True North Initiative: News Scan 10 25 17

TOP STORIES

ISIS fighters are coming back to Canada.

As the Islamic State (ISIS) continues to lose ground in Syria and Iraq, a new report has found more than 5,000 supporters of the terrorist group have returned to their home countries. An estimated five dozen people have come back to Canada alone. The recent report from the Soufan Center, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, said 33 countries have reported arrivals of at least 5,600 people. And those returns represent a “huge challenge for security and law enforcement entities.”) (Global)

Canada refugee claims, slow progress

Figures from Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) show that the influx of asylum seekers has clogged the system. Thousands of claimants have crossed into Canada through the porous undefended border. About 13,000 of the 32,000 claims have been made this way, but only a few hundred have had their claims processed. (Radio Canada)

Via Rail plotters weren’t sick or addicted — they were evil, FBI undercover agent says

By the time he was sentenced to life in prison for plotting to wreck a Via Rail train and other terrorist acts, Chiheb Esseghaier had been diagnosed as psychotic, having gone on incoherent rants, spit at a witness and fallen asleep during his trial. Co-accused Raed Jaser claimed he was a mere drug addict trying to scam money from an undercover FBI agent posing as a rich jihadist. And a third associate said the whole terrorist conspiracy was “manufactured” by the agent. (National Post)

FBI undercover agent had to ‘shut down true feelings’ during Via Rail terror plot

Days after befriending a suspected terrorist living in Quebec, an undercover agent from the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation used colourful language to describe the intense, loquacious and deeply religious young man. “Better tell the Canadians they have a s--- storm on their hands,” the agent, known as Tamer Elnoury, recalls telling his colleagues in June 2012 while debriefing them about a burgeoning undercover operation. (Toronto Star)

Muslim FBI agent who helped Canada looks to reclaim Islam from jihadis

A Muslim FBI agent who helped Canadian authorities foil a terrorist plot says his religion is being desecrated by violent jihadis - and he wants the public to hear a different story. The keys are educating people about the true tenets of Islam and including Muslims in the fight against those who warp the faith for their own ends, said the undercover agent, who has written a candid book as Tamer Elnoury, his cover name during the Canada-U.S. operation. (CTV)

Federal economic outlook improves, deficit projected at $19.9B in 2017-18

The federal government is using an improved fiscal situation to make increases to some of its tax measures for middle and low income Canadians, but isn’t spending much of the extra cash that has been injected into the federal coffers as the result of a surging economy. The improved outlook means that Ottawa will increase the Canada Child Benefit, among other federal tax benefits. (CTV)

With economic statement, Morneau tries to get past questions of his own privilege

Tuesday's economic statement was a chance for the finance minister to talk about the greater good. But his own situation was not far from everyone's thoughts. A muttered reference to a villa in France could be heard as the finance minister told the House of Commons a story about a little girl in his riding who hoped her family members would be able to find affordable housing. (CBC)

Maryam Monsef's Jab At Incoming Tory MP Yields Quick Response From Michelle Rempel

A Liberal minister's likely pre-planned swipe at a soon-to-be Conservative MP sparked some fireworks in question period Tuesday. The moment occurred shortly after a Liberal backbencher lobbed a softball question at Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef, asking her how the government is "delivering results on gender equality." (Huffington Post)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Canada should admit more refugees, say advocacy groups

Canada should increase the numbers of refugees and immigrants it admits, recommends the Canadian Council for Refugees, an umbrella organization representing immigration and refugee advocacy groups across the country. The council would like the number of government-sponsored refugees to go from 7,500 to 20,000 per year.  It wants the number of refugees sponsored by private individuals and groups to increase enough to clear a backlog of cases by 2018.  And it says the level of accepted refugee claimants should be high given their increased numbers so that they quickly get permanent residence status and are reunited with family. (Radio Canada)

N.B. woman furious after Canadian immigration officials disclose her banking info

