True North Initiative: News Scan 05 17 17

TOP STORIES

Border guards broke rules, says auditor general

Canada's border guards shared passwords and allowed hundreds of thousands of people into Canada without fully vetting them, breaking the rules, Canada's auditor general Michael Ferguson has found. The startling findings were part of an audit of the Canada Border Services Agency released Tuesday by Ferguson's office, which focused on whether immigration and border services had a handle on procedures to ensure staff aren't corrupted. (National Observer)

Lengthy immigration detention needed to ensure public safety, federal lawyers argue

Facing a constitutional challenge and widespread criticism from humanitarian organizations, government lawyers defended Canada’s immigration detention system in Federal Court on Tuesday, saying indefinite detention is necessary to ensure public safety. “The notion of indefinite detention is a construct,” said C. Julian Jubenville, one of the government’s lawyers, who added that even when a detention has been long and its end is unclear, continuing to hold the detainee could still be justified in order to protect the public. “There is a purpose to detention that involves public safety,” he said. (Toronto Star)

Reality check: Are Canada’s border and immigration controls too lax?

If you’re crossing into Canada by car, there’s a chance you — and your vehicle — won’t be properly screened as you pass a border checkpoint. The supervisor monitoring the checkpoint may not have been trained to detect possible corruption or rule-breaking by the guard who waves you through, and probably hasn’t been watching that guard very closely over the past few shifts. And the guard himself may have shared his computer login information with another border officer, making it harder to track which one of them actually dealt with you as you entered the country. (Global News)

Canada's training plan for UN troops will be a departure from classic peacekeeping

A major component of the Liberal government's plan to return Canada to peacekeeping involves using Canadian soldiers to train and mentor other, less experienced United Nations forces, say defence and government sources. The strategy, which would possibly be employed in some of the most dangerous parts of Africa, is a departure from traditional peacekeeping, which is popular in the public imagination. (CBC)

AG finds oversight, enforcement problems of TFW program

Canada's temporary foreign workers program is rife with oversight problems that appear to have allowed lower-paid international workers to take jobs that out-of-work Canadians could fill, the federal auditor general says. Michael Ferguson's examination of the controversial program, part of a battery of spring audits tabled Tuesday, details a litany of problems. Employers hired temporary foreign workers without first proving they had exhausted all options with the domestic workforce, Ferguson found. At times, requests for temporary help were approved for head-scratching reasons that officials didn't challenge. (CTV) (Toronto Star)

Canadian initiative seeks to reform ‘dysfunctional’ refugee system

Canadians have launched the World Refugee Council, a body of global leaders and thinkers that will look for new ways to manage the world’s refugee crisis. The chair of the council is a former Canadian foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy. He says the United Nations is so busy dealing with the practicalities of helping refugees that it does not have the time to think about how to reform what has become a “dysfunctional” refugee system. (Radio Canada)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Canada's indefinite immigration detention challenged in court

Canada's immigration regime allows for indefinite and arbitrary detention that can cause severe psychological distress and is therefore unconstitutional, Federal Court heard Monday. What's needed is a robust process and legal limit on how long foreigners can be held when speedy deportation is unlikely, court was told by lawyers for a Jamaican man who spent five years in custody. (National Observer)

Immigrant detention system not flawless but legal, government lawyer says

A government lawyer says Canada's immigration-detention system may not be perfect but it is constitutional. He is telling Federal Court it would be a mistake to throw out the law allowing for immigrant detention because problems may occur as a result. A Jamaican man who was detained for five years before being deported is challenging the constitutionality of immigration laws. (CBC)

'Canadian Kardashians' received emergency travel documents to escape from Nigeria

The two Canadian sisters in Nigeria were in a situation of "extreme urgency," according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. And that's why the High Commission of Canada in Lagos issued emergency travel documents for the sisters, who had made international headlines after allegedly attempting to blackmail one of the world's richest men. (CBC)

Liberals briefing select allies on long-awaited defence policy overhaul

The Liberal government has been providing select allies with what officials say is a broad overview of its long-awaited defence policy update, even as Canadians wait for the specifics.  Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan revealed Monday that the government would release the policy update to Canadians on June 7 — after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets fellow NATO leaders next week. But The Canadian Press has learned that Sajjan briefed counterparts from Britain, Australia and New Zealand last week on what officials described as a general overview of the policy's direction. (Times Colonist)

