True North Initiative: News Scan 07 12 17

TOP STORIES

Freeze order on Omar Khadr payout needs proof of risk: experts

Legal experts say the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan will have an uphill battle when her bid for a freeze order on Omar Khadr’s $10.5-million payout from Ottawa hits a Toronto courtroom on Thursday, but the outcome is hard to predict. A lawyer for Tabitha Speer, the widow of U.S. army Sergeant Christopher Speer, and for Layne Morris, a U.S. soldier partly blinded in the 2002 firefight that ended in Mr. Khadr’s capture, is seeking a freeze order on Mr. Khadr’s assets. (Globe and Mail)

DND refuses to discuss combat status of Canadian exchange officers

New figures show there are 104 members of the Canadian military serving with other nations on exchange programs, but National Defence has refused to say how many of them are deployed in front line operations. Officials are withholding the information even though internal government documents show at sometime in 2015 several Canadian fighter pilots — flying with an unidentified allied nation -—were engaged in combat against the so-called Islamic State. (CBC)

Ahmed Hussen says overloaded immigration lottery is 'fair'

An overloaded Canadian lottery system for new immigrants is "fair" and better than the program that it replaced, says Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen. The federal minister made the comments on Monday in Halifax in the wake of a National Observer report that revealed the system had backfired, falling far short of its intended targets. “It’s a very fair system,” Hussen told reporters after speaking at a conference about international students and immigration. “The previous system favoured those who lived closer to the centre or those who were able to pay a lot of money and hire an agent to basically stay in line for hours. This system is random, so it treats everyone fairly.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government introduced the lottery system to give all parents and grandparents with family in Canada the same chance of landing in the country by randomly selecting 10,000 candidates among all of the applicants. (National Observer)

Harrowing video captures terrifying drive to escape B.C. wildfires

Sally Aitken and her husband decided to leave their cabin in British Columbia's West Chilcotin region due to wildfires on Sunday. They were not ordered to evacuate, but had been without power for days and the only highway out had recently reopened. As they drove along Highway 20, they saw nothing overly dramatic: light smoke, burned trees. Then they suddenly they found themselves in the middle of an intense blaze, with flames leaping on either side of the road and smoke so dark they could barely see. (CTV)

Lobby group asked to stop offering access to Ottawa in exchange for $10,000

A high-tech lobby group led by a former Liberal aide has been asked to stop promising to deliver monthly meetings with a Liberal government chief of staff in exchange for $10,000. The Council of Canadian Innovators has revised its membership pitch after receiving a complaint from the office of Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. The incident is raising questions over what critics say is the inevitable lobbying push from corporate Canada as companies target the billions in federal tax dollars on offer from a Liberal government promising to boost innovation through spending on infrastructure and direct support for private firms. (Globe and Mail)

Trudeau to hold formal bilateral meeting with U.S. VP Mike Pence

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will hold a bilateral meeting with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence later this week while they're both visiting a conference of U.S. state governors. The event will be a formal sit-down. (CBC)

U.S. Army soldier arrested in Hawaii on terrorism charges

A U.S. Army sergeant stationed in Hawaii after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan was charged on Monday with attempting to provide material support to Islamic State extremists, including a drone aircraft and combat training instructions. Ikaika Erik Kang, 34, an air traffic control specialist who also had extensive military training in hand-to-hand combat, was arrested by the FBI on Saturday following a year-long undercover probe, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Reuters) (National Post)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Immigration board refuses to release four-year detainee Ebrahim Toure

The Immigration and Refugee Board has again refused to release a West African man who has spent more than four years in maximum-security jail without charge because the government has been unable to deport him. Ebrahim Toure, a 46-year-old failed refugee claimant who was profiled earlier this year as part of a Star investigation into immigration detention, has been locked up at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., since February, 2013. (Toronto Star)

Omar Khadr settlement: Canada ‘set the bar’ with apology, ex-Gitmo detainee says

For one thing, Begg said, Khadr’s payment was far in excess of anything the Britons received – reportedly a total of about $30 million. For another, the allegations that he killed an American soldier in Afghanistan, were more serious. (Global)

Bibeau to press Trump counterpart not to slash billions in aid spending

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says she will try to persuade her counterpart in the Trump administration not to slash billions in foreign aid as the president has proposed. Bibeau she will make the case for continued spending, including for family planning and abortion, when the new head of the U.S. Agency for International Development is finally hired. (Metro)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau flip-flops, now slated to attend Calgary Stampede

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend the Calgary Stampede after all, backtracking on an earlier decision to skip the event that angered some Albertans. Trudeau has been a regular face at Stampede over the past few years, including in 2016 when he attended two pancake breakfasts and met with the premier. However, on July 4 this year, Trudeau’s spokesman Cameron Ahmad told Postmedia the prime minister couldn’t attend due to scheduling constraints. (National Post)

Trump's biggest fans? Canadian universities

Canadian universities are seeing a surge in applications from overseas students, with the country's liberal, migrant-friendly image appearing to be an important attraction. Students who might once have headed for the United States now seem to be reconsidering and seeing Canada as a North American alternative. (BBC)