A New Brunswick woman is outraged after Immigration Canada shared sensitive personal information — including government identification and bank accounts — with a man who lives in another province. Yvonne LeBlanc, who lives in Bouctouche, N.B., a roughly 50-minute drive from Moncton, said she was shocked when Global News contacted her to inform her that personal information she had shared as part of an immigration application to help sponsor a friend for temporary residency was accidentally sent to a man from Port Hope, Ont. (Global)

Judge slams Ottawa for delays over $35-million CSIS lawsuit alleging workplace Islamophobia, racism and homophobia

A federal judge has slammed the Canadian government for not responding faster to a lawsuit launched by five intelligence officers and analysts who allege that they were bullied and harassed while working at Canada’s spy service because they are gay, Muslim or Black. “You can’t act as if the Court is not there,” Justice Simon Noël told Department of Justice lawyers during a September teleconference call regarding the case. (Toronto Star)

Canada child benefit: How your family is affected by the latest changes

An average Canadian family with two children will see approximately $200 more in Canada child benefit payments next year, and about $500 more in 2019, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Tuesday. In its fall economic update, the Liberal government announced that beginning in July 2018, Canada child benefit payments will be adjusted as the cost of living increases – almost two years earlier than previously promised. The change will also see the qualification threshold for families adjust along with the cost of living. (Global)

Trudeau PMO tightening control over ministerial staffing, ‘identical’ to Harper approach, says ex-Liberal MP

The flow of staff from the Prime Minister’s Office to key posts in ministerial offices reveals an underperforming rookie cabinet, increasingly controlled by the PMO despite promises that a Liberal government would reverse Stephen Harper’s centralized approach, say some Conservatives and Liberals. (Hill Times)

Bill Morneau dismisses objections to his participation in Bombardier loan discussions

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he “of course” participated in government discussions around the decision to give Bombardier’s C Series and Global 7000 aircraft programs a $372.5-million repayable loan last winter. Morneau dismissed as absurd comments made to the Star by Opposition critics that he should have recused himself from those discussions since he continued to hold shares in Morneau Shepell, which has the contract to run some, but not all, of Bombardier’s pension regimes. (Toronto Star)

Quebec Liberals play politics — and lose — with face-covering ban

When the Quebec Liberals passed their religious neutrality bill last week, it was an attempt to fulfil an election promise and quell a debate that's been flaring up in the province for the better part of a decade. Instead, it's prompted protest and criticism from both sides of the debate. Bill 62 states that anyone giving or receiving public services must do so with their face uncovered. The law applies to municipal and provincial services, including public transit, health care and libraries. (CBC)

'I have no right to look away': Doctor says world needs to know plight of Rohingya refugees

Since August, thousands of Rohingya refugees have been lining up daily along the Bangladesh border, taking the final steps of a long journey to flee persecution they have faced at the hands of the military in Myanmar.  Over half a million have crossed so far, and there's no sign the exodus will stop. (CBC)

US refugees: Stricter screening as 120-day ban expires

US President Donald Trump is to allow refugees to begin entering to the US again, with stricter rules for applicants from 11 "high risk" nations. The decision came as a 120-day ban on refugees expired on Tuesday - a part of Mr Trump's executive orders that came to be known as the "travel ban". (BBC)

Supreme Court dismisses Hawaii's challenge to Trump travel ban

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday formally dropped plans to hear the last remaining challenge to an earlier version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries and a ban on refugees, but a fight over the legality of his latest restrictions still could reach the nine justices. (Reuters)

Breakdown in North Korea Talks Sounds Alarms on Capitol Hill

Diplomatic efforts between the United States and North Korea are in peril with Pyongyang shunning talks in response to President Donald Trump’s increased public attacks on Kim Jong Un, according to multiple U.S. government and congressional officials. Joseph Yun, a top American diplomat to North Korea, has been warning of the breakdown in meetings on Capitol Hill and seeking help to persuade the administration to prioritize diplomacy over the heated rhetoric that appears to be pushing the two nuclear powers closer toward conflict, sources familiar with the discussions told NBC News. (NBC)

