True North Initiative: News Scan 09 18 17

TOP STORIES

Number of asylum-seekers crossing into Quebec doubled in August

The number of asylum-seekers crossing into Quebec from the U.S. doubled in August, even as Ottawa attempts to play down the crisis. Although the official count won’t come out until next week, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office confirmed on Friday the August number for Quebec alone is estimated at 6,000, twice the 2,996 people intercepted by the RCMP in July. Most are Haitians. The new number pushes the total refugee claimants toward the 40,000 mark with four months left in 2017. That’s a big increase; by comparison, Canada received 23,920 asylum-seekers in all of last year. (Toronto Star) (Reuters)

From Canada to al-Qaeda: New York trial provides a window into Winnipeg’s ‘Lost Boys’

The trio – dubbed the "Lost Boys" of Winnipeg – travelled to the tribal areas of Pakistan to join al-Qaeda, prosecutors say, in a case that prompted concern at the highest levels of the U.S. and Canadian governments. Now, details of their mysterious disappearance that have never been made public are being released as part of a trial under way in New York. At the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, one member of the Winnipeg trio, Muhanad al-Farekh, is facing federal terrorism charges after being captured in Pakistan in 2014. The trial is shedding light on some of the enduring questions in the case, including how three university students allegedly became enthralled by jihadi ideology and decided to leave behind their lives in Canada. (Globe and Mail)

Investigators stumbled on bomb recipe, terror trial of Montreal couple hears

Keven Chartrand, who is with the RCMP and is a member of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) testifying at the trial of Sabrine Djermane, 21, and El Mahdi Jamali, 20, on Friday said he and other investigators were told to look for computers, smartphones and documents when they searched the condo on Aird Ave. INSET was investigating concerns expressed by the couple’s relatives and friends that they were about to leave for Syria to join the terrorist group ISIL. (Montreal Gazette)

RCMP shelved hundreds of organized-crime cases after terror attacks

The RCMP sidelined more than 300 investigations, mostly into organized-crime, as it redirected more than $100-million to its national-security squads after two Canadian soldiers were killed by Islamic State sympathizers. The figures come from government records obtained by The Globe and Mail under Access to Information laws and speak to how big of a bite the force's counterterrorism contingent has been taking out of its traditional law-enforcement work. (Globe and Mail)

8 sentenced in New Can Consultants immigration fraud case affecting over 1,600 clients

​Three employees and one client associated with New Can Consultants have been sentenced for immigration and tax fraud in B.C., bringing the total number of people sentenced in the largest immigration fraud case in the province to eight. More than 770 of the company's 1,600 clients have now lost their permanent residency or citizenship status or face inadmissibility hearings according to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). On Sept. 12, CBSA says employee Zheng Wen "Vicky" Ye was sentenced to pay $94,532 in fines and received a conditional sentence of two years less as day. (CBC)

Canadian government gives additional $2.5M to help Bangladesh cope with Rohingya refugees

Canada is giving extra money to help Bangladesh cope with the influx of Rohingya Muslims fleeing neighbouring Myanmar. The additional $2.55 million is aimed at helping provide care for women, new mothers and children under five, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a statement. So far this year, Canada has committed to $6.63 million in humanitarian assistance funding to aid partners in Myanmar and Bangladesh to help conflict-affected people, including the Rohingya. (National Post)

North Korea, Rohingya to dominate UN world leaders summit

Facing an escalating nuclear threat from North Korea and the mass flight of minority Muslims from Myanmar, world leaders gather at the United Nations starting Monday to tackle these and other tough challenges — from the spread of terrorism to a warming planet. The spotlight will be on U.S. President Donald Trump and France's new leader, Emmanuel Macron, who will both be making their first appearance at the General Assembly. They will be joined by more than 100 heads of state and government, including Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders who is said to be bringing a 70-member entourage. (CBC) (Global)

Liberals Plan To Use Time Allocation To Clamp Down Debate In Commons

Opposition parties are warning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government to brace for a fight this fall if bills are pushed through the Commons without their consent. HuffPost Canada has learned that the Liberals plan to use a procedural tool known as "time allocation" when the House returns Monday. The Grits have had trouble getting their legislation through the Parliament quickly and as the government approaches its two-year mark, it wants to regain control of the House agenda. (Huffington Post)

