True North Initiative: News Scan 06 19 17

TOP STORIES

Declining number of asylum seekers surprises reeve of Manitoba border town

The reeve of the Manitoba town that's been the backdoor to Canada for asylum seekers entering Canada from the U.S. wonders if the recent discovery of the body of a Ghanaian woman has scared refugee claimants from making the trek across the border. The total number of border crossers caught by the RCMP now sits at 583 as of Friday, but the figure doesn't include asylum seekers who weren't processed by Mounties and were able to get into Winnipeg without getting taken into custody. (CBC)

Internal documents detail UN peacekeeping requests for Mali, other hotspots

The United Nations has presented Canada with a long list of peacekeeping requests that not only include fronting a dangerous mission in Mali, but separate military and police training deployments, including one in the volatile Central African Republic. The list, obtained by CBC News under access to information legislation, paints the clearest picture yet of the expectations of the international community following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's declaration that "Canada is back" on the world stage. (CBC)

Parliamentary committee recommends scrapping immigration consulting regulator

Concerned about the prevalence of unlicensed immigration consultants and what MPs say is the industry's inability to self-regulate, a parliamentary committee is recommending Ottawa scrap the existing regulatory body and take over the policing of the profession. Paid immigration and refugee consulting should be restricted to lawyers in good standing with provincial law societies and consultants registered with the federal government, said the immigration committee in a 60-page report released Friday. (Toronto Star) (IPolitics) (CBC)

U.S. shoots down Syrian aircraft for first time: Pentagon

The U.S. military on Sunday shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet that bombed local forces aligned with the Americans in the fight against Islamic State militants, an action that appeared to mark a new escalation of the conflict. The U.S. had not shot down a Syrian regime aircraft before Sunday's confrontation, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. While the U.S. has said since it began recruiting, training and advising what it calls moderate Syrian opposition forces to fight IS that it would protect them from potential Syrian government retribution, this was the first time it resorted to engaging in air-to-air combat to make good on that promise. (CTV)

New mission against ISIS won't include sending troops to Syria: Sajjan

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is ruling out the deployment of Canadian troops into Syria as part of its new mission against ISIS. Canada's current mission against the extremist group is set to expire at the end of the month, after being extended in March for an extra three months. (CBC)

Canada may lead regional effort to address Venezuelan crisis: sources

Canada could lead a regional effort to address the crisis in Venezuela, according to sources with knowledge of the diplomatic efforts in the South American country. Earlier this week, Peru’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna publicly floated the idea of Justin Trudeau acting as a mediator for the Venezuelan crisis, citing the Prime Minister’s “global power role,” according to reports out of the country. The proposal comes after Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski recommended an international arbitration process to preserve democracy and avoid a “bloodbath” and refugee crisis in Venezuela. (Globe and Mail)

London anti-terror team investigating after van strikes pedestrians

London police say counterterrorism officers are investigating after a vehicle struck pedestrians near a mosque in north London early Monday morning. Police said the 48-year-old man who was driving the van has been arrested and taken to a hospital as a precaution. He will be given a mental health evaluation. (CBC)

Canada's spy agency expects cyberattacks during 2019 federal election

Canada's electronic spy agency issued a stark warning Friday that online attempts to influence or undermine the country's electoral process are on the increase — and steps must be taken to counter the efforts. The assessment is contained in a new report released by the Communications Security Establishment that comes amid questions about Russia's role in the last U.S. presidential election. (CBC)

Justin Trudeau refuses to set date for balancing the budget

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not tell Canadians when – or even if – he will bring Canada’s books back to the black. Given several opportunities in a one-on-one interview, Trudeau chose to justify the Liberal government’s spending rather than say whether he has a plan to eliminate Canada’s growing deficit. (Global)

UN refugee agency: Record 65.6 million people displaced worldwide

A record 65.6 million people are either refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced across the globe, the UN refugee agency said. The estimated figure for the end of 2016 is an increase of 300,000 on 2015, according to its annual report. It is a smaller increase than 2014-15, when the figure rose by five million. (BBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Syrian woman stuck in limbo after crossing illegally into Quebec calls for change

Zain Alabdullah, who fled Syria and crossed into Quebec two months ago, is calling on the Canadian government to open it's borders and give status to asylum seekers. Speaking in Arabic, Alabdullah told CBC she left her home in Aleppo, where she'd been held as a political detainee, and went first to the United States. (CBC)

Undercover investigation unmasks cash-for-jobs Chinese immigration scheme

In his 30 years as an immigration expert, Richard Kurland said he's only ever heard rumours of people paying money for job offers to foreign nationals. "It's almost the stuff of immigration legendary myth that there are envelopes of cash being passed around for offers of employment in Canada," said the Vancouver-based lawyer and immigration policy analyst. (CBC)

