True North Initiative: News Scan 09 28 17

TOP STORIES

Border agency reports big drop in number of long-term detainees

The number of people being held for more than 90 days in immigration detention centres has declined by almost a third this year over last year, according to statistics from the Canada Border Services Agency. The figures show that the number of detainees being held for three months or longer dropped by 29.9 per cent in 2016-17 compared with 2015-16. They also show a decline since 2012-13 of 35.3 per cent. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) told CBC News that it is using federal funding announced last year to expand the use of alternatives to detention. (CBC)

Liberals working on apology for 1939 decision to refuse ship of Jewish refugees

The federal Liberals are working on an apology for the Canadian government’s decision in 1939 to turn away a boat of German Jews hoping to seek asylum in Canada, The Canadian Press has learned. Some wanted the apology for the MS St. Louis to come in concert with Wednesday’s inauguration of the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made only passing reference to the incident in his speech marking the occasion. From the monument, Trudeau noted, it is possible to see the Peace Tower. But that’s also a reminder that Canada has not always been a welcoming nation. (IPolitics) (JPost)

Trudeau spent almost $1.5 million advertising for Refugees and Immigration

The documents cover the period between November 4, 2015, when the current cabinet was sworn into office, and May 10, 2017. It includes 58 federal departments, Crown corporations, and government agencies. They do not cover the Royal Canadian Mint, which declined to share data on the grounds that “the information is considered financially and competitively sensitive,” or the Canada Post Corporation, which cited confidentiality. Both admit to using sponsored social media posts. (Debate Report)

Gatineau man who tried to join ISIS gets 9 months for threatening ex-girlfriend

A Gatineau man convicted of terror-related offences will serve nine months in jail for threatening his former girlfriend. In June, Ismael Habib was found guilty of three of four charges involving his former girlfriend in a case unrelated to the terrorism charges. The court found he had psychologically harassed her, forced her to wear a hijab and quit her job and threatened to kill her if she reported anything to police. (CBC) (Ottawa Citizen)

Audit of B.C. mosque charity alleges personal spending, ‘relationship’ with Qatar group accused of supporting terror

A charity that runs a Vancouver-area mosque has been penalized by federal regulators after an audit found its former president and imam spent tens of thousands of dollars on personal purchases including a spa, jewelry, video games and hair dye. The Canada Revenue Agency audit of the Islamic Society of British Columbia also alleged the charity was “controlled or influenced” by a Qatar organization accused of supporting terrorism, although that did not result in a penalty. (Global) (Debate Report)

Canada’s access-to-information system has worsened under Trudeau government: report

Canada's access-to-information system has only gotten worse under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, and a new Liberal bill intended to fix the problems has "worrisome" elements, a new report has found. A freedom-of-information audit from News Media Canada, a national association representing the Canadian news media industry, gives the federal government a failing grade for timely disclosure of information. It also said its performance in this year's audit "was even worse than in the latter years of the former Stephen Harper government." (Globe and Mail)

Liberals blame Harper for their failing grade on Access to Info disclosure

The Liberals are blaming the previous Harper government for the failing grade they received in an independent audit of the Access to Information system, saying the Conservatives left behind a badly damaged system. The national freedom of information audit found the federal access system is bogged down to the point where, in many cases, it simply doesn't work. The annual audit focused on the federal access regime this year -- given Justin Trudeau's election campaign promises of increased transparency -- and concluded it is faring worse than in the latter years of the Conservative government. (CTV)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

German politician eyes Canadian solution after 'shock' of far-right breakthrough

Malu Dreyer has a blunt reaction to recent elections in Germany as it comes to grips with the "shock" of a far-right party's electoral breakthrough. Dreyer is president of Germany's Bundersrat, the upper house of the German parliament. She's also a Social Democrat. And she said she was caught off guard by the rise of the far-right at the ballot box. “Europe has quite a number of extreme right-wing parties, and Germany has always been proud of not having such a party,” said Dreyer. “We have learned from the Second World War, and so we really are in shock, that we were not able to avoid it [this time].” (National Observer)

