-dragging by the government after the Liberals promised last August to make up to 600 troops available for peacekeeping. (National Post) (Toronto Star)

Appearing to retreat on previous claims, Liberals steer toward boost in defence spending

As it prepares to release its new defence policy, the Liberal government is backing away from claims that buying new equipment for the Canadian Forces has largely been successful and using NATO’s two-per-cent standard to measure spending doesn’t make sense. The Liberals and the Defence Department painted the majority of military procurements as a success story in documents prepared last year for its defence review. The records, released through Access to Information and later put online by the department, also point out that NATO’s use of the Gross Domestic Product to measure military expenditures “is a questionable measure of what a nation can achieve with its defence spending.” (Ottawa Citizen)

Sajjan a target of Russian cyber campaign aimed at undermining NATO’s presence in Baltic republics

Russia’s ongoing campaign to undermine NATO’s presence in the former Soviet Baltic republics via propaganda and disinformation included a recent attack on Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan for wearing a turban, according to one of Latvia’s top soldiers. ”That was the talk of the town,” Col. Ilmars Lejins said at a conference here that discussed “NATO in the Disinformation Age.” (National Post)

World View: Canada Receives Record Numbers of Mexican Asylum Seekers After Trudeau’s Welcome Tweet

Mexicans are seeking asylum in Canada at a rate four times greater than in 2016. The first three months of 2017 already saw more cases recorded than in the entire year 2016. One reason for the surge is president Trump’s travel ban, announced in January, which raised concern in refugees that they might be prevented from entering the United States. Instead of trying to cross the border into the US, they get on a plane that takes them to the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada. The second reason is that Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau invited them in. (Breitbart)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

'Day after day without knowing': Federal court to hear landmark challenge on indefinite immigration detention

Lawyers for a man who spent five years in maximum security provincial jails before finally being deported to Jamaica are mounting a constitutional challenge calling on the federal government to justify the practice of indefinite immigration detention. On Monday, the Federal Court of Canada will hear the landmark case — the first-ever such challenge to the regime, according to Jared Will, lawyer for Alvin Brown. (CBC)

Fatal crash: Jinghao Zhou pleads guilty to drunk driving that killed Free Press carrier Gloria Chivers, and to immigration fakery

He was driving three times the speed limit and had three times the legal blood-alcohol level when his SUV slammed into Gloria Chivers' car, killing her instantly. Jinghao Zhou shouldn't even have been in Canada, claiming to be a student while running a business in London. On Friday Zhou, 23, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death and filing false documents and making false statements to immigration officials. (London Free Press)

'Shame on you both': Red Deer couple sentenced for mistreating temporary foreign workers

A couple have been sentenced for exploiting seven temporary foreign workers at an Econo Lodge in Red Deer County. Ravinder Sidhu, 48, received a two-year conditional sentence for using false or misleading information to bring in immigrant workers. Her husband, Varinder, 51, was fined $5,000 for failing to keep proper employment records. In April of 2015, the RCMP Serious Organized Crime unit charged the couple with offences under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, after the workers complained to the province. (CBC)

30 years later, another wave of refugees in Plattsburgh

Fresh off the bus from New York City and carrying next to nothing, the young couple walked slowly and steadily up to the remote Canada-U.S. border. Three RCMP officers were waiting for them. “It is illegal to cross here,” said one of them, somewhat harshly, as they approached the invisible line at Roxham Rd. “You will be arrested.” The young man kept walking, sooner arrested in Canada than deported back to Syria, but when the young woman burst into tears, the officer softened his tone. “We’re not here to beat you up — we’re here to help you,” he told her gently. “You’re safe now. You don’t need to cry.” (Montreal Gazette)

Auditor-General expected to expose RCMP’s mental-health failings

The RCMP is bracing for tough new questions on the way the force treats its members across the country, this time in relation to the handling of mental-health issues by Mounties who are struggling to deal with stressful and traumatic incidents, sources say. The Auditor-General of Canada will release a report on the RCMP’s mental-health strategy on Tuesday. According to officials who are aware of its contents, the report paints a largely negative picture of the services provided to Mounties over the years, which stands to further darken the force’s reputation in the eyes of the public. (Globe and Mail)

