True North Initiative: News Scan 06 21 17

TOP STORIES

Trudeau's fast-tracked refugees missed overseas orientation session: Docs

Many of the Syrian refugees who came to Canada as part of Justin Trudeau’s fast-tracked program did not receive an important overseas orientation session prior to arrival, the Sun has learned. According to information provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), refugees typically attend “a three-day group session that provides initial orientation about life in Canada.” However, due to the rushed nature of Trudeau’s decision to rapidly resettle tens of thousands of Syrians to meet his political timeline in 2015, this orientation was skipped. (Toronto Sun)

In massive security law overhaul, Liberals expand cyber-spying and create powerful new watchdog

A mammoth national security bill introduced by the Liberals on Tuesday greatly expands the powers of Canada’s electronic spy agency and creates a new “super agency” to conduct government-wide national security reviews. Far from simply rolling back some aspects of the controversial Bill C-51 passed by Stephen Harper’s government, which the Liberals promised in their platform (and which critics say they haven’t gone far enough in doing), the new legislation is being described as the largest reform to national security law since the early 1980s, when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was created. (National Post) (Toronto Star) (Globe and Mail)

Liberal anti-terror bill could make it harder for spies to do their job: former CSIS director

With resources at Canada’s spy agency already stretched, it’s possible the Liberals’ proposed anti-terror legislation will make it harder for spies to analyze potential terror threats, said former CSIS director Ward Elcock. “Overall, the sum of the legislation is ultimately, I think, going to add hugely to the workload of organizations like [the Canadian Security Intelligence Service],” he said in an interview. (Global)

World Refugee Day: Opposition MPs Call On Trudeau Liberals To Overhaul Asylum System

Opposition MPs seized on the occasion of World Refugee Day on Tuesday as they applied political pressure on the Liberal government to honour a long-standing promise to refugees by overhauling Canada's asylum system. Among other things, both the Conservatives and the NDP urged the government to examine the Canada-U.S. border, where upwards of 3,000 people have been arrested since January crossing between legal points of entry in order to claim asylum. (Huffington Post) (Global)

On World Refugee Day, Ottawa urged to clear sponsorship backlog

Andrew FitzGerald made a plea to Ottawa on World Refugee Day: please clear the backlog of the private sponsorship program by June 30, 2018. It’s a demand echoed across Canada by church and community groups, some having been waiting for as many as five years to resettle their matched refugees to Canada for a safe, stable life. “There is a backlog of 45,000 people sitting with the immigration department. Some are partially processed,” said FitzGerald of Canada4Refugees, a grassroots advocacy group for the private sponsorship community. (Metro) (Toronto Star)

Explosion at Brussels train station considered terrorist attack: Belgian federal prosecutor

An explosion at a train station in Brussels, Belgium, today, that prompted the station to be evacuated but left no victims injured, is considered a terrorist attack, according to the Belgian federal prosecutor's office. One suspect was shot by the military after the explosion at Brussels Central Station, a senior Belgian law enforcement official told ABC News. A spokesman for the Belgian federal police said the suspected attacker is dead. (ABC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

As global refugee population hits record high, Canada needs to do more: UNHCR

Canada has demonstrated the political will to help refugees, but much more needs to be done to address the growing crisis of displaced people around the world, the United Nations refugee agency’s representative to Canada said. On World Refugee Day, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative Jean-Nicolas Beuze said Canada has done its fair share of resettling refugees, especially with more recent efforts to welcome Syrian refugees. (CTV)

Deportation set for Guatemalan family in Edmonton despite plea for compassion

In a room full of media, the family sobbed. Despite pleas for compassion, their deportation dates have been set. Friends of the Guatemalan family in Edmonton called a press conference Tuesday in a desperate attempt to reverse the order, condemning the decision as unfair. (CBC)

The scale of the South Sudanese refugee crisis, in maps and photos

Every 20 minutes, someone leaves everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror, according to the United Nations. While most people likely think of Europe’s struggles to accommodate the massive numbers of refugees when they think of the global migrant crisis, African nations also host a significant number of refugees – around 4.4 million. (CTV)

