True North Initiative: News Scan 08 01 17

TOP STORIES

Calgary's Syrian refugees: Progress being made, but majority of government-sponsored newcomers remain unemployed

With many of Calgary's Syrian refugee families having now been in the city here for a year and a half, the first blush of enthusiasm for their new home has given way to the day-to-day realities of building a life in a place that's very different from where they've come from. Sprawling Calgary, with its harsh winters, high cost of living and varied cultural and gender norms, presents a steep learning curve for the more than 3,800 refugees estimated to have arrived in the city since late 2015. (Calgary Sun)

Syrian family who named baby after Justin Trudeau finds elusive safety in Calgary, but also struggles

The Bilans have only been in Canada for a year but it's been six since they left their home — and extended family — in Damascus, after Muhammad was twice arrested and questioned by the Syrian Arab Army. Fearful, they went to Lebanon but jobs there were scarce and, now with two young children, they wanted a more secure future. When war broke out in Syria and they knew they could not return, they applied for refugee status in Canada. (Toronto Sun)

North Korea nuclear threat renews debate on Canada's participation in U.S. missile defence

U.S. President Donald Trump pledged on Monday to "handle" the evolving threat posed by North Korea's increasing ballistic missile capability. What that means — for the world at large — is anyone's guess, and just how much blowback from that promise could strike Canada is a matter of broadening debate. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned as "provocative" and "irresponsible" the recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, but was largely silent on the ramifications for this country and the stark choices his government may face. (CBC)

Sydney terror raids: Australia issues strong denial it was rushed into raids by British travel warning

The Turnbull government has vehemently denied that police were rushed into arresting four alleged plane bomb plotters by a British threat to issue a public travel warning about Australia. As police held the suspects for a third day, more details of the alleged network emerged with confirmation two men are related to a hardened foreign fighter in Syria and reports that another has a brother believed to be a senior Islamic State figure. (SMH)

Ottawa urged to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia amid probe

Opposition parties and human-rights groups are calling on the Trudeau government to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia as federal officials probe the apparent use of Canadian-made armoured vehicles against Saudi civilians. As The Globe and Mail reported last week, the Saudis appear to have deployed combat machines made by Terradyne Armored Vehicles, based in Newmarket, Ont., in an escalating and deadly conflict with Shia Muslim militants in the Mideast country’s Eastern Province. Military-equipment experts identify the vehicles, which feature armour cladding and weapons turrets, as Gurkha RPVs. (Globe and Mail)

Opposition, activist call on Liberals to sanction Venezuelan government

The opposition and a leading Venezuelan-Canadian activist are calling on the Liberal government to follow in the steps of the Trump administration and sanction top Venezuelan government officials ahead of a controversial election on Sunday that could turn President Nicolas Maduro’s rule into a dictatorship. Ottawa is still reviewing the United States’ decision to sanction 13 current and former Venezuelan government officials on Wednesday. The White House’s move was an attempt to discourage Sunday’s election, which will select members for a new constituent assembly that would redraft Venezuela’s constitution and could disband the existing, opposition-led Congress. (Globe and Mail)

US imposes sanctions on Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro

The US government has frozen any assets held by Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro in the US, after he held a controversial poll. Under the sanctions, US firms and individuals are banned from doing business with him. The election of a constituent assembly on Sunday was held amid mass protests. At least 10 people were killed. (BBC)

Top Venezuelan opposition leaders taken into custody amid fears of wider crackdowns

Masked security forces staged middle-of-night raids Tuesday to haul away two leading Venezuelan opposition leaders already under house arrest, possibly signaling an expanded crackdown on dissent after widely denounced elections to boost the authoritian government. The moves against Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma could intensify the international fallout after Sunday’s election that created a new super congress stocked with backers of the government of President Nicolás Maduro. (Washington Post)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Liberals try to assuage fears ahead of possible free trade deal with China, documents show

Canada's Liberal government is reaching out to calm fears about a potential free trade deal with China as it continues exploratory talks with the Asian superpower, documents show. The documents, provided by Global Affairs Canada after an Access to Information request, show the government is confronting long-standing concerns from business and other stakeholders, including issues related to intellectual property rights, transparency, the bulk sale of water and human rights. (CBC)