Canada has a 30% chance of a housing ‘bust’ as the third riskiest market in G10, Goldman warns

The Swedish and New Zealand housing markets are the most at risk of a correction among the so-called G-10 economies, according to Goldman Sachs, but Canada isn’t far behind. In a report on house prices in G-10 nations — those with the 10 most-traded currencies in the world — Goldman finds they are most elevated in small, open economies such as Sweden and New Zealand. The investment bank said there is a 35-40 per cent chance of a housing “bust” in each country over the next two years, which it defines as house prices falling five per cent or more after adjustment for inflation. (Financial Post)

Justin Trudeau to pitch Canada’s tech sector at Microsoft CEO Summit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to pitch major multinational companies on investing in Canada’s technology sector on Wednesday, joining top business leaders inside the closed-door Microsoft CEO Summit in Redmond, Wash. Trudeau’s visit comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration poses both challenges and opportunities for Canada’s high-tech industry. Trump’s “America First” rhetoric and his plans to slash corporate taxes could mean more investment flows south of the border, but his restrictive approach to immigration could draw talent north, experts say. (Global)

Tax adviser to revenue minister attended KPMG-sponsored Madrid conference, parties

A Liberal government appointee named to crack down on offshore tax avoidance in the wake of the KPMG scandal attended a Madrid conference and social events where the embattled accounting firm was a top financial sponsor, a Fifth Estate/Enquête investigation has found. (CBC)

Auditor general questions Canada's plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies

Canada's federal spending watchdog has won a battle with the Liberal government to gain access to information he deemed critical to evaluating whether the country is on course to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. Releasing a series of spring audits Tuesday, Auditor General Michael Ferguson expressed frustration that he wasn't able to gain key documents, including budget analyses, from Finance Canada to determine what progress has been made to meet Canada's 2009 G20 commitment. (CBC)

Senate changes definition of a 'caucus,' ending Liberal, Conservative duopoly

The Senate has just voted for a major shake-up of how members of the Red Chamber align themselves by allowing nine or more members to form a caucus, a substantial break from tradition that has historically seen the place organized along party lines. (CBC)

New passenger bill of rights spells out compensation for air travellers

Airlines won't be allowed to bump passengers from a flight against their will under a new passenger bill of rights introduced Tuesday by Transportation Minister Marc Garneau. That change is part of a package of amendments to the Canada Transportation Act which also introduces new foreign ownership limits for airlines, requires railways to install voice and video recorders in locomotives and improves transparency and efficiency in the freight rail industry. (CBC)

Laptop ban may be expanded to flights from Europe

The United States may broaden its ban on in-flight laptops and large electronics to cover some flights from European countries, a move that highlights the growing concern over the increased sophistication of terrorist bombmakers. DHS Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke is expected to fly to Brussels Wednesday to hammer out the details of a potential laptop ban with European Union officials. The meeting followed a call on Friday in which Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and several EU commissioners discussed the matter, a European Commission spokesman said. (Chicago Tribune)

Inside the US effort to keep laptop bomb intel secret

The intelligence behind the US ban on laptops and other electronics is considered so highly classified that CNN, at the request of US government officials, withheld key details from a March 31 story on the travel restrictions. Some of those details are once again at issue following The Washington Post report Monday night that President Donald Trump shared highly sensitive information with two top Russian diplomats in a meeting at the White House. (CNN)

Trump engulfed by new crisis over sharing classified information

U.S. President Donald Trump defended his conduct after sharing highly sensitive intelligence in a recent meeting with Russian officials, saying it was his “absolute right” to discuss certain details in the context of combatting terrorism. Mr. Trump revealed classified information obtained from a U.S. ally on a terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State, potentially jeopardizing the source of the intelligence, according to The Washington Post. (Globe and Mail)

Trump's actions pose questions about future of Canada-U.S. intelligence sharing: experts

When Donald Trump spills secrets, people in intelligence agencies get nervous. Not just within his own country’s agencies, but also within allied ones – such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service – where officials rely on freely swapping information with the much larger American apparatus. (Globe and Mail)