Trudeau woos investors with $35 billion infrastructure bank

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is creating an infrastructure bank backed by billions in new spending to lure investment from global fund giants such as BlackRock Inc. and breathe new life into Canada’s stagnant economy. In a fiscal update Tuesday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveiled $81.2 billion in new infrastructure spending over the coming 12 years, including $8.9 billion before the next scheduled election in 2019. The government will establish a Canada Infrastructure Bank in 2017 mandated to invest $35 billion over the coming decade. (Financial Post)

Trudeau government leaves official languages office in legal limbo

The office of Canada's official languages commissioner is in a state of legal limbo, with nobody officially authorized to make certain decisions or sign documents normally signed by the commissioner, CBC News has learned. If it drags on, the situation could have more serious consequences, such as affecting court cases involving the official languages commissioner's office. (CBC)

Reporter complains of restricted access at Liberal ‘open fundraising’ event

A Hill journalist is calling into question the Liberal Party’s promise to make its fundraising events more open and transparent, after party staff restricted media access at a June 19 Ottawa event for the party’s top donors. It was the first such event in Ottawa under the party’s new “open fundraising” format, introduced earlier this spring. The donor appreciation night for Laurier Club members (those who donate at least $1,500 annually to the party) featured Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) speaking at the Canadian War Museum, though journalists did not have freedom to mingle with the crowd. (Hill Times)

Think tank leads corporate-funded campaign to sway Canadians on Chinese trade

An Ottawa-based think tank, with ties to corporate Canada and the federal government, is spearheading a campaign to persuade Canadians to embrace a free-trade deal with China. As Canada’s negotiators ready for a third round of exploratory trade talks with China, the Public Policy Forum (PPF) is embarking on a two-year effort, bankrolled by major corporations, to change Canadians’ minds about bilateral trade with the world’s second-biggest economy. (Globe and Mail)

Mulcair Hammers Trudeau For Breaking Promise On Access-To-Information Law

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is accusing the prime minister of a "con job" for breaking another campaign pledge, this time on Canada's access-to-information law. Mulcair hammered Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in question period Tuesday for backtracking on a promise to ensure the Access to Information Act applies to the Prime Minister's Office and those of his ministers. Such a change would make the offices subject to requests for information from Canadians. (Huffington Post)

Senators amend budget bill to remove automatic annual hikes to alcohol taxes

After narrowly avoiding a move in the Senate to split its budget implementation bill, the Liberal government is now staring down new amendments that would remove automatic annual hikes to excise duties on alcohol. The Senate's national finance committee Tuesday passed the amendments by a narrow 9-7 majority vote in defiance of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has said unelected senators should keep their hands off budget bills. (CBC)

Saudi king's son Mohammed bin Salman is new crown prince

Saudi Arabia's king has appointed his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince - replacing his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, as first in line to the throne. King Salman's decree also means Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, will become deputy prime minister while continuing as defence minister. (BBC)

Russian Jet Comes Within Feet of U.S. Spy Plane

An armed Russian fighter jet intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea on Monday, three U.S. defense officials told NBC News. The Russian aircraft flew within a few feet of the U.S. Air Force RC-135, the officials said, characterizing the interaction as both unsafe and unprofessional. The armed Russian aircraft was operating at a high rate of speed and the pilot had "poor control," according to the official. (NBC)

Hostages are released in their underwear after two EU soldiers and two guests were killed by militants at a luxury resort in Mali popular with Westerners

Four people have been killed and another is thought to be missing after terrorists stormed a popular holiday resort in Mali. Dozens of people were taken hostage during the attack on Sunday night but were released on Monday after security services stormed the complex near the Malian capital of Bamako. (Daily Mail)

Republican Karen Handel seals victory in key Georgia vote

US Republicans have won a closely contested congressional election in Georgia seen by many as a referendum on Donald Trump's presidency. Karen Handel retained the Atlanta seat with 53% of the vote, against 47% for her Democratic rival Jon Ossoff. The vacancy arose when Tom Price left to become health secretary. He had won the seat with a 23 point lead. (BBC)

Bomber shot dead during terror attack in Belgium was Moroccan 'sex offender' from jihadi ghetto Molenbeek: Fanatic screamed Allahu akbar and triggered explosion before being 'neutralised'

An attacker who detonated a nail bomb he was carrying in a suitcase at Brussels Central Station has been identified as a 36-year-old Moroccan national from the jihadi ghetto of Molenbeek. Known only by his initials OZ, officials have said he was not on their radar for links to terrorism, though local media said he was well-known for being as serial sex offender. (Daily Mail)

