True North Initiative: News Scan 07 17 17

TOP STORIES

Trudeau says he did not reach out to soldier's widow in wake of Khadr payout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he did not reach out to Tabitha Speer in the wake of his government's decision to apologize and compensate Omar Khadr.  Speaking to reporters in Rhode Island after delivering the keynote speech at the National Governors Association conference on Friday, Trudeau also would not comment on reports former prime minister Stephen Harper called both Speer and wounded U.S. soldier Layne Morris after the settlement became public. (CBC)

Scheer says Speer family needs to know Canadians don't back Khadr payment

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his sympathies for the families of the alleged victims of Omar Khadr Friday, but unlike his prime ministerial predecessor, said he has not reached out to them directly. It's an omission Opposition Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he intends to rectify, arguing it is important the families know that not all Canadians agree with a decision by the Liberal government to settle Khadr's multi-million-dollar lawsuit. (CTV)

Canadians Raise Money For U.S. Soldier's Family After Khadr Settlement

Canadians across the country have been reaching into their wallets to donate money to the family of an American soldier whom Omar Khadr is accused of killing in Afghanistan 15 years ago. The online fundraising effort — part political protest, part generosity — comes amid a furor over the $10.5 million sources said the federal government paid Khadr for breaching his rights while he was an American prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. (Huffington Post) (National Post)

Thousands of Canadian girls are at risk of female genital mutilation: officials

Thousands of Canadian girls are at risk of female genital mutilation, government officials believe. And some are being taken overseas to have the dangerous procedure done — an illegal act known as “vacation cutting.” Officials from the federal government’s Global Affairs Ministry warn that, as with forced marriage, the “one chance rule” applies to these cases, meaning a professional might get only one opportunity to speak to a potential victim and save her, according to documents obtained by the Star. (Metro) (Toronto Star)

Thousands of refugee/asylum seekers cases suspended due to border agency delays

Hafiz Fiaz Ahmad left behind his family and fled repeated threats from religious extremists in Pakistan to seek asylum in Canada in March. The 37-year-old native of Lahore was quickly scheduled for a refugee hearing on June 21. However, a week before the proceedings, he received a letter from the Immigration and Refugee Board informing him that his hearing was cancelled because his security clearance by border officials was still pending. “I was prepared. My lawyer was prepared. I couldn’t wait to tell my story to a refugee judge,” said Ahmad, who said he was targeted by religious fanatics for his secular views. (Toronto Star)

What do Canadians think about immigration levels? Three poll results

Global migration has escalated into a key topic of public discussion in Europe and most English-speaking countries. The influential Economist magazine, which targets the business elite, devotes one or two articles each week to migration trends in Western countries, which are among the few that formally welcome immigrants. Despite calls from those on the left, centre and right for a fair debate over immigration, however, the topic of migration is often avoided or muted in Canada. (Calgary Herald)

Winds fan flames in fire-stricken B.C., Williams Lake latest city to face evacuation

Williams Lake, B.C., is the latest city in the province to face an evacuation order due to wildfires. The order came around 6 p.m. PT Saturday as officials spent the day monitoring strengthening winds. Around 24,000 people live in Williams Lake and its surrounding areas, but at least 50 per cent of those people have already left in the past week. (CBC)

Trudeau tells US governors to ditch 'America First'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told governors from across the US to ditch the "America First" motto. His National Governors' Association speech in Rhode Island on Friday was a first for a Canadian prime minister. In his speech, Mr Trudeau urged US governors to embrace their neighbour to the north and avoid protectionism. It is all a part of his aggressive strategy to promote a "thinner border" ahead of vital trade talks with the US renegotiating the Nafta treaty. (BBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Meet Hanna Bohman, the Canadian G.I. Jane who's fighting ISIS after joining the YPJ's revolution

Canada’s G.I. Jane found worth and meaning inside one of the most dangerous areas on the planet. Hanna Bohman’s location – “somewhere in Iraq or Syria,” she told the Toronto Sun earlier this month – remains a secret due to safety concerns. The 48-year-old self-described “badass” is back in the Middle East for the third time since 2014 and volunteering with the YPJ, an all-female military unit in northern Syria that’s taking a two-pronged fight to ISIS while waging war in the name of feminism. (Toronto Sun)

The female front line

Hundreds of Iranian Kurds, many of them young women, have volunteered to defeat the so-called Islamic State - and to fight for a Kurdish homeland. 17-year-old Aso Saqzi ran away from home in Iran to join the cause. Here, in this 360 video, see Aso and her comrades on the front line - in the remote hills of northern Iraq. (BBC)

Turkish asylum claims up 5-fold in Canada amid Erdogan's 'witch hunt'

One year after a dramatic military coup unfolded and ultimately failed live on Turkish state television — with defiant soldiers commandeering warplanes and facing off against government supporters on a bridge over the Bosphorous Sea — the government crackdowns that ensued continue to be felt as far away as Canada. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada says asylum claims from Turkey shot up to more than 1,300 during 2016 — close to five times as many as the year before — with about 398 claims accepted, about four times as many in 2015. This year, the agency says, there have already been 590 claims, 248 of which have been accepted so far. (CBC)