US sends THIRD aircraft carrier near North Korea in shock war move

USS Nimitz has joined USS Theodore Roosevelt – dubbed the “Big Stick” – and USS Ronald Reagan in the western Pacific.  The 100,000-ton warship and its strike group joins the two carriers amid fears of war with North Korea.  Each vessel is accompanied with a cohort of destroyers and submarines, and USS Ronald Reagan has been carrying out war drills since last week. (Daily Star)

Clinton campaign, DNC helped pay for work on dossier about Russia and Trump

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said. (Seattle Times) (Daily Mail)

Saudi Arabia will return to moderate, open Islam and 'will destroy extremist ideas', says crown prince

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia has revealed the country will return to moderate, open Islam. Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud also announced the kingdom would do more to tackle extremism today. Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh he said: "We want to go back to what we were, the moderate Islam that is open to the world, open to all the religions. (Mirror.co.uk) (BBC)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Lorrie Goldstein: Morneau's fall economic statement reveals Liberals' commitment to never-ending deficits, debt

Tuesday’s fall economic statement by Finance Minister Bill Morneau demonstrates why nothing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says in the 2019 federal election campaign about Canada’s debt and deficits can be trusted. Contrary to every message Trudeau delivered both before and during the 2015 election, Morneau laid out the real Liberal agenda going forward, which, to use his phrase, is “doubling down” on permanent deficits and wanton spending. (Toronto Sun)

Tarek Fatah: Burkas, niqabs pose public safety risk

The slur of “racism” has been hurled at Muslims who support Quebec’s Bill 62 — the new law banning face coverings, for example the burka and niqab, when giving or receiving government services. From Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne to Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, many white politicians and liberal media commentators have been quick to label any support of Bill 62 racist. (Toronto Sun)

Mark Bonokoski: Diabetics' troubles no big deal to Liberals

If the Trudeau Liberals want to see diabetes up close and personal, they should visit a hospital where the worst elements of this disease are front and centre. It will not be a pleasant tour. What they will see are a lot of wheelchairs, and people sitting in them who have had their feet lobbed off, and others sitting around them who are going blind. (Toronto Sun)

John Ivison: Since there's no fiscal meltdown in sight, the Liberals will just keep on spending

The worry when the Trudeau Liberals took office was that they couldn’t operate a spoon — that a two-house paper route would be beyond their organizational abilities. Early signs were not encouraging: spending ballooned, deficits appeared to be running amok. Keep calm and carry on, the Liberals said, “investments” in infrastructure and the new child benefit would spark economic growth. In effect, the budget would balance itself. (National Post)

Toronto Sun: Trudeau sticks it to the young

If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cared as much about today’s young people as he claims he does, he wouldn’t be mortgaging their future, which is what he’s doing. He wouldn’t pretend to them, or anyone else, that there’s a free lunch. That he can pay for his big government spending programs, while sticking future generations with the bill, free of any consequences. (Toronto Sun)

Lorrie Goldstein: Taxpayers put up $300,000 to renovate Premier Kathleen Wynne's offices

All things considered, was this really the best time for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to approve a $300,000 renovation of her offices? According to a Toronto Sun Freedom of Information request for information on renovations, office improvements and furniture purchases for the premier’s office since June, 2016, the $297,694.25 renovation was completed a year ago on rooms 6340 and 6522 in the Whitney Block, across from the Queen’s Park legislative building. (Toronto Sun)

Andrew Coyne: The troubling truth about our deficits — they are of choice, not of necessity

The choice the government would like you to take away from this Fall Economic Statement is as follows: between the Liberals, who plan to put billions more into help for needy children and the working poor, and the Conservatives, who remain obsessed with balancing the budget even as deficits come in under forecast and the debt-to-GDP ratio declines. (National Post)

Toronto Star: Province and feds must kick in more cash to help shelter refugees

Canada is a welcoming country for refugees – as we should and must be. Amid a global migrant crisis and American retreat on immigration, with a declining birth rate and shrinking labour force, now is the time to open our borders wider. But doing so effectively and responsibly requires investments in municipal infrastructure and services to help newcomers integrate and succeed. (Toronto Star)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

-       Standing Committee on National Defence meet later today to study Canada and the Ukraine Crisis

-       Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security meet tomorrow to study Bill C-21: An Act to amend the Customs Act