Controversial House of Commons study on Islamophobia set to begin Monday

Phase two begins this week in the House of Commons’ politically charged debate over combating Islamophobia in Canada. On Monday, the heritage committee starts a study on systemic racism and religious discrimination in Canada mandated as part of a motion condemning Islamophobia that passed last spring. (National Post)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

'Fear is the greatest factor:' Survey finds Canadians worry about rise of racism

A survey suggests Canadians have a generally positive impression of Muslims but that view doesn't apply to some of the religion's leadership and beliefs. The poll, commissioned by Think for Actions and Insights Matter, found 78 per cent of Canadians agreed Muslims should adopt Canadian customs and values but maintain their religious and cultural practices. Some 88 per cent of those surveyed said Muslims should be treated no differently than any other Canadian. (Yahoo)

New passport processing system $75M over budget

Another government IT project is going off the rails, this one intended to issue Canadian passports faster and cheaper than the current system. The so-called Passport Program Modernization Initiative, launched in 2014, is at least $75 million over budget and well behind schedule. "From its outset, the complexity … was underestimated," says an internal document, explaining a series of setbacks to the ambitious plan. (Yahoo)

Canada's immigration minister tackles range of issues at Brampton town hall

“We can’t fix everything in the immigration system immediately. It takes time,” federal immigration minister Ahmed Hussen told a crowd of more than 150 gathered at Century Gardens Recreation Centre. Hosted by local MPs, the town hall offered participants a chance to direct questions on a range of concerns, from family and spousal reunification, immigration processing times, rights for undocumented workers and Canada’s role in aiding refugees and displaced peoples. More than 200 questions were submitted to organizers prior to the start of the event. Hussen arrived late and managed to anger the crowd after abruptly leaving the discussion after roughly an hour with dozens of people still waiting to get answers directly from the minister. (Brampton Guardian) (680 News)

As Nova Scotia tries to lure immigrants, feds 'scuttle' German family's plans

A German woman's attempt to immigrate to Cape Breton with her family has been blocked by a Canadian visa officer, a situation her lawyer says runs counter to Nova Scotia's efforts to draw newcomers to the region. Anne-Eva Lober moved to Cape Breton with her husband and two teenage daughters in August 2016. They purchased a home and a car, and Lober obtained a job as a continuing-care assistant.  But within a year, the family were back in Germany after they were told to leave Canada by the federal government (CBC)

Doctors angry at opposition to planned tax changes urge Ottawa to forge ahead

Doctors across Canada who support Finance Minister Bill Morneau's proposed tax reforms say they want their voices to be heard above the din of criticism from colleagues and medical societies. To make their point, they have been putting signatures on a letter they plan to send to Morneau this week. (CTV)

Liberals’ small business tax changes have Canadians wondering about their motives: Ipsos poll

The Liberals’ proposed tax changes for small business have landed them in hot water with professionals such as doctors and farmers. But how does the rest of the country feel about the issue? According to a new Ipsos poll for Global News, the public is evenly divided on whether or not they support the changes, which includes eliminating income sprinkling. (Global)

Canadian special forces out of Mosul, preparing for new battle in Iraq

Canadian special forces have left the city of Mosul and are now backing up Iraqi forces as they prepare to assault one of the Islamic State group's last strongholds in the country. The move comes amid growing friction between the various local groups facing off against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and warnings that despite its battlefield victories, the international community has a lot more work to do in Iraq. (CTV)

Increasingly, foreign students are choosing Canada over US

The increase is not all because of Trump. Canada has made international student recruitment a national goal to spur economic growth. It now has 353,000 international students and wants 450,000 by 2022. But the political uncertainty in the United States — as well as in the United Kingdom — has given Canada’s effort an unexpected boost. (Boston Globe)

India the new frontier for U of Regina student recruitment

If you walk through the halls of the University of Regina, nearly one in seven students you pass will be from a country other than Canada. Each of those international students pays three times the tuition a student from Saskatchewan pays, which translates into approximately $24.5 million a year for the university — more than 10 per cent of its total $216-million operating budget. (CBC)