B.C. firm developing tech startups in China accused of fraud, not paying employees

Ethan Sun, the charismatic founder of a Vancouver tech incubator called Istuary Innovation Group, has been pictured hobnobbing with political bigwigs like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former B.C. premier Christy Clark and former federal immigration minister Chris Alexander. Speaking in 2015 at a leadership summit hosted by the Canadian Association of Business Incubation, Sun gushed about Canada’s “innovation power,” admitting that he felt “a little bit nervous” over how “really fast” his company was growing. (National Post)

Border agency used expired warrant to justify jailing immigration detainee, court hears

The legitimacy of Canada Border Services Agency’s decision to send an immigration detainee to maximum-security jail — rather than a less-restrictive Immigration Holding Centre — was called into question Wednesday as the detainee’s lawyer challenged immigration officials to explain how the decision was made. Among the factors border agency investigator Dale Lewis listed as grounds to place Ebrahim Toure, who has never been charged or convicted of a crime in Canada, in a maximum-security provincial jail was the fact that he was a “fugitive of justice” because there was an outstanding U.S. warrant for his arrest. (Toronto Star)

Immigration drives P.E.I. population past 150,000

In fact, the government agency has adjusted previous estimates, and now shows the province hit that target at the end of 2016. The estimates show a population of 152,021 for the province on July 1 of this year. With 1.7 per cent growth from July 2016 to July 2017, P.E.I. was the fastest growing province in the country. Nationally, growth was 1.2 per cent. (CBC)

Canadian MBA programs take advantage of surging international applications

Canada's popularity as a destination for MBA studies took off this year, fuelled in part by anti-immigrant politics in the United States, according to new survey of applications to business schools worldwide. But Canadian officials warned that the jump in applications reported this month by the Graduate Management Admission Council leaves no room for complacency. (Globe and Mail)

Solidarity weekend planned in Peterborough in response to anti-illegal immigration rally

A network of community members and organizations will hold a solidarity weekend from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in Peterborough. The group says it’s committed to promoting love while ending white supremacy. (Global)

City of Peterborough grants permit to Neo-Nazis for a rally Saturday in public square

Peterborough councillor Diane Therrien says a Neo-Nazi should never have gotten permission to hold a rally on city property at Confederation Square, on Saturday. A group of self-proclaimed white nationalists is organizing an Anti-Trudeau/illegal immigration rally at Confederation Square on Saturday. Kevin Goudreau, chairman of the Canadian Nationalist Front, is organizing the event. (National Post)

Netflix to commit $500M over 5 years on new Canadian productions: sources

Internet streaming service Netflix will spend at least half a billion dollars over the next five years to fund original Canadian productions, CBC News has learned. The funding will officially be announced tomorrow by Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly as part of a speech unveiling her vision for Canadian content and cultural industries in the digital world. It comes after months of public consultations, which were held last year. (CBC)

Thwarted emergency debate on tax reforms not the not the end of the discussion

A Conservative bid for an emergency debate on the Liberal government's controversial small business tax proposal was thwarted Wednesday, but that does not mean they -- nor the public -- are out of options for sharing their views. "Parliament, and not the government, is the final authority on taxation," Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said as he called for a House of Commons debate on the proposed changes before consultations wrap up next week. (CTV)

HOMELAND SECURITY WANT TO COLLECT IMMIGRANTS’ SOCIAL MEDIA INFORMATION, BUT PRIVACY GROUPS ARE FIGHTING BACK

Privacy and freedom of expression groups have slammed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to monitor and collect social media information on all immigrants to the United States. The department published a new rule under the Privacy Act of 1974 in the Federal Register last week, detailing how it intends to expand the information it collects when determining a person’s immigration status to include social media handles and potentially even search histories. (Newsweek)

Many Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh without shelter, water: Oxfam Canada