Shocking new satellite photos show North Korea’s nuclear missiles are MORE powerful than world feared and could soon hit the US

SATELLITE images of Kim Jong-un’s main missile test site reveal North Korea’s weapons are far more powerful than first thought. Fears are mounting that Kim could soon have long-range weapons capable of reaching Alaska and Hawaii after the photos showed increasingly large scorch marks from missiles. (The Sun.co.uk)

VENEZUELA DEATH TOLL RISES TO 42 AS ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS RAGE

The death toll in Venezuela's six-week wave of anti-government unrest has risen to at least 42, according to the state prosecutor's office, which announced three deaths Tuesday. A policeman was arrested for his alleged role in the killing of a 33-year-old taxi driver, shot in the thorax, in the border state of Tachira. A 17-year-old who was shot in the head during a protest in the central state of Barinas Monday and died Tuesday morning. (Newsweek)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

John Ivison: Rona Ambrose gave the Conservatives a performance to be proud of

Rona Ambrose was the right person to lead the Conservative Party, at the right time. The words are those of Larry Miller, the veteran Ontario MP known to his colleagues as The Keeper of the Flame, the straight-shooting voice of principle in caucus. But he says the feeling inside the party is unanimous. “There is zero dissent or negativity. We needed a makeover and she did it in spades. She brought a new face to our party,” said Miller. (National Post)

Jack Diamond: It’s beyond time to change the way we fund Canada’s cities

Toronto has the potential to be the most successful urban region in North America. Despite the high cost of housing in Toronto, the area attracts upward of 80,000 immigrants a year; it benefits from the political stability and civility of Canada; has a well-educated population with excellent educational institutions; its economy, which is severely constrained by transit under-investment, is nonetheless buoyant; and it accommodates and benefits from population diversity. (Globe and Mail)

Tim Harper: Singh brings some style to a rumpled NDP

Does the road to federal political success in this country run through the pages of GQ? It probably shouldn’t. But Justin Trudeau certainly understands the value of the glossy magazine spread and Jagmeet Singh also knows precisely how style can provide a foundation for policy and political prose. And if you are a New Democrat intent on getting back into the ring after being dealt a knockout blow in 2015, you should probably take a moment from your search for the earnest party stalwart and take a look at the path being followed by Singh, who wants to usher in a new era for your bruised party. (Toronto Star)

John Baird: The noble work of the Aga Khan should not be tarnished by this Canadian political scandal

His Highness the Aga Khan is a remarkable human being and a force for pluralism in a world besieged by tyranny. At 80 years of age, he is now the longest living spiritual leader in the Islamic world, and a jewel for Canada as our own honourary citizen. His statesmanship has shaped the course of history — in the midst of the Cold War, he bridged Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva in his relentless pursuit for peace. A lot of attention and media has recently been concentrated on the Aga Khan. Let me tell you about the Aga Khan I have come to know, who I have come to deeply respect and admire, and who continues to be a powerful and irreplaceable force for good in a dangerous world. (National Post)

Joe Oliver: Canada’s elections are already being infiltrated by foreign interests and, shockingly, it’s all legal

Do you think that Canadian voters should be influenced by the Russian government? Or a foreign corporation? Or the NRA? Neither does the Communications Security Establishment, which is reviewing the vulnerability of Canada’s 2019 election to foreign influence through information hacking. Our elections should be decided by Canadians and not bought by foreigners, a principle integral to the inviolability of our democracy. Yet that principle is not legally protected. In fact, it was repeatedly violated during the 2015 election. (Financial Post)

Tarek Fatah: Don’t get fooled again, America

Donald Trump has been U.S. president for a little over 100 days, but there hasn’t been a week where he’s found respite from his critics, who are already whispering “impeachment”. The latest “scandal” heaped on Trump is the Washington Post claim he leaked highly classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about Islamic State (ISIS). The only other American officials in that meeting, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster and his deputy, Dina Powell, have publicly denounced the Post story, entirely based on anonymous sources, as “false”. (Toronto Sun)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       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 (Public) (3:30PM EST)

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

-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met yesterday to study Canada’s Development Finance Initiative (Public