This lawyer gave the Liberals more than $1,800 — then he became a judge

A Toronto lawyer who was recently appointed a Superior Court judge donated more than $1,800 to the governing federal Liberal party in the months before he was named to the bench, a string of giving that included the purchase of a ticket to fundraising dinner. Between March 2016 and March 2017, Andrew Sanfilippo gave $1,878.87 to the Liberal party. The founding partner at the downtown law firm O’Donnell, Robertson & Sanfilippo became a judge in late June and the government announced his appointment July 18. (Toronto Star)

Indigenous advocates slam Trudeau for comments about Patrick Brazeau

Indigenous advocates are denouncing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent comments about Senator Patrick Brazeau in Rolling Stone magazine, saying his remarks could damage the Liberal government’s relationship with aboriginal people. In the U.S. magazine’s August cover story, which asks “Why Can’t He Be Our President?,” Mr. Trudeau describes his surprise victory in a 2012 charity boxing match against Mr. Brazeau, a former Conservative who hails from the Kitigan Zibi First Nation in Quebec. (Globe and Mail)

This politician wants Canada to cut funding to the Clinton Foundation to appease Trump

A controversial Member of Parliament says a $20 million grant from the Canadian government to a reproductive health initiative in Nigeria is “needlessly provocative” because it is being run by the Clinton Foundation. Cheryl Gallant, a Conservative MP with a track record of outlandish remarks, made the comments in a video released on Monday. (VICE)

Province searching for 'rural immigration agents'

The province is hoping to recruit "rural immigration agents" who will work to attract immigrants to live in rural P.E.I. The agents will work together with the recently announced regional economic councils — advisory councils tasked with improving the economy and increasing the population in communities across the Island. (CBC)

Census data on languages show tip of stats iceberg about Canada's diversity

Reis Pagtakhan emphasizes the plural when he talks about the Filipino grocery stores, restaurants, newspapers and radio programs that now populate Winnipeg, decades after his family first came to the city. This week, Pagtakhan’s observations about the rise of Tagalog in Winnipeg are expected to get some statistical backing when the latest tranche of census data details Canada’s linguistic diversity. It is anticipated that the language heard in those Filipino stores and restaurants and on radio shows — Tagalog — will be among the fastest-growing since 2011. (Winnipeg Sun)

Ex-auditor general of Pakistan jailed for concealing his Canadian citizenship

Akhtar Buland Rana, a former auditor general of Pakistan, was jailed this week for concealing the fact that he is a Canadian. According to Pakistani media, Rana was handed a six-month prison sentence after it was found that he had deliberately concealed his Canadian identity while obtaining multiple Pakistani passports. (National Post)

Syrian newcomers add another layer to Canadian food identity

Down the shaded path from a bustling public pool in downtown Toronto stands a row of shipping containers. Among the sounds of shrieks and splashes in the water, a soft voice singing in Arabic floats through the air. The smell of sunscreen and chlorine is punctuated by whiffs of cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. (Globe and Mail)

Burundians desperate to escape violence of their homeland find sanctuary in Canada

In the days since six Burundian students slipped away from a robotics competition in Washington, D.C. — with at least two of them making their way across the border to Canada — many have questioned what propelled the teenagers to avoid returning home. (Montreal Gazette)

Anthony Scaramucci sacked as Trump media chief

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci has been fired after fewer than 10 days in the post. The former Wall Street financier had drawn criticism after calling a reporter to give a profanity-laced tirade against his own colleagues. President Donald Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and spokesman, Sean Spicer, both left their posts after Mr Scaramucci's appointment. (BBC)

John Kelly, Trump's New Chief Of Staff, Seen As Friend Of Trudeau Government

Gen. John Kelly's appointment as U.S. President Donald Trump's new White House chief of staff was greeted warmly Monday by the Trudeau government, which believes it has built a strong relationship with the former Homeland Security secretary. Kelly, a retired general who was described as "an adult in the room," "well-informed," and "responsible," by Canadians who've worked with him, signalled discipline was coming to the White House as controversial, foul-mouthed communications director Anthony Scaramucci was let go. (Huffington Post)