‘Some people just can’t leave the campaign behind’: O’Toole rips libertarian website run by Bernier supporters

Conservative MP and former leadership candidate Erin O’Toole has harsh words for a new pro-libertarian organization started by a former aide to Maxime Bernier, calling it a continuation of Mr. Bernier’s campaign for the Conservative Party leadership even after that race wrapped with a victory for Andrew Scheer in May. “All campaigns need to step away for a while, including that one,” said Mr. O’Toole, who came in third in the contest, just behind Mr. Bernier. (Hill Times)

Interest rates likely to increase today: How that could affect your loans

The odds that the Bank of Canada will increase its key interest rate by 0.25 per cent today are overwhelming, as far as financial markets are concerned. That rate, known in banking parlance as the "overnight rate," determines the rate at which banks lend money to each other on a regular basis. In practice, changes in the overnight rate get passed on to consumers through corresponding changes in interest rates on different financial products. (CBC)

Donald Trump Jr 'was told before meeting Moscow lawyer with "dirt on Hillary" that it was part of a Russian government plot to help his father win the election'

Donald Trump Jr was told that his meeting with a Moscow lawyer with ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton was part of an effort by the Russian government to help his father win the election, a new report claims. Trump Jr was allegedly told before his meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya the 'Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information' in an email from British PR guru Rob Goldstone, according to the New York Times. (Daily Mail)

Trump 'didn't know about son's Russia meeting'

US President Donald Trump's son has said he did not tell his father about a meeting with a Russian lawyer who said she could help his election campaign. Donald Trump Jr told Fox News the meeting was "just a nothing" but he should have handled it differently. (BBC)

Romantic jihadi gives new bride suicide bomb belt

A caliphate-loving casanova gave his new bride a sparkling new suicide belt as a dowry, it has been revealed. And the new groom wasn’t called Honey, Sweetie Pie or Bumpkins - his pet name was The Decapitator. According to the Daily Mail, Asia Ahmed Mohamed left Spain in 2014 to marry Moroccan Mohamed Hamdouch. At their wedding ceremony, the tender-hearted terrorist gave his wife the explosive belt that could obliterate scores. During their brief marriage, the fun couple had a son. (Toronto Sun)

Israel Is Buying Drones That Fly With Machine Guns

The Israeli military is taking drone warfare to a new level with its procurement of small multi-rotor drones that can carry machine guns and other kinds of weapons. A former Israeli Special Forces veteran and another ex-Israeli military friend are making the drones through their Florida startup, Duke Robotics. (Foxtrot Alpha)

Saudi Arabia to Offer Physical Education Classes for Girls

Does Islam allow girls to play tag? What about soccer? Such questions have suddenly become points of public policy in Saudi Arabia as public schools in the ultraconservative kingdom prepare, for the first time in their history, to offer physical education for girls. (NY Times)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Lorne Gunter: Liberals miscalculated on Khadr settlement

Get ready to write a lot of cheques. According to Global Affairs Canada, there are over 1,400 Canadians imprisoned in other countries, many victims of mistreatment by foreign governments. If the Trudeau Liberals feel the need to compensate every one of them as they have war criminal Omar Khadr, Canadian taxpayers could be on the hook for $15 billion. (Toronto Sun)

Terry Glavin: Khadr's payout looks to Canadians like it's burying a Liberal scandal

We’re still in the early innings, but it would appear that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pieties about the sanctity of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms aren’t quite a match for the blowback over his government’s decision to cough up $10.5 million and an apology in a secret deal with Guantanamo Bay’s loudly-argued-about former inmate, Omar Khadr. (National Post)

Colby Cosh: The Liberals' political fallout from the Omar Khadr payout could surprise us

Amidst great controversy over the Canadian government reaching a $10.5-million legal settlement with Canadian terrorist offspring Omar Khadr, I have a suggestion: what if we agreed to regard the payment as a prize for inadvertently educating the public? It should be unusually obvious from the opinion pages of the last few days (with “opinion pages” broadly defined) that even people who make a professional living offering dispassionate analysis of events have trouble distinguishing what is true, or what is likely, from what they would like to be true. The innate human reluctance to tell an “is” from an “ought” is laid bare. Call it a sort of accidental philosophy prize. (National Post)

Susan Delacourt: Are Trudeau's travels making him vulnerable at home?

Around this time of year, many Canadians decide they’re happier when they’re travelling outside the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be one of them. The past couple of weeks in Canadian political news have only served to underline what’s fast becoming a fact of life for Trudeau as he nears the mid-point of his mandate: His “sunny ways” style seems to have a more enduring effect when the prime minister is away from home. (IPolitics)

Paul Adams: The New York Times' campaign to conquer Canada

The New York Times has come to Canada in a big way, and that has implications for readers here — many of them positive — as well as for the Canadian media landscape, which are more complicated. For a decade or so, the Times has relied on a single Ottawa-based reporter, the extremely capable Ian Austen. It has now added a reporter in Toronto and two other U.S.-based correspondents with Canada as their beat. Equally important, the newspaper has licensed reporters in Science, Fashion, the Arts and other sections to report on Canada more aggressively. (IPolitics)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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