True North Initiative: News Scan 07 28 17

TOP STORIES

Years after two ships brought 568 migrants to Canada, seven acquittals and one conviction

The first vessel — undersized and not built for ocean voyages — laboured toward the B.C. coast in October 2009 with 76 Tamil asylum-seekers onboard. Then in August 2010, a larger ship — but with the same questionable seaworthiness — was intercepted off the coast with 492 Tamil migrants. The Ocean Lady and Sun Sea passengers all claimed they were fleeing the ravages of civil war in Sri Lanka. But the Conservative government at the time took an aggressive stance — detaining and building cases against many of the asylum-seekers — as part of a campaign to deter future “irregular arrivals.” A handful of passengers from each ship were also charged with being part of criminal human-smuggling operations. (National Post)

B.C. court says four men accused of human smuggling not guilty

Four Sri Lankan men accused of bringing dozens of Tamil migrants to Canada aboard a dilapidated cargo vessel eight years ago have been found not guilty of human smuggling. Prosecutors argued that Francis Anthonimuthu Appulonappa, Hamalraj Handasamy, Jeyachandran Kanagarajah and Vignarajah Thevarajah helped organize the trafficking operation to profit from people looking for asylum in Canada. But Justice Arne Silverman of the Supreme Court of British Columbia said the Crown failed to prove its case. (CTV)

Border guards fired guns 18 times in a decade — accidentally in most cases

Canadian border guards have fired their guns only 18 times since the government equipped them with firearms a decade ago, and 11 of the shots were accidental discharges. Another six were to euthanize wounded animals, and in one case, the weapon was used to fend off an attacking dog, according to data provided to CBC News by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). (CBC)

Canadian Red Cross to monitor immigration detention centres

The federal government has signed a contract with the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) for the monitoring of Canada’s immigration detention centres to ensure they comply with domestic and international standards, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced Thursday. The two-year contract between the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the CRC will include regular visits throughout the year to detention facilities across Canada where immigration detainees are held, the government said. (Radio Canada)

Government wants security screening to be culturally sensitive

Transport Canada is looking for input to make sure the pat-downs, wand-overs and full-body scans that have become part of airport travel are also culturally sensitive. On behalf of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, Transport Canada has a survey online that asks people who wear cultural, religious or medical clothing about their experience with security. The agency doesn’t specify what kind of items they’re interested in, but presumably the list would include any kind of face or head covering, religious items and medical devices like walkers or wheelchairs. (Metro)

China accuses Canadian-Chinese tycoon of major role in pyramid scheme

A Chinese-Canadian businessman who attended one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s controversial cash-for-access fundraising dinners last year is now fighting accusations by prosecutors in China that he played a key role in a massive pyramid scheme that took in more than $350-million. Edward Gong, from his home in Markham, Ont., has assembled a business empire in recent years, acquiring hotels in the Toronto-area as well as the second-largest hotel in Michigan and two Chinese-language TV channels in Canada, including Canada National TV. He was an opera director before he moved to Canada in 2002 and became a wealthy entrepreneur, according to a 2016 profile in state-run China Daily. (Globe and Mail)

U.S. says Iran rocket test breaches U.N. resolution

Iran successfully tested a rocket that can deliver satellites into orbit, state television reported on Thursday, an action the United States said breaches a U.N. Security Council resolution because of its potential use in ballistic missile development. Iranian state television showed footage of the firing of the rocket, mounted on a launchpad carrying pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Reuters)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Justin Trudeau’s approval goes up despite continued division over Omar Khadr settlement: Ipsos poll

Though Canadians remain divided over the Liberal government’s decision to settle its suit with Omar Khadr, it hasn’t negatively affected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s overall ratings – in fact, his approval ratings are up four percentage points since April, according to an Ipsos poll. Trudeau remains popular with his usual bases – young voters and those in the eastern provinces, for example. But the bump in overall standing was surprising considering the backlash the government faced when the $10.5-million payment and public apology to Khadr became public, said Sean Simpson vice-president of Ipsos Public Affairs. (Global)

Trump, Republicans kill border tax plan

U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have agreed to kill an import-tax proposal that was strongly opposed by the Canadian government. “While we have debated the pro-growth benefits of border adjustability, we appreciate that there are many unknowns associated with it and have decided to set this policy aside in order to advance tax reform,” Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jointly announced in a news release on Thursday. (Toronto Star)

Canada hopes new NAFTA eases cross-border movement for workers

Enhanced labour mobility is high on the list of goals for the Canadian government as it gears up for next month's start of negotiations on a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement. Ohio-based trade lawyer Dan Ujczo shares an anecdote that explains why: A U.S. company was looking to make a "major investment" in either the Toronto area or Nashville, Tenn. The CEO had just decided Toronto would be the beneficiary when he was stopped at a border crossing by a Canadian border agent who told him he needed a work permit to enter Canada. (CTV)

