True North Initiative: News Scan 09 29 17

TOP STORIES

32,000 asylum seekers entered Canada, 6,000 work permits awarded, 9 deported: officials

There were 32,000 asylum seekers who have arrived in Canada since the beginning of 2017. That’s up from last year; 2016’s total was around 24,000. And 13,211 of those entered illegally, mostly through the Quebec border. The numbers were revealed as the House of Commons public safety committee received a briefing “on the issue of asylum seekers irregularly entering Canada from the United States” on Thursday. There were 80 additional Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) workers deployed to help refugee claimants who arrived through Quebec at a temporary facility in Montreal. (Global) (National Post)

Officials cite threats and fears in documents on refugee influx: CTV exclusive

CTV News has obtained government documents that outline the interdepartmental scramble to address the large number of asylum seekers crossing from the U.S. into Canada earlier this year, with officials citing concerns that the number of refugee claimants would overwhelm the system, potentially “resulting in pseudo-refugee camps” affecting everything from processing to public safety. (CTV)

Number of asylum seekers entering Canada through unauthorized border crossings drops in September

The number of asylum seekers entering Canada through unauthorized crossings along the U.S. border dropped in September, but it is hard to predict whether there will be another surge in the coming months, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says. About 50 people a day entered Canada through an unofficial crossing point at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., in September, compared with 200 to 250 a day in August, Mr. Hussen said on Thursday. More than 12,000 asylum seekers have crossed at Lacolle from New York this year. (Globe and Mail)

Canada's border agency to start tracking the number of cellphone searches

The Canada Border Services Agency will begin tracking the number of cellphones its officers search at the border, and will provide Canadians their first glimpse into the frequency of those searches after six months. "Right now we're not tracking separately how many cellphone searches we have done," said Martin Bolduc, vice-president of the agency's programs branch, in a meeting before the House of Commons standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics on Wednesday. (CBC)

Council asked to declare Kingston ‘access without fear’ city/Sanctuary City

Kingston may follow the lead of other Canadian cities by offering municipal services to “undocumented” immigrants through a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. The so-called ‘access without fear’ program provides social support, emergency, and education services to newcomers who currently don’t have legitimate status as residents. (Kingston Region)

New citizenship oath will reference treaties with Indigenous Peoples

A revised oath of citizenship that will require new Canadians to faithfully observe the country’s treaties with Indigenous Peoples is nearly complete. The proposed new text was put to focus groups held by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in March, following months of consultation by departmental officials. It reads: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.” (Macleans) (Canoe) (CBC)

Ismaël Habib to be sentenced Friday for trying to join ISIL in Syria

While hearing sentencing arguments at the Montreal courthouse in August, Quebec Court Judge Serge Délisle was given requests for Habib’s sentence from the Crown and the defence. Habib’s lawyer, Charles Montpetit, suggested an overall sentence of six years and six months would be fair while prosecutor Lyne Décarie requested a nine-year sentence that should serve to dissuade other people living in Canada from attempting to leave the country to join a terrorist group in a foreign country. (Montreal Gazette)

Audit finds $127k in questionable expenses by PoCo mosque director

An audit of the charity that runs the Port Coquitlam mosque has turned up thousands of dollars in financial irregularities and at least $127,000 in questionable expenses by its director, Saadeldin Bahr. According to a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) report, the Islamic Society of B.C. also has ties to a Qatari foundation with links to Hamas, an organization on the Government of Canada's list of terrorist groups. (TriCityNews)

Feds asks court to quash tribunal review of police raid after Hill attack

The Canadian government is challenging a decision by the Canadian Human Rights Commission to launch an investigation into allegations that law enforcement used racial profiling when they raided the home of an Ottawa man in connection to the October 2014 attack on Parliament Hill. According to an application for judicial review filed on September 21 in Federal Court, the government is asking the court to quash a decision by the Canadian Human Rights Commission to refer a complaint made by Farhan Nur for investigation by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. (IPolitics)

ISIS fanatics show baby-faced child suicide bomber blowing himself up in the desert in chilling new propaganda video

A twisted adult jihadi appears to show him how to operate the death-dealing motor. Footage from a drone reveals several Syrian military vehicles dug into a position in the sand before the attack. A huge mushroom cloud can then be seen over the outpost as the suicide bomber detonates his lethal payload close to the city of Deir Ezzor. (Sun.co.uk)

'New Baghdadi tape' posted by Islamic State group

Islamic State militants have released what appears to be an audio recording of their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. A speaker who sounds like the IS leader seems to refer to recent North Korean threats against Japan and the US. He also talks of battles for IS strongholds like Mosul, which was regained by Iraqi forces in July. (BBC) (Reuters)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Immigration detainee has suffered cruel and unusual treatment, lawyer says

Canadian immigration officials have dragged their feet, relied upon flimsy evidence and provided “no valid justification” to hold a man they are trying to deport in maximum-security jail, the man’s lawyer argued in court Thursday. “This is a gross violation of section 12 of the Charter,” Jared Will, lawyer for immigration detainee Ebrahim Toure, told Superior Court Justice Alfred O’Marra, referencing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protection against cruel and unusual treatment. (Toronto Star)

