True North Initiative: News Scan 10 13 17

TOP STORIES

RCMP accused of racial profiling over ‘interview guide’ targeting Muslim border crossers

The federal government is under fire for an RCMP screening questionnaire that asks asylum seekers how they feel about Muslim headscarves, the Islamic State, and whether they would mind having a female boss. The "interview guide" had been used by federal officers in Quebec, where more than 10,000 refugee claimants have surged into the province from a U.S. land crossing this year. (Globe and Mail) (CTV) (CBC)

Canadian man, family freed after five years of captivity by terrorist network

The Canadian man, 34, and his American wife, 31, were newlyweds when they disappeared while travelling into Afghanistan in 2012, triggering a long-running effort by Canada and the United States to free the family from the Haqqani network. That effort came to a sudden and successful conclusion on Thursday, although there are conflicting accounts as to whether their freedom was secured by a negotiated handover or by a shootout at the Afghan-Pakistani border. (Globe and Mail) (Toronto Star) (National Post) (Daily Mail) (Toronto Star)

Caitlan Coleman family refuses return to US; husband fears Gitmo over past

The daring plan to bring home an American woman and her family from Afghanistan, where they were held captive by a Taliban-affiliated group, appeared to hit a snag Thursday, with officials telling Fox News the woman's husband is refusing to board a plane out of the Middle East. Caitlan Coleman, 32, was seven months pregnant when she and her husband, Josh Boyle, were abducted in Afghanistan in 2012 by the Haqqani network. The couple and their three children -- all of whom were born in captivity -- were freed Thursday in a "negotiated release," an official told Fox News. (Fox News) (Daily Mail)

Freed Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle best known for his link to Khadr family

Joshua Boyle, now free after five years of captivity in Afghanistan, is perhaps best known for his brief marriage to Omar Khadr’s older sister. Boyle, the son of an Ottawa tax court judge, was married for about a year to Zaynab Khadr. She’s the eldest daughter of Ahmed Said Khadr, who was accused by the U.S. and Canada of being an associate and financier for the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. Ahmed Khadr studied at the University of Ottawa, and the family moved between Canada, Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Canoe)

Haqqani network's release of hostages raises concerns over possible quid pro quo

The release of a Canadian-American family held hostage by the Haqqani network has cast a spotlight on the lesser-known terror group. It also has raised questions about what the network might have received in return. The kidnapping of Canadian Joshua Boyle and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, fits into the group's pattern of violence on Western targets. Kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2012, the family was kept alive and ultimately freed Wednesday in neighbouring Pakistan. (CBC)

Terror suspect dead or alive? Confusion hampers resolution of media fight

Confusion over whether an accused Canadian terrorist is dead or not is hampering efforts to resolve a legal battle over police demand for a journalist’s background materials, a request that has alarmed media-rights groups. Federal prosecutors and the RCMP are holding fast to a production order that a Vice Media reporter produce information related to his interviews with Farah Shirdon, a Calgary man who is charged in absentia with various terrorism-related offences. Vice Media is currently seeking leave to appeal the RCMP’s demand to the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing among other things that it infringes on media freedom and could make it harder for journalists to access sources. (680 News)

HEZBOLLAH MILITANTS ENTERED GERMANY AMONG REFUGEES

“Since mid-2015 there are increased indications of fighters from Shi’ite militias entering Germany as legal refugees,” according to the intelligence report. “The indications regarding roughly 50% [of the fighters] show a direct connection to Hezbollah.” The EU designated Hezbollah’s so-called military wing, Izzadin Kassam, as a terrorist organization in 2013. Militants who entered Germany with no concrete links to a specific terror group had largely fought on the side of Shi'ite militias against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, according to the report. (Jerusalem Post)

ISIS sex slave describes horrifying scenes: 'Forced to do things that were disgusting'

Depraved ISIS thugs are little more than serial rapists who claim sex assault is a byproduct of implementing teachings of the Qur'an. The grisly details are laid out in a new report by Nikita Malik called, “Trafficking Terror: How Modern Slavery and Sexual Violence Fund Terrorism.” In it, a Yazidi survivor describes how ISIS henchman would line up young girls against walls before groping their chests. (Toronto Sun)

