True North Initiative: News Scan 05 19 17

TOP STORIES

Border agency seeks additional $200 million to help with immigration, border security

Canada Border Services Agency is asking for an extra $218 million this year, bringing its total purse to just under $2 billion, as the department grapples with unpredictable and fluctuating levels of asylum seekers and meeting the government’s immigration targets. If Parliament approves the requested spending, the CBSA’s budget will have increased slightly more than 10 per cent in the three years since 2015-16, according to federal documents including spending estimates, department plans and public accounts. (Global)

Alberta MP slams Trudeau government for motive behind plan to move Vegreville immigration centre

The firestorm of controversy surrounding the federal Liberal government’s plan to move an immigration processing centre from Vegreville to Edmonton had more fuel dumped on it Thursday. Shannon Stubbs, the Conservative MP who represents the riding set to lose the centre, launched an attack on the Trudeau government over the issue in Question Period. (Global News)

Hard to identify crowdfunding platforms financing terrorism

Canada’s money-laundering watchdog is studying the use of crowdfunding platforms by suspected terrorists and says in an internal study that the reporting protocol poses a “significant challenge” in trying to identify such transactions. The Fintrac report, obtained by The Canadian Press through an Access to Information request, says there is a lack of information available in electronic fund transfer reports on contributors to crowdfunding campaigns. (Toronto Star)

Russia warns Canada Magnitsky sanctions would be blow to relations

Russia is warning Canada the adoption of a Magnitsky-style law would result in a significant blow to bilateral relations, while a prominent Russian dissident commends Ottawa’s decision to support sanctions against human-rights abusers worldwide. In a statement published Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned an announcement by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland expressing support for a Senate bill that would establish sanctions against human-rights violators in Russia and around the world, calling it an “unfriendly act.” Canada follows in the footsteps of the United States and Britain, which have adopted their own versions of the Magnitsky Act, a law targeting human-rights abusers by freezing their assets and denying them visas. (Globe and Mail)

Ukraine seeks weapons from Ottawa to help fend off Russia-backed rebels

A top Ukrainian politician visited Ottawa Thursday to renew a request for defensive weapons to fend off Russia-backed rebels and ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government for help shoring up support for Kiev both within the Trump administration and among other Group of Seven countries. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, 43, resigned as Ukraine’s prime minister last year after coming under fire for a lack of economic growth and slow pace of reforms there. But he remains the leader of the second biggest faction in Ukraine’s parliament and is considered a potential successor to President Petro Poroshenko. (Globe and Mail)

It’s not a carbon tax, it’s a ‘behaviour-changing measure’: government officials

The Liberal government today released the carbon-pricing scheme it will impose on any province or territory that, by spring 2018, doesn’t have its own comparable scheme in place. As of today, 97 per cent of Canadians live in provinces that either already have a price on carbon pollution, or are planning and working toward it, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Thursday. (Global News)

U.S. military says it conducted airstrike on pro-government forces in Syria

U.S. warplanes conducted airstrikes on forces believed to be loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in southern Syria on Thursday as a protection measure for U.S. forces based in the region, U.S. officials said. The airstrikes, in the southern town of Tanf, mark the first time that the U.S. military deliberately hit the regime out of a perceived threat for American troops, which have steadily increased in numbers in recent months throughout Syria. (LA Times)

Iran election: Voters go to the polls to pick president

Iranians are voting an a presidential election, in which Hassan Rouhani is seeking a second term. Mr Rouhani, 68, a moderate cleric who negotiated a landmark nuclear deal with world powers in 2015, is standing against three other candidates. His main challenger is seen as Ebrahim Raisi, 56, a hardline cleric and former prosecutor who is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene (BBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

UN appeals for help for ‘Children on the Run’ from Central America

With the number of unaccompanied and separated children fleeing gang violence in Central America doubling every year since 2011, the United Nations is launching a campaign to address the “urgent yet silent crisis.” The UN Refugee Agency will kick off the “Children on the Run” campaign in North America on Friday to raise $18 million to assist the young refugees fleeing the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) countries — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. (Toronto Star)

A Canadian border-crosser who lost his fingers to frostbite gets refugee status

One of two Ghanaian asylum seekers who lost their fingers to frostbite after walking for 10 hours to cross the US-Canada border has learned he’ll be able to stay in Canada. “Good news, I won my case and I have been accepted to stay in Canada am soo excited,” Seidu Mohammed told CBC. The 24-year-old crossed the border on Christmas Eve with 35-year-old Razak Iyal, who he’d met at a bus station in Grand Forks, North Dakota. (VICE)

