True North Initiative: News Scan 08 31 17

TOP STORIES

Asylum seekers begin receiving welfare cheques

There were long lineups at temporary shelters on Wednesday as 3,000 welfare cheques were handed out to asylum seekers. Additional cheques went out by mail to those asylum seekers who have already found homes. The government aid, roughly $650 for single people and around $1200 for a family of four, is meant as temporary support until refugee claimants can get on their feet. (CTV)

Migrant camps at Lacolle currently empty, CBSA confirms

The army tents being used as temporary shelters for hundreds of asylum seekers are vacant for the time being. According to the Canada Border Services Agency, what was a tide of asylum seekers at the Lacolle border has slowed considerably. The number people crossing over illegally from the U.S. is down to between 50 and 100 per day – half of what it was only a few weeks ago. (CTV)

PQ leader still insists Trudeau responsible for influx of refugees

Jean-François Lisée, the leader of the Parti Québécois, is doubling down on his comments about the prime minister and would-be refugees despite criticism from high-ranking members of his own party. Lisée said Monday the federal government should pay for the costs of taking care of thousands of asylum seekers who have crossed into Quebec from the United States since June. (CBC)

Omar Khadr back in court to seek right to unsupervised visits with sister

The case of former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr will be back in an Edmonton courtroom on Thursday, where he will seek to ease his bail conditions, including a prohibition on contacting his controversial older sister.  "Mr. Khadr has been living under these conditions for a number of years and he's demonstrated quite clearly that he's not a threat of any kind to the community," Khadr's lawyer, Nate Whitling, said Wednesday. (CBC) (Global)

If Trump triggers a withdrawal from NAFTA, we walk: Mexico

If Donald Trump attempts the proverbial gun-to-the-temple negotiating strategy on NAFTA, how should America’s neighbours respond: Keep sitting there, or walk away from the bargaining table? It’s a question the other North American countries are grappling with. (National Post)

Language training a key barrier for refugees in Surrey

It’s been almost a year since Surrey opened its Refugee and Immigrant Welcome Centre, and the facility has already welcomed nearly 200 families. And while newcomers are facing a multitude of challenges, including finding work and an affordable place to live, one issue looms above the rest: learning English. (Global)

Canadian police tracked a Black Lives Matter vigil in Vancouver

According to a cache of intelligence reports obtained by VICE News through Canada’s Access to Information Act, the federal policing agency not only surveilled the social media accounts of Black Lives Matter Vancouver and its members, but pursued intelligence from the US State Department on hate groups calling for police killings and their links to Canada. (VICE)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Haitian asylum seekers trigger soul searching over Canada's immigration policy

The Haitian migrants in Cornwall, Ontario - just across the St. Lawrence River from Massena - are expected to be gone by the end of the week. Officials say they'll join thousands of others in Montreal awaiting their requests for asylum. The process could take weeks or months before they know whether they'll be able to stay in Canada. Most of the Haitians crossed illegally into Canada at the end of a road just north of Plattsburgh. The migration started in early August after U.S. officials said temporary protected status for Haitian earthquake victims from 2010 is set to expire soon. (NCPR)

Quebec City mosque in shock after president's car set on fire

Quebec City's Muslim community is in shock after someone burned down the car belonging to the head of a mosque targeted by an act of terror in January. Police believe the fire was deliberately set and they are investigating. The incident happened at around 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 6, 2017. This was about 36 hours after Quebec City announced it would sell some land to the mosque, the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, to create the region's first Muslim-only cemetery. (National Observer)

Andrew Scheer unveils Conservative shadow cabinet

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has unveiled his new shadow cabinet, naming a number of his former leadership competitors to high-profile portfolios like foreign affairs, veterans affairs and infrastructure. Maxime Bernier, who nearly bested Scheer in late May after a lengthy and sometimes acrimonious leadership race, will become the party’s critic for innovation, science and economic development. (Global) (CBC)

Conservative MP Gerry Ritz set to announce his resignation: sources

Long-time Conservative MP Gerry Ritz is expected to announce he’s leaving federal politics, sources tell CTV News. Ritz’s office confirmed he is making an announcement about the future of his political career tomorrow. Ritz has been the MP for Battlefords-Lloydminster, Sask., for 20 years. His office would not comment on the nature of the announcement, but said Ritz will have more to say Thursday morning. (CTV)

Anger over controversial Liberal tax proposals to be focus at caucus retreat

Liberal backbenchers have been getting an earful this summer from small business owners outraged by the Trudeau government's proposals to end what it calls "unfair tax advantages." And now they're preparing to unleash the concerns of their constituents — and pressure Finance Minister Bill Morneau to adjust his plans accordingly — during the government's summer caucus retreat next week in Kelowna, B.C. (CBC)

'Canada could do better': United Nations takes us to task on racism

That's the message of a review by a United Nations committee, which has a slate of almost 70 recommendations on everything from migrant worker rights to preventing racial profiling. A coalition of non-profits based in the GTA, including the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and the African Canadian Legal Clinic, were in Geneva in mid-August to present to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The committee adopted many of their suggestions. (Metro)