'The world's not safe': Chinese President Xi Jinping tells his troops 'a strong army is needed now more than ever' as he shows off new missile launcher in huge military parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told his troops 'a strong army is needed now more than ever' during a huge military parade. XI, wearing military clothing, warned the 'world isn't safe at this moment' as he watched the display at Zhurihe Training Base in China's remote Inner Mongolia region. (Daily Mail)

Trump's loyal soldier: President's new chief of staff John Kelly will bring military rigor to the White House after losing his marine son in Afghanistan and leading US forces in Iraq

Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly is a battle-hardened commander who would bring a background of military discipline and order to President Donald Trump's roiling White House as the new chief of staff. Kelly's experience as Homeland Security secretary and a veteran of three tours in Iraq - along with a sobering family tragedy - suggests he'll be a loyal manager for Trump when he starts the job Monday. (Daily Mail)

US detects 'highly unusual' North Korean submarine activity

The US military has detected "highly unusual and unprecedented levels" of North Korean submarine activity and evidence of an "ejection test" in the days following Pyongyang's second intercontinental ballistic missile launch this month, a defense official told CNN on Monday. (CNN)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Lorrie Goldstein: Pseudo Tories are Tories’ biggest problem

The greatest threat to the future of the Conservative Party of Canada doesn’t come from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. Nor from the NDP, no matter who their next leader is. It comes from Conservatives who want to be Liberals. Some call themselves “Red Tories,” others “self-loathing” Conservatives, still others, ahem, Conservative “strategists (Toronto Sun)

Michael Byers: After Saudi video, Canada has a choice to make on human rights

The government of Justin Trudeau has played it both ways on foreign policy, speaking grandly about human rights while chasing economic opportunities with autocratic regimes. But now, with videos apparently showing Canadian-made armoured vehicles being used to crush civilian protests in Saudi Arabia, it has to make a choice. Does the government really care about human rights? Or do economic interests have priority? (Globe and Mail)

Terence Corcoran: Al Gore warns us to watch out for manipulative fearmongers — like him

Not many people remember Al Gore’s 2007 book, The Assault on Reason. It came out a year after Gore’s 2006 movie/book combo, An Inconvenient Truth. It’s hard to pick up the 2007 effort without a chuckle. As one reviewer put it at the time, Assault on Reason is “an aptly titled tome” that accurately reflects its contents. Then there’s the book jacket that talks about the “politics of fear” and an opening chapter that warns: “If leaders exploit public fears to herd people in directions they might not otherwise choose, then fear itself can quickly become a self-perpetuating and free-wheeling force that drains national will and weakens national character.” (Financial Post)

Christie Blatchford: The danger to individual Canadians who won't toe the party line

How comforting it is to return from holidays (and a self-imposed news blackout) and see that Canadian police are still vigorously pursuing those worst of criminals. By this, of course, I mean those rare citizens who say outrageous things (alright, some of them shriek them) and try in a sometimes clumsy way to shake up the complacent tenor of Canadian public life, what my Post colleague Conrad Black recently described as being all about studious “conflict avoidance, homogenization, washing out differences, avoiding judgments…” and generally just getting along. (National Post)

Ezra Levant: UK police to crackdown on “right wingers” — not Islamic terrorists

Remember the UK’s Bedfordshire Police? That’s the department that raided Tommy Robinson’s home at 4am, to arrest him for the high crime of doing a 45-second selfie video from the courthouse where a Muslim rape gang was on trial. Well, the Bedfordshire Police just sent out a tweet that I thought it was a joke, but it’s real. (Rebel)

Jay Fayza: Inside Venezuela's Orwellian nightmare: Gunshots and Explosions

Venezuela has become one of the most dangerous places in the world, thanks to a Marxist dictatorship that has ruined the nation's economy and democratic system. Since Hugo Chavez became President of Venezuela in 1999, his party has implemented a form of socialism funded by profits from oil exports. (Rebel)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       N/A