Trudeau talks tech at top studio in B.C. after meeting with Washington governor

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demonstrated a new virtual camera used by game makers at an Electronic Arts Canada studio near Vancouver on Thursday after promoting the country's technology sector to officials in Washington state. Trudeau held the camera on his shoulder as two actors wearing special suits pretended to box at the company's Capture Lab, an animation facility in Burnaby. The prime minister also attended a roundtable at Electronic Arts with business leaders from health care, clean technology, digital animation and visual effects. (CTV)

Trudeau continues B.C. tour with fundraiser

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued his tour of British Columbia with a fundraiser Thursday at a sold out event in downtown Vancouver's Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.  Trudeau applauded local members for signing up 7,000 newcomers since last summer. (CBC)

Outgoing CPC interim leader Rona Ambrose says she won't vote for her replacement

Rona Ambrose took on the job of interim Conservative leader with the goal of identifying and developing the party's future leaders -- but apparently, that doesn't include voting for one. Ambrose is not taking part in the voting, which has been underway by mail for weeks and will culminate May 27 when the party gathers in Toronto to announce the winner. (CP 24)

Tory Senate leader defends ousting senator from caucus over dinner with Trudeau

The Tories’ Senate leader says Conservatives’ decisions in the upper house — including the ousting of Sen. Stephen Greene from caucus this week — are based on staying accountable to the six million people who voted for the party in the last federal election. The growing contingent of independent senators appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are accountable to no one at all, Sen. Larry Smith argued in an interview with the National Post Thursday. “The Conservatives represent six million voters. Who do the independents represent? Zero.” (National Post)

Alberta Progressive Conservatives, Wildrose strike merger deal

Alberta’s two conservative parties have taken the first step toward ending a decade of bitter feuding by signing a proposal to merge and become the United Conservative Party. Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney announced the details of their unity deal Thursday at an Edmonton hotel. The deal still has to be approved by 75 per cent of Wildrose members and just over 50 per cent of PC members. If it goes ahead, the new party will set up a leadership committee with an eye to electing a new leader on Oct. 28. (Toronto Star)

Kenney says he'd work with Wall to sue feds over carbon tax

Right after announcing the potential merger of Alberta’s Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties, Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney took aim at Ottawa, saying that he would be willing to sue the federal government if it tries to impose a carbon tax on his oil-rich province. “If I’m leading a Conservative government, bill number one of our first term of the legislature in the summer of 2019 would be the Carbon Tax Repeal Act,” the former federal Conservative cabinet minister told CTV Power Play on Thursday. (CTV)

Canadian winery owners face closed trial in China

Charges of smuggling against a Canadian winery owner who has been locked up in a Chinese jail for more than a year are trumped up, his lawyers say, accusing China of criminalizing a customs dispute, one that could have far-reaching consequences for an eventual bilateral free-trade deal. John Chang, who owns wineries in British Columbia and Ontario, will face a closed-door trial at the Shanghai High People’s Court next Friday, as will his wife, Allison Lu. Ms. Lu was released from jail in January, but is barred from leaving China and must report regularly to Chinese authorities. The couple’s Canadian passports have been seized (Globe and Mail)

New York crash: 18-year-old woman killed and 22 injured as car 'intentionally' ploughs into pedestrians in Times Square

A teenager has been killed after a former US naval officer allegedly ploughed his car into pedestrians on a pavement in New York City's Times Square. A further 22 people are thought to have been injured in the incident, which happened at the Midtown Manhattan tourist site on Thursday lunchtime. (Standard.co.uk)

Immigration arrests surge 40% under Trump

US arrests of suspected illegal immigrants rose by 38% in the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency, according to government data. Detentions by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency jumped to 41,318 between 22 January 2017 and the end of April (BBC)

Man freed from prison faces possible deportation to Cuba

The detention of a Cuban immigrant set to rejoin his family after he was mistakenly released from prison, then put back, has raised questions about whether more people from the island nation will be deported from the United States now that relations between the two countries have thawed. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement took custody of Rene Lima-Marin, 38, Wednesday after a judge ordered him to be released from state prison in an armed robbery case. (Yahoo)