Emergency fundraisers held in GTA for Rohingya muslim refugees

Muslim communities across the GTA came together this weekend for two emergency fundraisers in Markham and Mississauga, raising money to deliver life-saving aid to nearly 400,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing the violence in Myanmar. Their homes were burned to the ground with some calling the actions of the Buddhist-majority government “ethnic cleansing.” (City News)

Bangladesh restricts movement of Rohingya refugees

Bangladeshi authorities are taking steps to restrict the movement of Muslim Rohingya refugees living in crowded border camps after fleeing violence in Myanmar, whose military chief maintains that the chaos was the work of extremists seeking a stronghold in the country. Bangladesh has been overwhelmed with more than 400,000 Rohingya who fled their homes in the last three weeks amid a crisis the UN describes as ethnic cleansing. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who lambasted Myanmar for "atrocities" during a visit to border camps last week, left Dhaka to address the annual UN gathering in New York. (CTV)

Rohingya refugees' access to food, water an increasing concern

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh could die due to a lack of food, shelter and water, given the huge numbers fleeing violence in Myanmar, an aid agency warned on Sunday, as authorities began moving people to camps to streamline the distribution of help. Nearly 410,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority fled from Myanmar's western Rakhine state to Bangladesh to escape a military offensive that the United Nations has branded a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing." (CBC)

Chicago judge blocks Sessions' sanctuary city funds order

A federal judge in Chicago has blocked an order requiring cities to fully cooperate with immigration officials or risk losing some federal funding. The ruling is a fresh blow to US President Donald Trump, who has promised to end illegal immigration and so-called "sanctuary cities". The judge said it was likely Attorney General Jeff Sessions had overstepped his authority with the order. (BBC)

Antifa Professor in NYC Placed on Administrative Leave After Anti-Cop Tweets

A NYC professor has been placed on administrative leave after several shocking anti-cop tweets came to light, prompting the city's largest police union to call for his firing. Professor Michael Isaacson, who teaches, ironically, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, tweeted last month that “it’s a privilege to teach future dead cops.” (PJ Media)

France: Acid attack on 4 U.S. tourists not seen as terror act

Four American college students were attacked with acid Sunday at a train station in France, but French authorities so far do not think extremist views motivated the 41-year-old woman who was arrested as the alleged assailant, the local prosecutor’s office and the students’ school said. Boston College, a private Jesuit university in Massachusetts, said in a statement Sunday that the four female students were treated at a hospital for burns after they were sprayed in the face with acid in the city of Marseille. The statement said the four all were juniors studying abroad, three of them at the college’s Paris program. (Toronto Sun)

U.K. Police make ‘significant’ arrest of 18-year-old suspect in London train bombing

British police made a “significant” arrest in the urgent manhunt for suspects a day after the London subway blast that injured more than two dozen people, authorities said Saturday. Police said that an 18-year-old man was arrested by Kent police in the port of Dover on the English Channel. He is being questioned under the Terrorism Act. Dover is a major ferry port for travel between Britain and France. (Global)

U.K. lowers terrorist threat level following arrest of 2nd man in connection with London subway attack

British police made progress Sunday in their investigation of the bomb that partially exploded on a packed London subway, leading counter-terrorism officials to lower the country’s threat level because a fresh attack no longer was judged to be imminent. Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the downgraded terror threat level hours after London police said a second suspect was in custody and a second property was being searched in connection with Friday’s attack that injured 30 people. (National Post)

Party-loving Syrian refugee nightclub promoter 'is second man arrested over Parsons Green Tube attack'

The second man arrested in connection with the Parsons Green Tube attack is a party-loving Syrian refugee who worked as a nightclub promoter. Yahyah Farroukh, a 21-year-old refugee and former foster child, is registered as living at the address in Stanwell where police today conducted a search. (Mirror)

U.S. intelligence checking dead ISIS fighters' laptops, phones

U.S. intelligence analysts have gained valuable insights into the Islamic State's planning and personnel from a vast cache of digital data and other material recovered from bombed-out offices, abandoned laptops and the cellphones of dead fighters in recently liberated areas of Iraq and Syria. In the most dramatic gain, U.S. officials over the last two months have added thousands of names of known or suspected Islamic State operatives to an international watch list used at airports and other border crossings. The Interpol database now contains about 19,000 names. (NY Daily News)