‘This is how the horror spreads’

For a 68-year old, Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu packs some serious walking power. On day 24 of his 25-day March for Justice, the leader of Turkey’s opposition Republican Peoples Party, or CHP, sets a torrid pace on the seaside road in Pendik, near Istanbul’s eastern city limits, forcing the small army of police surrounding him into a light jog. He has travelled 440 km since his trek began in Ankara, the capital. There is a swelling crowd of supporters—tens of thousands following him and thousands more lining the four-lane thoroughfare. (Macleans)

Ghanaian grandmother buried near where she died at Canada-U.S. border

A Ghanaian woman who died trying to walk across the border into Canada has been quietly laid to rest just short of her destination. Mavis Korkor Outeye had been trying to travel to Toronto to visit her daughter and newborn granddaughter in May. Mavis's daughter, Peace Otuteye, from Toronto, and her husband, Dick Otuteye, from Ghana, received visas to travel to the U.S. for her June 28 burial in Hallock, Minn. (CBC)

After a Harrowing Flight From U.S., Asylum Seekers Find Asylum in Canada

Razak Iyal and Seidu Mohammed became the public face of desperation among refugees in the United States after President Trump’s election. A trucker found them half-frozen north of the Canadian border on Christmas Eve. They had walked — sometimes waist deep in snow — across farm fields to avoid being deported from the United States. Their fingers were so severely frostbitten that all of them had to be amputated — with the exception of Mr. Iyal’s right thumb. (New York Times)

Over 50 from Gujarat trafficked to Canada, US since January 2016

The Sahar police probing a human trafficking racket at Mumbai airport have found that 52 people from Gujarat flew to Canada and the US with fake/forged passports since January 2016. Only one of them has been caught and deported from Canada while the others have been living illegally in the two countries. (Times of India)

Foreign-born recruits, promised citizenship by the Pentagon, flee the country to avoid deportation

Frustrated by delayed promises from the U.S. military for citizenship, and in fear of the Islamic State if he were deported back to Iraq, Ranj Rafeeq has given up the American Dream for a Canadian one. Rafeeq was eager as a teenager to translate for U.S. troops stationed in his home town of Kirkuk in 2005. He immigrated to Portland, Ore., to study seven years later, hoping to don an Army uniform after earning his graduate degree in civil engineering. He signed an enlistment contract in January 2016, with a training date set in September. “I loved American soldiers. It was my dream to be a part of them,” Rafeeq, now 29, told The Washington Post. (Washington Post)

Quebec town votes against allowing Islamic cemetery to be built

Muslims in the Quebec City area are facing disappointment and uncertainty after voters in a small town close to the provincial capital voted Sunday night to stop the development of a cemetery catering to the Islamic faith. In a closely watched referendum Sunday night, just 36 residents of Saint-Apollinaire, a town of around 6,000 southwest of Quebec City, voted 19-16 to overturn zoning changes made earlier this year allowing the cemetery. One ballot was rejected. (Toronto Star)

How a global farm group is helping fight terrorism

Countries trying to protect youth from being radicalized by international terrorist groups have found an unlikely ally: their local 4-H Clubs. Youth in 4-H clubs have been a staple in predominately rural communities for more than 100 years. Today the international organization has more than seven million members spread across 70 countries, with programs designed to teach youth leadership while raising agricultural awareness and encouraging community engagement. Here in Canada, some 24,000 Canadian youth are 4-H members with nearly 2,000 local clubs in operation across the country (IPolitics)

Former CSIS director responds to allegations of toxic workplace culture

The former director of Canada’s spy agency is responding to allegations of a workplace environment tainted by racism, homophobia, and discrimination against Muslims. A lawsuit is seeking $35 million in damages. The allegations against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service were made by veterans of the organization in a court document obtained by CTV News. None of the allegations has been proven in court. (CTV)

Majority of U.S. firms say free trade with Canada helps their economy: poll

More than one in two American businesses say the United States is better off because of free trade with Canada, with particularly strong support in the northeastern U.S., according to a new poll. A new Nanos survey found that 54 per cent of U.S. businesses think the country’s economy is in a better position because of free trade with Canada, while 15 per cent believe it is worse off, 17 per cent believe there has been no impact and 14 per cent are unsure. (Globe and Mail)

Travel ban ruling in U.S. court opens path for more refugees, but appeal awaits

A court decision on President Donald Trump's travel ban has reopened a window for tens of thousands of refugees to enter the United States, and the government is looking to quickly close it. The administration late Friday appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court after a federal judge in Hawaii ordered it to allow in refugees formally working with a resettlement agency in the United States. (CBC)