Undocumented migrants urge city to cut ties between police and border services

Some demonstrators wore orange wings, like those of the monarch butterfly. For those at a weekend rally held at Mandela Park in Cote-des-Neiges, these wings are a symbol of the ability to travel anywhere, without borders or restrictions: something that undocumented migrants within the city are unable to do. They're asking that the city give them more protection from deportation threats, and easier access to a range of services. (CTV)

Syrian mom flees violent country, violent husband, finds hope in Windsor

Mariam Hasno and her four children are among the millions who have fled the horror and destruction in Syria. Hasno wasn’t just fleeing the trauma of war, however, but also the cruelty and random brutality of a domestic situation she believed was of a far greater threat to the lives of herself and her children. (Windsor Star)

Refugee Yazidis fleeing ISIS in Iraq, making London home

Janey Halo and Ramzya Issa have known each other for just over five years, but they've been through a lifetime of experiences together. Halo, 20, and Issa, 30, first met at a party in 2011, in northern Iraq. Six years later, they're newly arrived government-assisted refugees in London, missing family and lost loved ones. (CBC)

Murder, sex assault cases among those tossed due to delays in Canadian courts

The Supreme Court of Canada on Friday in a case involving a Newfoundland man accused of drug offences has upheld the principles of a ruling from last year regarding reasonable timelines for criminal cases. That earlier Supreme Court decision, R v. Jordan, imposed a period of 18 months for lower court cases to be finished, and 30 months for a Superior Court case to be finished. The court did allow that there should be a transitional period for cases already in the system (CBC)

Stunt driving, tax evasion, child abuse among allegations against foreign diplomats living in Canada

Foreign diplomats in Canada are racking up more unpaid debts, breaking more traffic laws, and violating passport rules more frequently, internal reports from Global Affairs Canada indicate. The reasons for the general rise in misbehaviour over the last two years are not clear, though may be related to outreach programs and tip lines that make it easier to report problems. (CBC)

U.S. punishes American firm after its Canadian subsidiary leases cars to Cuban embassy in Ottawa

U.S. President Donald Trump rolled back some of the key measures of his predecessor's rapprochement with Cuba Friday, making it harder for American tourists to travel to the island, and harder for American corporations to do business there. That move was immediately met with a rebuke from Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (CBC)

Does Justin Trudeau respect Donald Trump? ‘Of course,’ says the prime minister

Talking about U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday evening, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had to be pressed to say whether he respected and trusted the president. “I think my job is to work with any president, and one always respects the office,” Trudeau said in an interview with Global National’s Vassy Kapelos. Pressed to say whether he respected the person holding the Office of the President, Trudeau said, “Of course.” (Global)

Trump praises Trudeau for Canada’s increased military spending

President Trump praised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday for Canada’s announcement it will bolster its military spending, according to the White House. A phone call between the two leaders on Friday evening follows Canada unveiling a new defense budget aimed at increasing the country’s military spending budget to $32.7 billion over the next decade. The plan increases Canada’s defense budget by 70 percent over the next decade (The Hill)

Civilian oversight key to offensive cyber operations, says expert

The Canadian military will be compelled to develop — if it has not already — its own disruptive and destructive cyber weapons for deployment into an increasingly volatile online world, says a leading security expert. And the use of those cyber bombs will demand the strict supervision of the country's civilian leadership, says Rafal Rohozinski of the SecDev Group, an Ottawa based consultancy specializing in cyber threats. (CBC)

Mali Attack: Westerners once again the target of Islamist terrorists

“The best place to wait for rides is at the police checkpoints a few kilometres out of the towns,” recommends one of the rare travel guides to Mali. “Tell the police where you want to go, and they will sometimes stop vehicles on your behalf.” The Bradt guide to Mali was written after the Tuareg rebellion ended in 1995, and before the 2012 coup in the vast West African nation. Even though democracy was restored the following year after a Franco-African military intervention, an upsurge in Islamist terrorism since means the number of Westerners hitch-hiking through Mali has dwindled almost to nothing. (Independent)

ISIS claim responsibility for its first attack in Jerusalem: Terror cell say they were behind shooting and stabbing of Israeli policewoman

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a shooting and stabbing terror attack which resulted in the death of an Israeli policewoman. Hadas Malka, 23, a staff sergeant major, was fatally stabbed in Jerusalem and it is the first time ISIS has said it was behind an attack in the city. But the claim, which came with the jihadists facing defeat in their Iraq and Syria bastions, was swiftly dismissed by Palestinian militant groups. (Daily Mail)

