True North Initiative: News Scan 07 07 17

TOP STORIES

Ottawa pays out $10.5-million to Omar Khadr

The Trudeau government has quietly paid a $10.5-million settlement to Omar Khadr in a move that circumvents legal efforts by two Americans to prevent him from receiving compensation for abuses he suffered as a teenager at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The payout to Mr. Khadr and his legal team was given on Wednesday and cashed immediately, according to a source involved in the transaction. Legal settlements do not fall under taxable income, so Mr. Khadr will not have to pay taxes on the $10.5-million. (Globe and Mail)

More violent criminals entering Canada from Mexico after Liberal decision to lift visa requirements

Before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that visitors from Mexico would no longer need visas to enter Canada, border officials predicted the decision would make it easier for criminals to enter the country, newly released documents show. In intelligence reports, officials wrote that associates of Mexican crime groups such as the ultraviolent Sinaloa cartel were already turning up in Canada and said lifting the visa requirement would “facilitate travel to Canada by Mexicans with criminal records.” (Global)

Quebec murder suspect deported to Sri Lanka after trial delays set him free

The first murder suspect in Quebec to be set free after his trial exceeded the legal length limit has been deported back to Sri Lanka. Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham left the country Wednesday evening. He was accused of murdering his wife in 2012 but the charges were stayed in April after the length of his legal proceedings was deemed to have violated a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that set time limits for trials to be completed. (Global)

‘Forgotten refugees’ say they’re tired of waiting for their cases to be heard

Some came to Canada for asylum as children and are now finishing high school. Others arrived as young adults and are now parents. Many have not seen their families back home for five or six years. On Thursday, these “forgotten refugees” who have been waiting for an asylum hearing since 2012, held a silent protest in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board headquarters in Toronto, hoping to be heard by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government. (Toronto Star)

'Impossible to close the gap': Immigration board boss says more resources needed to process legacy refugees

Faced with a swelling backlog and a promise to resolve five-year-old asylum claims, the chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada admits he needs more funding and more people. Mario Dion insists the IRB has become more efficient in dealing with cases, but it's not enough. "I am afraid the way things are at this point we will need additional resources ... because there is a limit to how much you can stretch one person's time," Dion said in an interview with CBC News. (CBC)

From murder to sex assault: More than 200 cases tossed over court delays

More than 200 criminal cases across the country have been tossed due to unreasonable delays since the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark Jordan decision one year ago, court data shows. The cases include murders, sexual assaults, drug trafficking and child luring, all stayed by judges because the defendant’s constitutional right to a timely trial was infringed. (Globe and Mail)

Canada’s egregious multimillion dollar payout to American-killing jihadist

Omar Khadr, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who pleaded guilty to killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, was just given a multimillion dollar apology payout from Canada. What a face-slap to the widow and other family and friends of the now-deceased U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. But this is Justin Trudeau’s world, the one where cold-blooded killers receive more sympathy than the victims they kill. (Washington Times)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

El Salvadoran asylum seeker takes Canada to court over refugee law

An El Salvadoran woman and her two daughters are challenging a Canadian refugee law that bars their entry by land, the first time a court has heard a legal objection to the law with a real-life case at its center. The woman, whose lawyers have asked that she be identified only as E, was rebuffed under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) when she arrived at the Canada-U.S. border early on Wednesday morning seeking refuge. (NY Daily News) (Radio Canada)

Canada’s ‘Safe Third Country’ agreement isn’t really holding back that many refugees: advocates

Calls for Canada to strike down its so-called Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S. are reaching a fever pitch as three advocacy groups throw their weight behind a legal challenge at the Federal Court. The Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches are asking the court to step in and force Canada to suspend the agreement in light of major changes to immigration and refugee policies in the United States. (Global)

Activists challenge 'unsafe' US-Canada pact that prompts refugees to flee by foot

Refugee advocates are taking legal action in the hope of striking down a longstanding pact between Canada and the US that has prompted thousands of asylum seekers to brave freezing temperatures, fields of waist-deep snow and icy rivers to cross into Canada by foot. (Guardian)

Feds find no evidence of significant number of Canadians in citizenship limbo

There is no evidence of a significant number of individuals in citizenship limbo — so-called “Lost Canadians” — according to a February memorandum to the immigration minister, obtained by iPolitics through an access to information request. “‘Lost Canadians’ are individuals who lost or never acquired their Canadian citizenship due to the provisions and application of previous citizenship acts. Over time, advocacy groups have expanded the term to include any individual having difficulty access or proving Canadian citizenship,” the memo says. (IPolitics)