U.S. Gives Military Assistance to Pakistan, With Strings Attached

The Trump administration notified Congress on Wednesday that it was putting $255 million in military assistance to Pakistan into the equivalent of an escrow account that Islamabad can only access if it does more to crack down on internal terror networks launching attacks on neighboring Afghanistan. (NY Times)

North Korea: US 'never out of diplomatic solutions'

US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said the US is "never out of diplomatic solutions" in dealing with North Korea. It comes after President Donald Trump tweeted that "talking is not the answer" to the country's military ambitions. Russia has also warned the US against taking military action, saying it would be "fraught with unpredictable consequences". (BBC)

‘Hope Is Gone’ for Venezuelan Opposition

Wuilly Arteaga became a symbol of Venezuela’s protest movement as he played patriotic hymns from his violin in the face of tear gas and rubber bullets. Then he was arrested and beaten. When the 23-year-old was released after three weeks, he was stunned to find the protest movement had died and President Nicolás Maduro in greater control than ever. (WSJ)

Explosions, black smoke reported at flooded chemical plant outside Houston

A Houston-area chemical plant that lost power after Harvey engulfed the area in extensive floods was rocked by two explosions early Thursday, the plant’s operator said. Arkema Inc. said in a statement on its website that the Harris County Emergency Operations Center reported two explosions and black smoke coming from the plant at about 2 a.m. (Global)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Undeserved praise for Antifa’s thugs

The tables have turned for a group of masked anarchists who claim to be protecting our society from the threat of a fascist takeover. They call themselves “Antifa” — short for anti-fascists — and they’ve been showing up at rallies and forming counter-protests to stop right-wing groups across North America. Far from vigilante heroes, however, Antifa has been exposed as a mob of violent and radical leftists who attack anyone who gets in their way. (Toronto Sun)

Anthony Furey: If a judge can’t wear a MAGA hat, a public servant shouldn’t wear a niqab

Regardless of one’s politics, pretty much everyone agrees that Justice Bernd Zabel shouldn’t have worn a Make America Great Again hat in his Hamilton, Ontario courtroom the day after the U.S. presidential election. Last week, Zabel faced a disciplinary panel to answer for his unofficial wardrobe choice. (Toronto Sun)

Ezra Levant: CBC plays down latest Antifa violence at UC Berkeley

The violence was so one-sided that evem left-wing news outlets like The Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle reported on Antifa's unprovoked assault, but Canada's state broadcaster initiated a cover-up. (Rebel)

Lorrie Goldstein: Small business owners betrayed by Trudeau

If Justin Trudeau believes a huge swath of Canada’s 3.5 million small businesses have been evading taxes, why did he promise to cut their tax rate from 11% to 9% over four years, in the 2015 election? Of course, he’s already broken that promise - which he made verbally and in writing. (Toronto Sun)

Mark Bonokoski: The non-exile of Liberal MP Darshan Kang, alleged sexual harasser

In a world sugar-saturated in political correctness, it is difficult to condemn Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for deciding not to boot Liberal MP Darshan Kang from caucus in the wake of sexual-harassment allegations that purportedly involve $100,000 in hush money. It is difficult for two reasons. (Toronto Sun)

Campbell Clark: Scheer’s snub of Leitch speaks volumes about Conservative strategy

There goes Kellie Leitch, who tried to climb the greasy pole of political leadership by pandering to anti-Muslim fears but instead slid to the bottom of the Conservative Party heap. New leader Andrew Scheer, faced with the choice of which of 35 shadow-cabinet roles to give to Ms. Leitch, gave her nothing. (Globe and Mail)

Peter Goodspeed: Canada must stand up for suffering Rohingya

As former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan prepared last Thursday to release a year-long study on the ethnic turmoil that has plagued Burma’s northwestern Rakhine state, Burma’s military was already stepping up preparations for new “clearance operations” against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. For two months, Burma’s military had been increasing troop levels in Rakhine state and had reportedly armed radical Buddhist militias that demand the expulsion of the Rohingya. (Toronto Star)

Rosie Dimanno: NDPers tying themselves in knots to defend the niqab

There is no Muslim religious commandment compelling adult females to cover their faces, though it’s the law of the land in ultra-patriarchal regimes such as Saudi Arabia. Intriguing then — and distressing to many of us — that Singh, the apparent front-runner for leadership of the federal NDP, has wrapped the vile niqab in a chimera of charter rights and freedoms and Quebec human rights law. (Toronto Star)

Andrew Coyne: With 'shadow cabinet,' Andrew Scheer puts a softer face on Conservatives

For all their efforts to play up the term “shadow cabinet” — it is not actually all that unusual in Canadian politics — there is no necessary correlation between the front-bench team the federal Conservatives unveiled Wednesday and the one that would govern should the party be elected in 2019. Times change, people retire, are demoted or defeated, while others are promoted or arrive with the next election. (National Post)

John Ivison: Scheer and Poilievre to debut bon cop/bad cop double act

Canadians appear to regard the prospect of Andrew Scheer as prime minister with the same incredulity audiences at the premiere of Conan the Barbarian might have greeted the news they were watching the future governor of California. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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