Proposed corporation rules could be taxing for dozens of MPs

Dozens of members of Parliament could end up paying higher taxes as a result of Finance Minister Bill Morneau's move to tighten the tax rules for private corporations. A study by CBC News of ethics reports filed by Canada's MPs reveals that nearly one-third of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet — including Trudeau himself — own or have recently owned private corporations. Overall, one in four MPs, or 26 per cent of the House of Commons, own or have a significant interest in one or more private corporations, from farms and restaurants to holding companies with investment portfolios. (CBC)

New Canadian banking rules called 'game changer' for real estate tax evasion

New Canadian banking rules that took effect July 1 are a “game changer” that could help governments in Victoria and Ottawa fight real estate tax scams exploited by foreign buyers, says a prominent B.C. immigration lawyer. As of July 1, Canadian banks must confirm detailed information on non-resident clients — such as name, address, date of birth and taxpayer identification numbers — in order to report to the Canada Revenue Agency on all financial accounts held by non-residents of Canada. (Vancouver Sun)

Pearson ground crew workers reject offer, begin strike

About 700 ground crew workers at Canada’s busiest airport went on strike Thursday night after they rejected a contract offer from their employer. The members represented by the Teamsters union marched at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport waving picket signs and chanting “respect.” (Toronto Sun)

Maxime Bernier eyes finance critic job, hints at future Conservative leadership run

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier isn’t ruling out another run for party leadership and says he wants to play the crucial role of finance critic in leader Andrew Scheer’s shadow cabinet. Mr. Bernier, the libertarian leadership front-runner who finished second in the May contest with 49.05-per-cent support to Mr. Scheer’s 50.95 per cent, is making his expectations explicit as Mr. Scheer decides which MPs will hold major posts in his caucus before Parliament resumes in mid-September. (Globe and Mail)

Melania Trump is coming to Toronto

Melania Trump will visit Toronto in September as she leads her country's delegation at the 2017 Invictus Games, the White House announced on Thursday. The games, which were founded by Prince Harry in 2014, are an international sports competition for wounded, injured or sick soldiers, including current Armed Forces members and veterans. (CBC)

Death toll in Venezuela unrest soars past 100, according to AP

Days before a polarizing vote to start rewriting its constitution, Venezuela is convulsing to a rhythm of daytime strikes and nocturnal clashes. The most recent violence drove the death toll from months of unrest to 100 on Thursday. Most of the dead in anti-government protests that began in April are young men killed by gunfire. The toll also includes looters; police allegedly attacked by protesters; and civilians killed in accidents related to roadblocks set up during demonstrations. (Global)

U.S. orders Venezuela embassy families out, crisis deepens

The U.S. government ordered family members of employees at its embassy in Venezuela to leave on Thursday as a political crisis deepened ahead of a controversial vote critics contend will end democracy in the oil-rich country. Violence continued to rage on the street, with another seven people killed during the latest opposition-led strike against President Nicolas Maduro's planned election for a powerful new Constituent Assembly on Sunday. (Reuters)

They sleep for days on end: Freed from ISIL, women bear heavy toll

The 16-year-old lies on her side on a mattress on the floor, unable to hold up her head. Her uncle props her up to drink water, but she can barely swallow. Her voice is so weak, he places his ear directly over her mouth to hear her. The girl, Souhayla, walked out of the most destroyed section of Mosul this month, freed after three years of captivity and serial rape when her ISIL captor was killed in an airstrike. Her uncle described her condition as “shock.” He had invited reporters to Souhayla’s bedside so they could document what the terror group’s system of sexual abuse had done to his niece. (National Post)

'Jihadi bride', 17, 'married an ISIS fighter over SKYPE and plotted to launch UK attack with firearms and 'pineapple' hand grenades shipped from Syria'

A girl of 17 married an IS fighter on Skype and then plotted a terror attack at a British museum, a court heard yesterday. The teenager used the video chat system to wed Naweed Hussain, a Briton who had travelled to Syria to join up with jihadis. Together they allegedly planned an atrocity in which she would use hand grenades and a pistol to kill innocent civilians. (Daily Mail)

In New York, Trump to use gang violence to press for deportations

President Donald Trump will travel on Friday to a New York community shocked by a recent spate of graphic gang murders to highlight his efforts to stop illegal immigration and boost deportations. Trump's trip to Long Island gives the president an opportunity to showcase some progress on his agenda even as other legislative efforts flounder - and some respite from the chaos of a nasty power struggle among his senior staff that blew up on Thursday. (Reuters)

Trump's border wall prototypes in San Diego delayed until the winter

The border wall prototypes that were supposed to be built in June in San Diego have been likely delayed until winter because of complaints about the bidding process, Customs and Border Protection said Thursday. Two companies that bid on mock-ups of the proposed border wall with Mexico, a keystone of President Trump’s campaign, made formal protests after failing to make it to the second round. The Associated Press was the first to report the news. (LA Times)