Over 7 million cast symbolic votes in Venezuelan referendum

Foes of President Nicolas Maduro said more than 7 million Venezuelans cast symbolic votes rejecting his plan to retool the constitution in a strong but not overwhelming showing that left the opposition facing tough choices two weeks before the socialist leader seeks to reshape the political system. The vote was marred by violence when a 61-year-old woman was killed and four people wounded by gunfire after government supporters on motorcycles swarmed an opposition polling site in a church in western Caracas. (USA Today)

'At home, we couldn’t get by': more Venezuelans flee as crisis deepens

There are no luxuries in the four-room house in southern Bogotá, where 12 recently arrived Venezuelans huddle on thin mattresses under even thinner blankets to ward off the Andean mountain chill. They have no hot water, and what few furnishings they have were salvaged from a nearby dump. They work 12-hour shifts at car washes or kitchens, earning between $6.50 and $13 a day. Because most do not have work permits, they are under constant threat of deportation. (Guardian)

Italy postpones hotly-contested immigrant citizenship law

Italy's government will not try to push through a law that would grant citizenship to the children of immigrants in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Sunday. The draft law faced opposition from politicians including members of a small centrist group which supports Gentiloni's Democratic Party's (PD) slim majority in the upper house Senate. (Globe and Mail)

Australia opens way for faster military response to 'terrorist incidents'

Australia's military will be more readily deployed to respond to "terrorist incidents" on home soil under proposed changes to laws announced by the government on Monday. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said state and territory police forces would remain as the first response to such incidents, but the military would offer support to enhance their capabilities. (Globe and Mail)

US forces and Somali commandos kill several al-Shabab fighters and free detainees in raid

United States and Somali military forces raided a rebel-held village in southern Somalia and killed several al-Shabab fighters early Thursday, a senior Somali intelligence official said, as both countries step up efforts against Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group. Somali commandos accompanied by U.S. forces in two helicopters raided two locations, the official said. (Business Insider)

Jordan soldier who killed US trainers jailed for life

A Jordanian soldier has been sentenced to life in prison with hard labour for killing three US military trainers last year. Marik al-Tuwayha, who pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder, attacked the men as their vehicles approached al-Jafr airbase in November. One was killed at the base and two others died later in hospital. (BBC)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES 

Candice Malcolm: Trudeau’s Khadr remarks don’t stand up to scrutiny

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has changed his tone, once again, on the Omar Khadr deal. Canadians are angry, and Trudeau is now taking a more somber line of reasoning to justify his secret payout. “I can understand Canadians’ concerns about the settlement,” said Trudeau on Thursday. “In fact, I share those concerns about the money. That’s why we settled.” At least Trudeau is finally admitting that it was, indeed, his government’s decision to settle with Khadr. For the past week, Trudeau and his apologists have insisted that the payout was the result of a Supreme Court judgment that said Khadr’s rights had been violated. (Toronto Sun)

Toronto Sun: Khadr case about saving money? Really?

Suddenly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the never-ending federal deficits is worried about spending too much of our money. That was his latest explanation last week for his decision to settle Omar Khadr’s $20 million civil suit against the government for $10.5 million and an apology. Trudeau says he understands Canadians are concerned about the $10.5 million payout and he is too, which is why the government made the deal. Otherwise it could have cost up to $40 million, Trudeau said. (Toronto Sun)

James Wallace: Canada's shameful history of neglecting veterans

Few in Canada, apart from his apologists, support the federal Liberals' secret $10.5 million payoff and formal apology to Omar Khadr. There’s little mystery in that. Khadr, regardless of his relative youth at the time or the specifics of his engagement in a firefight that left a U.S. soldier dead, was widely viewed as having won a jackpot for fighting with terrorists against Canada. (Toronto Sun)

David French: Have Afghan Refugees in Europe Launched a ‘Rape Jihad’?

One of the hallmarks of jihadists is their grotesque savagery against women. The classic Hollywood picture of a jihadist as a pure, pious young Muslim man is largely nonsense. The reality is far more brutish. The tales of sex slavery in ISIS-held Iraq and Syria should chill thinking people to the bone. During my own time in Iraq, al-Qaeda terrorists were known for systematically raping women as part of an effort to shame them into becoming suicide bombers. After brutal gang rapes,  they were told that the only way they could “redeem” their allegedly lost honor was to strap a bomb on their broken bodies and blow themselves up at restaurants, checkpoints, and hospitals. It was pure evil. (National Review)

Anthony Furey: The North Korea fiasco is Canada’s problem too

A failure of strategic imagination. That’s the term military theorists call it when we just can’t bring ourselves to imagine a catastrophic event occurring. Even when the pieces are falling into place right before our eyes. It’s just too outside what we’re used to and we have no frame of reference to seriously consider it. That’s where we seem to be when it comes to thinking about North Korea. The threats posed to us by the hermit kingdom don’t have that firm of a grip on our collective conscious. Not as much as, say, our worries about Islamist terror or the concerns surrounding cyber warfare from the likes of China and Russia. (Toronto Sun)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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