U.S. congresswoman outraged by Canadian-made video game ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant’

A video game invented by Ontario developers has led to outrage in Canada and the United States. ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant’ revolves around a character named Wong Fu. The job of the player is to pay the bills and keep the restaurant stocked. The game was created by Markham-based Big-O-Tree Games. (Global)

Four-year-old boy caught in immigration limbo for months gets his Canadian citizenship

After three months stuck in a type of immigration purgatory, not only are Donnie Dyck and his mom, Meg, reuniting with the rest of their family in Calgary but, on Wednesday, the adopted four-year-old officially became a Canadian citizen. “We have a lot to celebrate, that’s for sure,” says dad Jeremy Dyck, 35, who reached out to the Calgary Herald in early September to point out that while illegal immigrants were simply walking across the Canada-U.S. border into Quebec, his adopted son couldn’t get a visitor’s visa to come to Canada. (Calgary Herald)

Fort McMurray woman pleads guilty to acting as an immigration consultant

A Fort McMurray woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to acting as an unauthorized immigration consultant. Charie Santos pleaded guilty under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to representing people applying for status in Canada. The 44-year-old entered a guilty plea in Fort McMurray provincial court. (Yahoo)

Refugee judge's decision to accept wife and reject husband 'defies logic,' lawyer says

In a rare decision an adjudicator has rejected the refugee claim of a Sudanese man, finding it not credible, but granted asylum to his wife and their three children. Normally, the negative decision against Nasreldin Ali Akad Himad would not have mattered since he would be included in the permanent residence application with the immediate family members who were recognized as protected persons. (Toronto Star)

Kitchener's Rohingya community feeling 'helpless' as violence continues in Myanmar

Anwar Arkani, a Kitchener resident and the founder of the Rohingya Association of Canada, says he feels helpless as reports trickle out of Myanmar about mass killings and the exodus of nearly half a million people in what the United Nations is calling a case of “ethnic cleansing.” Arkani, who has lost most of his family to the crisis, says he can do little but raise awareness in the hopes the Canadian government will do more for his beleaguered people. (CTV)

Peterborough Police Service support ‘statement of unity’ prior to opposing weekend rallies

Peterborough police say they’ve added their name to a list of organizations and individuals that support diversity, inclusion and peace for all. It comes as a white nationalist group called the Canadian Nationalist Front plans an “anti-illegal immigration and anti-Trudeau” rally Saturday at Confederation Square in Peterborough. Local chairman Kevin Goudreau says it’s among a number of similar rallies taking place across the country questioning Canada’s immigration process. (Global)

Terrorism, harassment and public mischief: a legal guide to social media crimes

Social media has transformed the way people commit and experience crimes but, in many cases, policing and law-making have not yet caught up. Benjamin Perrin, an associate law professor at the University of British Columbia, has put together a guide looking at how laws apply to social media postings. His annotated version of Canada's Criminal Code examines what constitutes a crime and gives examples of court case precedence. (CBC)

B.C. businesswoman falsely labelled a terrorist files lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court

Earlier this year, Perienne de Jaray had a lawsuit that she had filed in Western Washington District Court – in which she claimed she and her father were wrongly targeted by Canadian officials who hoped to prove Canada was tough on terrorism – dismissed after the court found American laws grant immunity to foreign states. (Vancouver Sun) (CBC)

Morneau expecting more blowback once tax changes tabled

Facing external pressure from concerned constituents and anxiety among business owners over what the outcomes of the federal government's soon-ending consultation period will be on its proposed tax changes, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said there will be more time to hash out the ultimate tax reform proposal once it’s before Parliament. "What we’ve got right now is a consultation period on two pieces of draft legislation. We still have another piece of legislation to write, so there will be additional ability for people to have comments on that." said Morneau, following an appearance before the House Finance Committee Thursday where he fielded questions from both sides about the federal government's contentious tax reform proposal. (CTV)

Federal Politics: Trudeau still seen as best PM, but Conservatives ‘best to form government’

It was a turbulent summer for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government, which has faced criticism for its handling of the surge in irregular border-crossings in Quebec, the decision to pay Omar Khadr more than $10 million to settle his lawsuit against the government, and its proposed changes to small business taxation. As this last critique of the Liberal government continues into fall, a new analysis of quarterly polling data – fielded by MARU/Matchbox and donated to the Angus Reid Institute – finds evidence that Canadian public opinion is changing with the autumn leaves. (Angus Reid)

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals would beat Conservatives, NDP in election: Ipsos poll

Despite a string of political controversies, including the Liberals’ proposed tax reforms and the Omar Khadr settlement, voter support for Justin Trudeau’s government remains stable, according to an Ipsos poll. In fact, if an election were held tomorrow the poll suggests 39 per cent of Canadians say they would vote for Trudeau’s Liberals edging out Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives at 32 per cent. Twenty per cent would support the NDP – currently in a leadership race – while five per cent of the vote would go to the Bloc Quebecois, and four per cent to other parties, including the Green Party, the poll found. (Global)