Budget Cover Cost $212,234

The Department of Finance spent nearly a quarter-million dollars on artistic themes for its 2017 budget, say Access To Information records. Costs included $89,500 for talent fees and photos of models posing as middle class Canadians. “I like the colour scheme,” wrote Natalie Rieger, senior marketing advisor for the finance department. “It’s fresh. I love where this is going.” Staff paid the McCann ad agency $212,234 including the cost of photos depicted on the cover of the March 22 budget document Building A Strong Middle Class and related marketing materials. Images were supposed to illustrate budget themes. “The future of children is an issue that is central to the 2017 budget,” wrote McCann executives. “That is why they are the focus of every visual.” (Blacklocks)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Justin Trudeau to wrap up Mexico visit; Leaders still hope to keep NAFTA alive

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau concludes his first official visit to Mexico today with a speech to the country’s Senate. Trudeau is expected to highlight the existing strengths of the Mexico-Canada relationship. That bond was on display Thursday as the leaders of the two countries said they’re not giving up on talks to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Global)

How Canada enabled the rise of Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto

If there ever was a truly Canadian mobster, it was Vito Rizzuto. He glided through life at the top of a multi-million-dollar international empire of large-scale construction fraud, drug trafficking, extortion, bribery, stock manipulation, loansharking and money laundering. The only things in Montreal it seemed he didn’t control were the city’s nasty winters, and he routinely fled those for warm Caribbean climes, where he mingled business with pleasure on manicured golf courses with city bureaucrats, union and businessmen, Hells Angels, and other Mafiosi. Almost four years after his death, his shadow continues to float behind murders in Quebec and Ontario. (Macleans)

How Trump and Trudeau heated up the White House

“I know the capability that we have, believe me, and it is awesome. It is massive,” Donald Trump said during a meeting with Justin Trudeau Wednesday in his quarters. “I think I have a little bit different attitude on North Korea than other people have, and I listen to everybody, but ultimately, my attitude is the one that matters, isn’t it?” (Macleans)

Justin Trudeau’s flying unicorn hits a storm

TO OPPOSE the government of Justin Trudeau has been no fun. Canada’s prime minister has shrugged off controversies that would have hurt a less charismatic politician. Few Canadians seemed to mind when he accepted a helicopter ride from the Aga Khan to holiday on his private island in the Bahamas; most yawned when the government paid C$10.5m ($8.4m) to settle a lawsuit brought by a former inmate of Guantánamo. After a flattering cover story on Mr Trudeau appeared in Rolling Stone in July, Michelle Rempel, an MP from the opposition Conservative Party, vented her frustration: the press treat him and his team as “Prince Charmings who can do no wrong, all while flying through a rainbow on a unicorn”. (Economist)

How a quiet change to the tax code became a PR problem for the Liberal government

A change to how the Canada Revenue Agency interprets a section of the tax law spiralled into a public relations nightmare this week that ended with a ministerial tongue-lashing for public servants and a tweet from the prime minister himself promising retail workers he wouldn't tax their employee discounts. How did a bureaucratic change made a year ago get to that point? (CBC)

Finance Minister Bill Morneau waited 2 years to disclose his French villa to ethics watchdog

Finance Minister Bill Morneau waited two years to disclose a villa in southern France that he owns with his wife through a private corporation to Canada's ethics watchdog, CBC News has learned. In fact, Morneau only disclosed the corporation to conflict of interest and ethics commissioner Mary Dawson's office after CBC News discovered its existence and began asking questions. (CBC)

Government quietly appoints Guy Bujold interim RCMP watchdog

Canada's national police force has a new watchdog — at least for the time being. While no formal appointment announcement has been made, Guy Bujold this month started serving as both interim vice-chair and acting chair of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, which handles complaints about the RCMP. (CBC)

Silence deafening for refugee seeking reunification with family

A mother of three who fled Burundi last year says she's heard nothing about her bid to bring her husband and young children here, despite a pledge by the Canadian government to speed up the family reunification process. Anitha Mahoro fled Burundi after her cousin, Burundian state TV reporter Christophe Nkezabahizi, Nkezabahizi's wife and two children were shot dead by police in 2015 as violence flared over the controversial re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza. (CBC)

Man denied citizenship after 27 years in Canada offered second chance to earn it

It’s been more than a year and a half since Global News first started following the story of Jonathan “Yoani” Kuiper and his battle against the Canadian government, which he says has hung him out to dry. Kuiper’s family immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands more than three decades ago. He was only 14 months old at the time. (Global)

Quebec vows to break down barriers immigrants face finding work in their professions

A first-of-its-kind meeting is underway in Quebec City, aimed at confronting one of the greatest barriers newcomers to Quebec face when they try to find work in their fields. Most foreign-trained professionals never obtain the certification from one of Quebec's professional orders which they need in order to continue in their chosen careers. (CBC)