Aid officials in Iraq concerned about fate of wives, children of ISIS fighters

Aid officials in Iraq said they were “gravely concerned” about the fate of about 1,400 foreign wives and children of suspected Islamic State militants relocated by Iraqi authorities, who did not warn aid organizations. The families had been held by Iraqi authorities since Aug. 30 in the Hammam al-Alil transit camp, south of Mosul. (Yahoo)

N.Korea seeks 'equilibrium' of military force with US: KCNA

North Korea is seeking an "equilibrium" of military force with the United States, state media reported Saturday, after Pyongyang sparked global condemnation with a sixth nuclear test then fired a second missile over Japan in less than a month. The North's leader Kim Jong-Un said the country was close to the goal of completing their nuclear force and should use all state power to finish as they have "nearly reached the terminal", the official KCNA news agency reported. (Yahoo)

Christian Sentenced To Death For Insulting Islam Over Text Message

Pakistani officials sentenced a Christian man to death on Thursday for a poem he supposedly sent to a Muslim friend on WhatsApp, which insulted Islam. Authorities in Pakistan arrested Nadeem James, 35, in July for committing “blasphemy” by texting a poem to a friend that was derogatory toward Mohammed. (Daily Wire)

US may close Cuba embassy after 'attacks' on diplomats

The United States may again close its embassy in Cuba, which reopened two years ago after a half-century stand-off, following a series of mystery "health attacks" on its diplomats, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday. At least 21 members of the US mission in Havana and a smaller number of Canadians have suffered brain injuries and hearing loss in what have been reported as "acoustic attacks", although US officials say their origin remains unclear. (Yahoo)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Brainwashed jihadists? No, they know exactly what they're doing

Canada is a “filthy place” – this, according to a handwritten letter sent by a Canadian al-Qaeda agent to his family back in Canada. Once a University of Manitoba engineering student, Maiwand Yar left in 2007 and mailed the letter from a terrorist outpost in Pakistan. The letter recently became public, and is being used as evidence in the American trial of Yar’s friend and former classmate, Muhanad al-Farekh, who is facing terrorism charges after being captured in Pakistan. In the letter, Yar urges his family to leave Canada and instructs them to stop watching Hollywood movies and North American news stations — “nothing but lies”— and to avoid Western fashion and Canadian public schools. (Toronto Sun)

Anthony Furey: Why I’m placing my bets on a Kathleen Wynne victory

If we had the sort of elaborate betting infrastructure the punters in England and Las Vegas enjoy, I’d put a few hundred on Kathleen Wynne emerging victorious in the next Ontario election. Yes, I’m serious, because what an immense pay-out you’d get from such a contrarian bet. Sure, it goes against conventional wisdom. After all, she hit 12% in the polls recently. They say Donald Trump is against the ropes, yet he clocks in at three times Wynne’s numbers! (Toronto Sun)

Lorrie Goldstein: Carbon tax gouged Ontarians out of $1.5B so far in 2017

Did you know Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government has taken $1.5 billion extra out of our pockets since the start of this year? By “extra” I mean money her government wasn’t taking from us in 2016, from all sources of government revenue. This $1.5 billion extra — $1,501,908,017 to be precise — comes from Ontario’s new cap and trade carbon pricing scheme. (Toronto Sun)

Toronto Sun: How Canada can lead on North Korea issue

We learned two interesting pieces of information from Thursday’s national defence committee hearings on Parliament Hill looking into North Korea. One was very bad news, the other was somewhat good. (Toronto Sun)

Guidy Mamann: Trump alone not to blame for immigration mess

Even President Donald Trump’s staunchest critics cannot blame him for the fact an estimated 12 million men, women and children are living illegally and precariously in the United States. This population has been growing unabated for decades under Republican and Democratic administrations. Both parties recognize that immigrants are supposed to be chosen by the state and shouldn’t be self-selecting. Nonetheless, both parties have failed to pursue comprehensive immigration reform that would dictate who gets to stay and who must go. No president has taken sufficient steps to secure the American border to stop the flow. Deportations are constantly being outpaced by new arrivals. (Toronto Sun)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs meets on Thursday September 21 to study the Situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia 25 Years after the End of the Cold War (In Camera)