US spy satellites detect activity at North Korean nuclear test site

US spy satellites have detected new activity at North Korea's underground nuclear test site for the first time in several weeks, two US officials told CNN. The activity appears to involve some modifications around one of the tunnel entrances to an underground test area. (CNN)

Venezuela dares US to 'send in the Marines'

Venezuela scoffed at the US Tuesday for trying to forge a regional plan to address its raging crisis, saying the only way to make it comply was to "send in the Marines." "The 'contact group' you're proposing is completely useless and unnecessary," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez fumed at a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico. (Yahoo)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Ezra Levant: Trudeau’s “feminist” Liberals side with Muslim immigrants — even if they’re wife-beaters

As we told you earlier, a thug, Mohamed Rafia, was brought to Canada by Justin Trudeau as part of the Syrian refugee scam.  Rafia hated living in Canada. He didn’t know the language, didn’t like the food, didn’t have any friends, didn’t have a job. So this man was convicted of beating his wife with a stick. He told the court that he just didn’t know you weren’t allowed to do that here. (Rebel)

John Ivison: Failed Access to Information reforms the latest in a string of broken Liberal promises

Governments that came to power used to be able to burn their old speeches. Sadly for incoming prime ministers in the digital age, the rash promises they made to get elected are archived, just a click away. The Liberals pledged to restore trust in our democracy by being open with information as a default. The Access to Information Act would be updated to meet this standard, their election platform said, including an expansion of coverage to ministerial offices and the Prime Minister’s Office. (National Post)

Lloyd Axworthy and Paul Heinbecker: It’s time to fix the broken refugee system

Headlines about refugees tell intrinsic truths. Cumulatively they give us the essence of the story. And that essence is distressing. Consider this contemporaneous selection: “Europe turns its back on desperate migrants”; “Hundreds of migrants feared dead in Mediterranean”; “Trump budget cuts refugee resettlement funding”; “Refugee processing has ground to a halt.” These headlines show that the world is increasingly forsaking its refugees. The asylum system is both broken and broke. On World Refugee Day on Tuesday, we should take stock and recommit ourselves to reversing the retreat from humanity that these headlines expose. (Globe and Mail)

Thomas Walkom: U.S and Russia come close to the brink in Syria

Civil wars are complicated and dangerous. As Canada was reminded this week in Syria, outsiders who choose to involve themselves may end up with more than they bargained for. At the best of times, the Syrian civil war is a nightmare. This week, after a U.S. warplane downed a Syrian government jet over Syrian territory it became even more so. Russia, which is allied to Bashar Assad’s government in Damascus and which has its own warplanes flying over Syria, was furious. It announced it would target (but not necessarily attack) any U.S. or allied aircraft west of the Euphrates. (Toronto Star)

Susan Delacourt: Leave the cabinet alone, Trudeau. You've got other problems.

 Summer officially arrives in Ottawa this week, bringing with it the usual round of cabinet shuffle speculation. One thing always follows close on the other. As soon as political junkies start to envision a prolonged stretch of political inactivity around Parliament Hill, they begin to imagine ways to fill the vacuum. (IPolitics)

Aaron Wherry: The messy reality of Justin Trudeau's promise of 'real change'

At long last, the time for "real change" had apparently arrived. Three months after the government released a "discussion paper" on parliamentary reform — after the Liberals were accused of tyrannical intent, ​after the opposition flibustered, after the government finally backed down a bit, and after the Conservatives threatened to tie up the Commons anew — Government House leader Bardish Chagger was ready to move forward. (CBC)

Lysia Doucet: Is Saudi Arabia on the cusp of change?

Ask about change in Saudi Arabia. The reply used to be: it will come, in its own way and in its own time, in the conservative kingdom. It was another way of saying it would take a long time - and might never happen. But, in Saudi Arabia now, talk of change is measured in months. "I made a bet with a male colleague that the ban on women driving would end in the first six months of this year, and he said it would happen in the second half," a successful Saudi businesswoman says to me over lunch in the capital, Riyadh. (BBC)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration met Monday to study M-39, Immigration to Atlantic Canada and the 2011 LGBTQ Refugee Pilot Project (Partly Public)

-       Standing Committee on Public Safety met Monday to study Bill S-231 (Public)

-       Standing Committee on National Defence met yesterday to study Canada’s Defence Policy Review (Public)