Social conservative policies off limits at Ontario Tory convention: Brown

The leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives, a largely unknown politician who polls suggest could be the province's next premier, says social conservative issues will be off limits at his party's much anticipated policy convention. Patrick Brown, who as a former backbench MP in Stephen Harper's government voted in favour of reopening the abortion debate, has been busy trying to fend off Liberal attacks that he is a thinly disguised social conservative. But Brown says he is pro-choice and more recently has led Pride parade delegations. (Globe and Mail)

Oxford University Shields Freshmen from 'Harmful' Christianity

What do John Wycliffe, John Wesley, Thomas Wolsey, and Sir Thomas More have in common? Well, several things, including their Christian faith, but all four men are noted alumni of Oxford University. All four men, as well as every Christian who graduated from Oxford, would also be shocked to learn that one of the colleges at their alma mater has deemed exposure to Christianity to be dangerous for freshmen. (PJ Media)

Iran nuclear deal: Trump poised to withdraw support

US President Donald Trump is expected to withdraw backing from the nuclear accord with Iran on Friday and lay out a more confrontational strategy. The move would not withdraw the US from the deal but give Congress 60 days to decide whether to do so by re-imposing sanctions. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been consulting with counterparts in Europe and China, officials said. (BBC)

Coptic priest killed in street attack in Cairo

Fr Samaan Shehata was stabbed to death as he walked through a poor area of the city. Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church says a priest has been killed in a knife attack in a poor Cairo district, the latest deadly assault on members of the country’s Christian minority. (Catholic Herald)

Congress warned North Korean EMP attack would kill '90% of all Americans'

Congress was warned Thursday that North Korea is capable of attacking the U.S. today with a nuclear EMP bomb that could indefinitely shut down the electric power grid and kill 90 percent of "all Americans" within a year. (Washington Examiner)

Evacuations widened as Northern California wildfires spread to 170,000 acres with at least 23 dead

As the death toll from 16 wildfires raging in Northern California climbed Wednesday, thousands more residents in Calistoga and elsewhere were ordered to flee their homes and firefighters raced against the setting sun to douse smoldering hot spots before devilish winds returned to breathe new life into the blazes. (LA Times)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Toronto Sun: Terrorism by illegal refugees a concern

According to a new poll, more than half of Torontonians worry terrorists pretending to be refugees are coming to our city to cause violence and destruction. That 53% expressed this view in a Newstalk 1010/Dart Insight and Communications poll of 814 Toronto adults released Thursday, will no doubt horrify our city’s chattering classes. We can already here the hysterical warnings of politically correct municipal, provincial and federal politicians, and liberal media pundits, that this is yet another example of the systemic racism that permeates our society, requiring more government spending to address. (Toronto Sun)

Mark Bonokoski: An ‘unravelling’ president? Crazy times in a crazy White House

When uber-conservative Steve Bannon was banished from the White House as President Donald Trump’s chief adviser, he made no bones about how he was now gunning for the entire Republican Party. To him, it was an extremely dysfunctional anti-Trump collective, populated by dinosaurs, that was in dire need of a good culling (Toronto Sun)

Don Martin: Feds fumble on employee discounts a display of supersized political stupidity

A server at McDonald's gets 50 per cent off four regularly priced menu items per day. Managers and overnight staff are entitled to a free meal. The updated edict from the Canada Revenue Agency clearly indicated that, while this is an extreme example, discounts and freebies were taxable benefits and must be declared as such on company and individual tax forms. (CTV)

John Ivison: If Trudeau is 'sucking up' to alpha dog Trump, it's for the greater good

Justin Trudeau would probably have preferred to drink gasoline straight from the nozzle rather than mug for the cameras outside the White House with a president who, according to fresh reports in Vanity Fair, is in the process of “unraveling.” Diplomacy demanded he fake a rictus smile Wednesday while Donald Trump complained about the press’s “disgusting” tendency to “write whatever they want to write.” (National Post)

Vivian Bercovici: Why Trudeau's shocking Holocaust blunder caused gasps worldwide

Rarely do local Canadian events receive widespread “real-time” attention in Europe, America and Israel, with coverage in top-tier media, like The New York Times, The Washington Post and the BBC. The recent unveiling of the commemorative plaque at Canada’s Holocaust memorial in Ottawa by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was such an occasion. The memorial was long overdue. Until the Harper government commissioned it in 2011, Canada was distinguished as the only major allied country to not have installed any official public memorial to the Holocaust’s victims. This “oversight,” whatever the reason for it, has finally been addressed. The ensuing flap, however, arises from the memorial plaque that was unveiled at the site, with the following engraving: (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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