RCMP braces for rough week as calls for a shakeup mount

A radical idea is being floated — or more precisely, revived — as a way for the RCMP and its political masters to grapple with all that ails the force. The looming departure of Commissioner Bob Paulson has prompted some rank-and-file Mounties to call for a joint management approach to running the RCMP instead of the top-down hierarchical system some believe has left it unable to adapt to modern workplace expectations and norms. (Toronto Star)

Senator Colin Kenny faces review by Senate ethics officer

The Senate's ethics officer has launched a preliminary review of Senator Colin Kenny and his use of parliamentary resources for personal tasks, CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada has learned. The move comes three-and-a-half years after the first revelations about unusual tasks performed by Kenny's Senate staff. (CBC)

Canada to remain ‘firm’ as Donald Trump eyes massive NAFTA changes

Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says Canada will remain “firm” as U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to begin a major renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Champagne told The West Block’s Vassy Kapelos that the federal government is “very well prepared” for whatever Trump and his newly appointed trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, put on the table in terms of trade talks. (Global)

Jonathan Kay resigns as editor of The Walrus amid ‘appropriation prize’ backlash

Jonathan Kay has resigned as editor-in-chief of The Walrus, amid a highly charged controversy over an idea to create a so-called “appropriation prize” that has triggered intense backlash on social media and exposed deep divides within the Canadian arts and journalism communities. In an email, Kay said he “was definitely not asked to file a resignation.” He said he chose to step down on Saturday night because he “frequently butted heads” with his boss and “got tired of the internal battles.” (Toronto Star)

'Comey has no supporters': Conrad Black defends Trump after topsy-turvy week

U.S. President Donald Trump’s 17th week in the White House may have been his most unpredictable yet. Tuesday: The president fired FBI director James Comey amid an FBI investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties with Russia’s interference in the U.S. election. Wednesday: Three U.S. officials said Comey had requested more resources for the Russia-Trump investigation before he was fired. (CTV)

Refugees from Central America a humanitarian crisis on Canada's doorstep, says aid agency

Doctors Without Borders says the Liberal government must do something about the humanitarian crisis on its doorstep by making asylum easier for refugees fleeing the northern triangle of Central America. The aid group says an estimated 500,000 people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala flee into Mexico every year from the three violence-plagued countries, where rates of murder, kidnapping and sexual violence are comparable to those in full-blown war zones. (CBC)

Group who helped Edward Snowden 'denied Hong Kong asylum'

Hong Kong has rejected the asylum claims of a group who helped shelter US whistleblower Edward Snowden, their lawyers say. The asylum-seekers, from Sri Lanka and the Philippines, housed Mr Snowden for two weeks when he fled the US after leaking thousands of files. Their cases were rejected because their countries were deemed safe, one lawyer said, calling the move "unreasonable". (BBC)

China's Xi calls for greater counter-terrorism cooperation with Turkey

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan that the two should deepen counter-terrorism cooperation, amid Chinese concern about ethnic Uighurs from its Xinjiang region fighting with militants in the Middle East. Uighurs are a largely Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority from China's western Xinjiang region. (Reuters)

Trump considering numerous candidates for FBI director

President Donald Trump is considering more than a dozen candidates to succeed ousted FBI Director James Comey, choosing from a group that includes several lawmakers, attorneys and law enforcement officials. White House officials said Friday the president was moving expeditiously to find an interim FBI director along with a permanent replacement for Comey, who was fired Tuesday. (Washington Times)

Cyber-attacks from WannaCry ransomware slow but fears remain

A computer malware that has spread across 150 countries appears to be slowing down, with few reports of fresh attacks in Asia and Europe on Monday. However staff beginning the working week have been told to be careful. The WannaCry ransomware started taking over users' files on Friday, demanding $300 (£230) to restore access. (BBC)

North Korea missile test was 'new type of ballistic rocket'

North Korea has claimed that the missile it tested on Sunday was a new type of rocket capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead. The missile, launched at a steep angle, reached an altitude of 2,000km (1,242 miles) and travelled about 700km, landing in the sea west of Japan. North Korea said on Monday it was a test of the abilities of a "newly developed ballistic rocket". (BBC)

Venezuela’s government wants to write a new constitution. That way lies autocracy.