Russia orders US to cut embassy staff in retaliation for sanctions

Russia has retaliated to new US sanctions by telling Washington to cut its diplomatic staff to 455 and barring the use of some properties. The new US embassy staffing level would be the same as at Russia's embassy in Washington. The Russian foreign ministry also said it was seizing holiday properties and a warehouse used by US diplomats. (BBC)

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif resigns over Panama Papers verdict

Nawaz Sharif has resigned as prime minister of Pakistan following a decision by the country's Supreme Court to disqualify him from office. The ruling came after a probe into his family's wealth following the 2015 Panama Papers dump linking Mr Sharif's children to offshore companies. Mr Sharif has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case. (BBC)

Israeli police on high alert for prayers at Jerusalem site

Israeli police were on high alert Friday ahead of Muslim prayers at a major Jerusalem shrine at the center of recent tensions. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said men under 50 would be barred from the site Friday following security assessments indicting Palestinians plan protests there. There are no restrictions on women. (AP)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Farzana Hassan: New book warns of Islamist dangers

In his well-researched, thoughtful and candid book on the dangers of fundamentalist Islam, The Ideological Path to Submission -- and what we can do about it, Howard Rotberg rhetorically asks this very pertinent question: “How can Western liberal feminist women, often with advanced university degrees, make common cause with Islamists who persecute women, gays and minorities?" (Toronto Sun)

Mark Bonokoski: Polls, the Ugly American, Rolling Stone and the Mad Hatter

If you believe in polls like dogs believe in poles, then the Liberals’ $10.5 million court settlement with Omar Khadr, as odious as any stink in recent times, will have little effect on the 2019 federal election. The Conservatives and their newly-elected leader Andrew Scheer will have to find better and badder dirt. Three different polls by three different Canadian pollsters show the Trudeau Liberals and their unquestionably sneaky deal with Khadr — leaked first about its signing, and the multi-million-dollar figure coming in a second media leak — has already found itself relegated to insignificant history by the majority of voters. (Toronto Sun)

Chris Selley: Rolling Stone's Trudeau profile isn't unusually fawning — it's just late to the party

What a tetchy neighbour Americans have in Canadians. When they ignore us, we mope. And when they notice us, they had better get everything right. We do not suffer errors gladly. Stephen Rodrick’s complimentary profile of Justin Trudeau, in the current issue of Rolling Stone, is a classic example — and some of the complaints, coming not least from Canadian journalists, are certainly well earned. (National Post)

Toronto Star: Ontario’s back in the coal business

We have a question for Premier Kathleen Wynne. Would Ontario be back in the coal business if she hadn’t sold off majority control of Hydro One in a fire sale, to shore up her cash-starved government? We think the answer from a Liberal government that has railed against the environmental evils of coal since it was elected in 2003 under premier Dalton McGuinty, is obvious. That answer is no. (Toronto Star)

Robyn Urback: No, [insert stupid partisan attack] will not derail NAFTA negotiations

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things that might jeopardize Canada's NAFTA negotiations with the U.S.: President Donald Trump's horoscope; too much time between lunch courses, an Alex Jones "exclusive" on mind-controlling pheromones in Canadian softwood lumber, the colour of Ambassador David MacNaughton's tie and/or a dog with a distractingly pouffy tail wandering around the Oval Office. (CBC)

Kyle Smith: The liberals’ cult of Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau: Why Can’t He Be Our President?” asks the cover of the latest edition of Rolling Stone. Well, the Constitution. But let’s assume Canada’s prime minister was born an American citizen: On the strength of the slavering, feverish, we’re-in-heat-and-we-don’t-care-who-knows-it Rolling Stone profile, Trudeau couldn’t even get the nomination of the Democratic party. Trudeau’s idyllic northern paradise is actually the world’s seventh-largest oil producer, and even Boy Band Angela Merkel doesn’t seem particularly eager to destroy the country’s fossil-fuel industry. Sensibly enough, he’s a big proponent of the Keystone Pipeline and Canada’s Kinder Morgan pipeline, which transports hydrocarbons between the oil sands of Alberta (which are “pockmarked,” RS gravely informs us, “like a B-52 bombing range”) and British Columbia. Sensibly enough, he notes that carbon-based fuel will be with us for quite some time: “One of the things that we have to realize is we cannot get off gas, we cannot get off oil, fossil fuels tomorrow — it’s going to take a few decades,” he tells RS. “Maybe we can shorten it, but there’s going to have to be a transition time.” (National Review)

David Dodwell: Hong Kong and Canada, surprisingly, have a lot to learn from each other

From Hong Kong to Canada for APEC meetings this week, there is a surreal and improbable sense of - so different, but so sneakily similar. Take the front page story in Toronto’s Globe and Mail reporting that Canada’s Supreme Court had quashed a regulatory permit for an oil-exploration programme that Inuit residents on Baffin Island feared would damage their rights to hunt narwhal, bowhead whales and polar bears. (SCMP)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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