Chinese jets intercept US aircraft over East China Sea, US says

Two Chinese Sukhoi Su-30 jets have conducted an "unprofessional" intercept of a US aircraft, the US military said. One of the Chinese jets came as close as 150ft (45m) to the US WC-135 plane and flew upside down above it, according to US officials cited by CNN. The US says the plane was on a mission to detect radiation in international airspace over the East China Sea. (BBC)

Robert Spencer Poisoned After Giving Anti-Jihad Speech in Iceland

After I spoke last Thursday in the beautiful nation of Iceland, a Leftist in Reykjavik poisoned me. Perhaps I should have seen it coming. The international Left has rejected free speech, and has embraced violence as a suitable response to speech contradicting its narrative. (PJ Media)

Syria condemns US-led attack on pro-Assad forces

Syria has condemned air strikes by the US-led coalition on pro-Syrian government forces near the Jordan border. Syria said the strikes killed "a number" of people, destroyed some "material" and were a "blatant attack on forces fighting terrorism". (BBC)

ISIS Video Shows New Weapons, ‘American’ Urging Attacks in U.S.

ISIS has released a new video featuring a purportedly American fighter calling for attacks in the U.S. and footage of new weapons the terrorists have built, including drones and rovers, analysts said. Using the handle Abu Hamza al-Amriki, the bearded man appears with his face uncovered and urges lone-wolf attacks to avenge U.S. military action in slightly accented English, according to security firm Flashpoint. (NBC)

In secret recording, Venezuelan general pushes for snipers to control demonstrators

Claiming to be primed for civil war, a Venezuelan general issued orders to prepare for the future use of snipers against anti-government protesters, according to a secret recording of a regional command meeting held three weeks ago at a military base in the northwestern Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto. (Miami Herald)

U.S. Sanctions Venezuela's Supreme Court

The Trump administration has sanctioned eight members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, including the court’s president, Maikel Moreno, the U.S. Treasury Department announced late Thursday night. U.S. officials said the sanctions were a direct response to an incident in March in which the Supreme Court annulled the nation’s democratically elected National Assembly, which is controlled by Venezuela’s opposition party. At the time, the Supreme Court, which remains loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, justified the takeover by claiming that the National Assembly was in contempt of its rulings. The court ultimately sought to authorize Maduro’s oil joint ventures by bypassing congressional approval. (Atlantic)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Faith Goldy: Along the Front Line of Trudeau’s Open Border Crisis

Tonight, I'm on the ground in Emerson, Manitoba, the border town at the front line of Canada's illegal migrant crisis.  Since January, already hundreds (and possibly thousands) of fake refugees have illegally walked across Canada's southern border with the United States. What's it like to be woken up in the middle of the night with migrants knocking at your door? (Rebel)

Lorrie Goldstein: Don't be duped by Trudeau's carbon pricing plan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon pricing plan released Thursday by Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna is a political fraud. It will not achieve the government’s promised industrial greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2020 or 2030. It will increase the cost of living for Canadians, adding hundreds of dollars to their annual household bills, year after year. (Toronto Sun)

Michael Harris: Trudeau has abandoned the cause of peace in the Middle East

Once again — in a way that almost no one will notice or care about — Justin Trudeau has failed an important leadership test. And no, I don’t mean his government’s perplexing and inexcusable failure to intervene on behalf of Canadian citizen Dr. Hassan Diab. Dr. Diab was locked up in a French jail for two years with scant evidence suggesting he is guilty of anything. He remains enmeshed in the French legal system. (IPolitics)

Don Martin: Trudeau government stacking up Alberta snubs

My lingering Albertan DNA has me wincing a lot lately. There’s been a sudden spike in the number of threats and slights against Canada’s hefty-horsepower economic engine. It started when the government’s Edmonton cabinet minister announced that all that Calgary lobbying was in vain and Cowtown would not be the location for the $33-billion infrastructure bank. That perk would go to Toronto, seemingly without much arm-twisting of the Toronto-elected finance minister. (CTV)

Sam Khanlari: With so much on the line, why deny Iranian-Canadians a chance to vote in the upcoming election?

On Friday, Iranians will head to the polls and likely either re-elect incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, or turn to his main rival, Ebrahim Raisi to form a new government. A number of Iranians residing outside the country — including nationals in the United States and Europe — will participate using extraterritorial polling booths. But one place they won't be voting from? Canada. (CBC)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       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 the United States and Canadian Foreign Policy (Public