Palestinians dispute ISIS claim for deadly attack on Israel

Palestinian militants disputed an Islamic State claim Saturday that it was behind a deadly attack against Israel, saying it was their people who killed a female police officer on duty near Jerusalem's Old City. Family members of the attackers said they were deeply religious men who acted on their own. (CTV)

Iran launches missile strike into Syria in response to Tehran attacks

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Sunday it launched missiles into eastern Syria targeting Islamic State militants in response to a June 7 attack on Iran’s parliament and a shrine in Tehran. The hardline paramilitary force also warned that it would similarly retaliate against anyone else carrying out attacks in Iran. (Times of Israel)

Missing sailors found dead in flooded compartments on US Navy destroyer

Seven missing sailors from the USS Fitzgerald were found dead in flooded berthing compartments following the warship's collision with a merchant vessel, a US military official said. The Navy's 7th Fleet said searchers found the bodies Sunday morning, Japan time, after the guided-missile destroyer returned to its base in Japan. (CNN)

Portugal Fires Kill More Than 60, Including Drivers Trapped in Cars

A raging forest fire in central Portugal this weekend killed more than 60 people, including at least 30 motorists who were trapped in their cars when the flames enveloped a stretch of road. The fire, which was still burning on Sunday afternoon, has brought “a dimension of human tragedy that we cannot remember,” Prime Minister António Costa said during a visit to the scorched area around Pedrógão Grande. (NY Times)

Google Says It Will Do More to Suppress Terrorist Propaganda

Google will increase its use of technology to identify extremist and terrorism-related videos across its sites, which include YouTube, and will boost the number of people who screen for terrorism-related content, Google’s General Counsel Kent Walker wrote in an editorial in the Financial Times Sunday. The company will also be more aggressive in putting warnings on and limiting the reach of content that, while not officially forbidden, is still inflammatory. (Bloomberg)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Candice Malcolm: The real legacy of Trudeau’s Syrian refugee program

“Man who beat wife said he didn’t know it was against law,” read a recent headline in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal. The man – Mohamad Rafia, a Syrian refugee – didn’t just beat his wife, he beat her with a hockey stick. For half an hour. Rafia told a Fredericton court that he didn’t know it was a crime in Canada to beat your wife with a hockey stick for half an hour. (Toronto Sun)

Anthony Furey: Canada’s an exceptional country - let’s keep it that way

The following is a condensed version of a speech I gave on Saturday in Ottawa to the organization POGG Canada: John A. Macdonald came to what we now call Canada from Scotland in 1820 at the age of 5 during an era in which average people were accustomed to considerable hardships. As a child, Macdonald saw his brother die after a blow to the head. He later watched his first wife suffer from illness and face an early death. And their first son died at just over a year old. (Toronto Sun)

Toronto Sun: Canada must also be on guard for violent rhetoric

There is no doubt that political rhetoric in the United States is incredibly heated. Violent incidents against Trump supporters have been happening for months. This tragically culminated in the shooting of Republic politicians on a baseball field. (Toronto Sun)

Mark Bonokoski: From the smoke of the Grenfell Tower come platitudes

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, now caught in the back-draft of the inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower in a nanosecond, is arguably prone to virtue signalling. He appears to love putting his moral values on the highest pedestal and, as the first ethnic minority mayor of London, and the first Muslim to become mayor of a major Western capital, he wears his soft-left progressiveness on his sleeve as if a badge of honour. (Toronto Sun)

Lorne Gunter: The RCMP play fast and loose with gun registry

id the Mounties defy Parliament and keep gun registry data intact even after being ordered, by law, to delete it in 2012? And did Deputy Commissioner Peter Henschel subsequently lie to a Parliamentary committee in June of 2015 by claiming registry data had been erased when, in fact, it hadn’t? I don’t think the RCMP broke the law or that Henschel outright lied. But – how to say this? – neither was fully forthcoming with the truth. (Toronto Sun)

John Ibbitson: Immigration, intolerance and the ‘populist paradox’

We may think most Canadians support the federal government’s wide-open immigration policy, which has made Canada a beacon of tolerance in this increasingly intolerant world, but the reality is more worrying. Support for immigration in Canada is soft and vulnerable. Governments must act to strengthen it, if this country is to avoid the polarization and conflict afflicting the United States and much of Europe. (Globe and Mail)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration meet later today to study M-39, Immigration to Atlantic Canada and the 2011 LGBTQ Refugee Pilot Project (4:30PM EST) (Partly Public)

-       Standing Committee on Public Safety meet later today to study Bill S-231 (3:30PM EST) (Public)

-       Standing Committee on National Defence meet tomorrow to study Canada’s Defence Policy Review (Public) (3:30PM EST)