No bailout for ailing media outlets: Ottawa

Good journalism is “critical” to democracy, but Ottawa says it won’t bail out media models “that are no longer viable.” Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly took the wraps off the Liberal government’s vision for culture in Canada, laying out in broad strokes a road map for everything from onscreen productions, poetry and books to the fate of small-town newspapers. In laying out the vision during a noon-hour speech Thursday, Joly looked at the challenges facing local media in Canada, which have been battered by sharp declines in revenue. (Toronto Star)

Clinton Says She Appreciates Canada's Open Attitude To Immigrants

Former American presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told an appreciative crowd on Thursday that more women in politics is the way to overcome the sexism that pervades the political world, and that democracy is under assault. (Huffington Post)

‘We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason,’ Hillary Clinton warns Toronto audience

The appearance in Toronto was part of a 15-city tour to promote her newly released memoir, What Happened. And, like her memoir, the speech darted between reasons for her electoral loss — including individuals from former FBI director James Comey to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — and the “phoney stories and hysterical appeals” of right-wing press outlets. (Toronto Star)

HOW DOES TRUMP’S REFUGEE CAP FOR 2018 COMPARE TO OTHER COUNTRIES?

President Donald Trump is to cap admissions of refugees at 45,000 in 2018, U.S. officials confirmed on Wednesday, in what will be a record low of any president since records began more than three decades ago. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, set the cap on refugee resettlement at 110,000 in his last year, more than double what Trump is proposing. Refugee resettlement is the third-country acceptance of a refugee who has already been granted asylum by another nation. (Newsweek)

Rohingya Muslims fear the UN failed them

The UN leadership in Myanmar tried to stop the Rohingya rights issue being raised with the government, sources in the UN and aid community told the BBC. One former UN official said the head of the UN in Myanmar (Burma) tried to prevent human rights advocates from visiting sensitive Rohingya areas. (BBC)

China to shut down North Korean companies

China has told North Korean companies operating in its territory to close down as it implements United Nations sanctions against the reclusive state. The companies will be shut by early January. Joint Chinese and North Korean ventures will also be forced to close. (BBC)

North Korea: Millions sign up for military to fight against U.S.

North Korea claims that 4.7 million of its citizens have volunteered to join or re-enlist in the military since leader Kim Jong Un threatened to "tame” President Trump “with fire" last week, North Korean state media reported. (USA Today)

U.S. plans major withdrawal of staff from embassy in Cuba

Two sources tell CBS News the U.S. is preparing to announce a major withdrawal of staff and family from the U.S. embassy in Cuba in response to attacks targeting diplomats. Only essential personnel will be left. (CBS)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Anthony Furey: The truth is the Liberals have always polled poorly on the actual issues

Canadians have never actually liked Justin Trudeau’s policies all that much. So it was only a matter of time before the official Liberal stock fell to the point it’s at now, with multiple polls showing Liberal support dipping and the Conservatives looking more like the favoured alternative. New numbers out Thursday from Angus Reid show 36% of voters think the Conservatives are the best party compared to 33% for the Liberals. And 45% say it’s time for a change on Parliament Hill. (Toronto Sun)

Douglas Todd: Young foreign workers reshaping Vancouver’s hospitality sector

If you think you’re hearing a lot of French, Irish, Korean and German accents when you buy coffee and restaurant food these days in Metro Vancouver, it’s because you are. There has been a sharp rise in the number of young foreign nationals obtaining working-holiday jobs in the Canadian hospitality industry under the federal government’s “international experience” visa program. (Vancouver Sun)

John Ivison: Accusations Morneau breached conflict-of-interest screen raise tension over tax reforms

The late Doug Finley, who was Stephen Harper’s backroom general, was asked shortly before his death in May 2013 how best to sabotage Justin Trudeau, who had recently been elected Liberal leader. Having helped torpedo the ambitions of three of Trudeau’s predecessors, Finley had some form when it came to attack ads. He harrumphed in typical Finley fashion and proposed the campaign should focus on the Liberal leader’s wealth and lack of first-hand experience of the lives of the people he was championing. The suggested pay-off line: “He’s not like you.” (National Post)

Charles Lammam and Hugh MacIntyre: What middle-class ‘tax cut’? Your family is probably paying more under Trudeau

On the campaign trail, Justin Trudeau promised to cut income taxes on middle-class Canadian families. Since becoming prime minister, he and his government have repeatedly claimed to have kept this promise. For instance, the Trudeau government’s first budget in 2016 proclaimed “the government cut taxes for middle-class Canadians everywhere.” And just last week, he made a similar statement to a global audience at the United Nations General Assembly. (Financial Post)

Ezra Levant: “He’s a bit of a thug”: Trudeau blocks pro-life Conservative woman from chairmanship

MP Rachael Harder of Lethbridge, Alberta is the Conservative’s official critic for status of women. Her party leader, Andrew Scheer, appointed her. She is also pro-life. Now, Prime Minnister Justin Trudeau is a feminist. You know that because he keeps saying so. (Rebel)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security  and the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration met yesterday for a “Briefing on the Issue of Asylum Seekers (Public)

-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met yesterday 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)