Facing escalating civil unrest, the government of Venezuela has finally come up with a response: a call for a constituent assembly. For President Nicolás Maduro, this is the way to restore peace. Most likely, it will produce the opposite: more unrest. A constituent assembly is the name given to a body of individuals charged with drafting a new constitution. The key question is: What kind of constitutions do these assemblies produce? (Washington Post)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Candice Malcolm: Activist judge puts stop to citizenship revocation

An unelected judge has made a ruling that will significantly weaken the value of Canadian citizenship. The landmark decision delivered by the Federal Court this week drastically restricts the government’s ability to revoke citizenship from people who gained it through fraud or misrepresentation. The previous Conservative government introduced a streamlined process for stripping citizenship from fraudsters, liars and terrorists. Canada has long revoked citizenship from those who become Canadians on false pretenses – a policy that even Justin Trudeau defended in 2015. (Toronto Sun)

Ezra Levant: Trudeau buys Broadway tickets for international tyrants

Canadian taxpayers were forced to foot the bill for the Liberals to wine and dine the murderous regimes of Venezuela, China, Cuba, Burma, Islamist states, and members of the OPEC cartel. (Rebel)

Anthony Furey: Camille Paglia, my kind of feminist

One day in high school, the teacher asked everyone in class to raise a hand if they identified as a feminist.  Two hands went up. Mine and another guy’s. Everyone laughed. Hard. They thought it was pretty ridiculous. And this was a class that was at least half women. The teacher then turned to a group of girls. “Why did you laugh?” she asked. “What do you think it means to be a feminist?” (Toronto Sun)

Steven Zhou: Oversight of national security in Canada still needs a lot of work, new reports show

Recent reports of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service using IMSI catchers, or Stingrays — which mimic cellphone towers to intercept signals — without obtaining warrants are yet another sign that Canadian intelligence agencies often pursue their ends without regard for the law. Given the use of Stingrays, along with CSIS's recently exposed (and illegal) practice of retaining large amounts of Canadian metadata, it should be clear that Canada's capacity for holding our intelligence agencies accountable should be increased. And two recent reports show that there's still a lot of work to be done on oversight of national security in Canada. (CBC)

Michael Petrou: What does Canada get out of restoring diplomatic ties with Iran?

It's been almost two years since Iran began to emerge from its international isolation after signing a deal with world powers to ensure its nuclear program is "peaceful." It's been almost as long since Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister on a platform that included restoring diplomatic ties with the country. Last week, we learned Canadian officials are in Tehran for the first time since the previous Conservative government broke off relations with Iran nearly five years ago. (CBC)

Lilian Tintori: Canada can help save Venezuela’s democracy

Since April 4, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the street to peacefully advocate for change. President Nicolas Maduro’s government has responded to the exercising of our constitutional rights by dropping tear gas from helicopters, sending military and armed gangs to shoot at crowds and arresting more than 1,900 of us. The violent response of the regime has left at least 37 protesters dead – one of them only 14 years old – but we remain undeterred. Our demands are as clear as they are compelling: the unconditional release of all political prisoners; the holding of general elections; the opening of a United Nations-run humanitarian effort; and a full restoration of the rights of governance for our National Assembly, which has been substantially stripped of its powers by Mr. Maduro’s Supreme Court. (Globe and Mail)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration meet later today to meet with Immigration Consultants and continue study on 2011 LGBTQ Refugee Pilot Project (3:30pm EST) (Public)

-       Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security meet later today to study Bill C-23, An Act representing the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the US (3:30pm EST) (Public)