Oxfam Canada says hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, who have been fleeing violence in Myanmar in recent weeks, are without shelter and clean water in flooded refugee camps. The international development agency says nearly 480,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh and more than 70 per cent are without adequate shelter, while half have no safe drinking water. (680)

ISRAELI INTEL TAKES GLOBAL APPROACH, HELPS THWART DOZENS OF TERROR ATTACKS

The defense establishment marks the November 2015 ISIS attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, as the day the intelligence community changed its perspective to a more global one and tightened its coordination with international bodies. (JPost)

Taliban claims deadly Afghan attack to coincide with James Mattis visit

The Taliban unleashed a barrage of rockets at the Kabul international airport on Wednesday in a brazen attack that the insurgents said targeted the plane of visiting U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis. In response, the U.S. said it launched two missiles, one of which missed its intended target and killed at least one Afghan civilian. Afghan officials said one Afghan woman was killed and 11 civilians were wounded in the Taliban attack. Afghan special forces managed to repel the attackers, killing four in an ensuing gun battle, officials said. (CBC)

Michelle Obama scolds female Trump voters

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama has lashed out at female voters who backed President Donald Trump. "Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice," she said. Mrs Obama, who has stayed largely out of the political fray since leaving the White House, made the remark at a Boston conference. (BBC)

FBI Director: Terrorist Drones ‘Coming Here Imminently’ [VIDEO]

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress on Wednesday that terrorist groups are looking to use drones to wage attacks in the U.S. “I think we do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones,” Wray testified in a hearing for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. (Daily Caller)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Our free speech is already under attack

Freedom of speech is vital for a free society. The principle behind freedom of speech, however, isn’t simply the ability to scream and shout down opinions we don’t like. The purpose of free expression is tied to our ability to debate and to engage in civil discourse with our fellow Canadians — including those with whom we disagree. These discussions allow us to work through our differences and reach an understanding of where the other side is coming from. At the end of the day, we may not agree on the issues, but we reach a consensus – where both sides have honest convictions and are sincerely working to make Canada a better place. (Toronto Sun)

Toronto Sun: Liberals fail to embrace diversity of opinion

The federal Liberals purport to embrace diversity, particularly when it comes to women. Especially our Prime Minister, who is fond of calling himself a feminist. What then, to make of the display Tuesday at the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women? All the Liberal MPs who sit on the committee stood up and left the meeting in protest. (Toronto Sun)

Terry Glavin: Canada quietly opposes Kurd independence, notwithstanding history of oppression

Here’s something that doesn’t happen very often. On one of the deepest tectonic stresses underlying the blood-soaked ground of the Greater Middle East, an orderly referendum carried out this week in the most exemplary democratic fashion in Northern Iraq has pitted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, European radical leftists and one of the most persecuted minorities on the face of the Earth against U.S. President Donald Trump, Syrian mass murderer Bashar Assad, Turkish strongman Recep Erdogan and the Khomeinist regime in Iran. And Canada. (National Post)

Adnan Khan: Justin Trudeau’s grossly misleading take on Iraq

On Monday, Iraq’s Kurds went to the polls to vote yes or no on a seemingly simple question: “Do you want the Kurdistan Region and Kurdistani areas outside the (Kurdistan) Region to become an independent country?” On the face of it, the question was straightforward enough and, after more than a century of aspiring to freedom, the response virtually guaranteed. Yes, the Kurds overwhelmingly voted, they do want an independent country. (Macleans)

Shuvaloy Majumdar: The West should support Kurds' desire for independence from Iraq

The cause of Kurdish independence is one of the great taboos of western diplomacy. Regardless of where one’s sympathies lie, it’s a topic more consistently avoided than engaged. Yet, Monday’s historic referendum saw three quarters of the population participate. Early results suggest more than 90 per cent voted for an independent Kurdistan. This expression of the democratic will cannot be ignored. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development meet today to study the Situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia 25 Years after the End of the Cold War and Canada’s Development Finance Initiative (In Camera/Partly Public)

-       Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and the Committee on Public Safety  will receive a briefing today on the Issue of Asylum seekers (Public)