Report recommends Canada revive wealthy immigrant program linked to soaring home prices

For 18 years, the federal government invited rich people from around the world to buy a life in Canada. The Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) sought people with net worth of at least $1.6 million to make an $800,000 loan to the Canadian government that would be returned to them after five years, interest-free. In exchange, they were given permanent residency. (Global)

Majority of Canadians think religion does more harm than good

More than half of Canadians believe religion causes more harm than good, a new poll has found. The survey by Ipsos found the proportion of people who held the belief had increased in recent years, from 44 per cent in 2011 to 51 per cent this year. Less than a quarter of people, or 24 per cent, believed that religious people made better citizens, down eight points from 2011, Global News reported. (Independent)

Officials considered one-on-one meeting between Trudeau and Putin, documents say

Canadian foreign affairs officials were contemplating a one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Russian President Vladimir Putin, documents obtained by the Star show. Warming relations between Ottawa and Moscow had senior public servants envisioning a “leaders’ level encounter” between Trudeau and Putin as recently as August 2016. “Re-engaging (with Russia) is a complex undertaking which understandably elicits a range of views on how best to proceed,” the heavily-censored documents read. (Toronto Star)

G20: Protests flare as leaders gather

Police and anti-summit protesters clashed for a second day, as world leaders gathered in Hamburg, Germany, for the G20 summit. US President Donald Trump will meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for the first time. (BBC) (Daily Mail)

Hawaii, Alaska contemplate coming into North Korean missile range

D isused military tunnels snake beneath the crater of Diamond Head, out of sight of the tourists lounging near the volcano on Waikiki Beach but very much on the mind of Gene Ward, a state representative from Honolulu. Alarmed by North Korea's latest missile tests and claims that its newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) can carry a large nuclear warhead, Ward believes it is time to refurbish the tunnels as civilian shelters in case of a North Korean attack. (Reuters)

Gorbachev urges Trump and Putin to 'rebuild trust'

The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, on Thursday urged Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to restore trust between the United States and Russia a day ahead of their first meeting in Hamburg. "Above all it is good that this meeting is finally happening, but a shame that it is only coming now," Gorbachev told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. (Yahoo)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Robyn Urback: Omar Khadr might be entitled to a settlement, but it's wrong to say he 'deserves' it

How does one look at the case of Omar Khadr — who admitted killing an American soldier, but was also a child; who confessed to war crimes, but was also likely under duress; who built bombs, but was also abandoned by his country while probably being tortured at Guantanamo Bay — and decide that the situation is unambiguous, black and white? That Khadr is either a deranged terrorist or an indoctrinated former child soldier, who either disgraces Canada by receiving a $10.5 million settlement, or redeems it for its failures? (CBC)

Howard Anglin: Trudeau is making Omar Khadr rich, and he still hasn’t told us why

The Liberal government’s decision to pay Omar Khadr $10.5 million was a political choice and until the government offers a coherent explanation—why now? why so much?—it deserves the skepticism and suspicion it’s received. Until last week, Khadr’s $20 million lawsuit against the Canadian government had been proceeding slowly along the long path to judicial resolution—a path it’d been on for more than a decade. There was no court order requiring payment and the government could have continued defending the claim for years to come. That’s why reports of a sudden settlement caught everyone by surprise. (National Post)

Farzana Hassan: Under Islamic beliefs, Omar Khadr was no child

Ever since the Trudeau government’s reported $10 million-plus settlement with Omar Khadr became public, one aspect of the debate has centred around whether he was responsible for his actions at the age of 15. Accepted Islamic belief confirms the age of maturity at puberty. For boys, this is marked by the appearance of facial hair, a deepening of voice, and other, less visible, hormonal changes. (Calgary Sun)

Lorrie Goldstein: Liberals all over the map on Khadr

While the reported deal between the Trudeau government and Omar Khadr, awarding him over $10 million and an official apology from Canada is shocking, it isn’t surprising. The die was cast in 2010 when the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled the federal government violated Khadr’s constitutional rights as a citizen (he was born in Canada) to “life, liberty and security of the person.” (Toronto Sun)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       N/A