True North Initiative: News Scan 12 14 16

TOP STORIES

'It may go unnoticed': Why Canada is ripe for immigration scams

Imagine that your business name is used as bait to scam foreign workers hoping to come to Canada or that your stolen personal identity is used as the contact for the scheme. It is happening to some of Canada's best-known companies, including Bell Canada, Via Rail, Scotiabank and Bombardier and to a Montreal businessman, CBC News has learned. Those companies and the Montreal man were unaware that someone had used them as a front to defraud foreign job seekers out of thousands of dollars until CBC News told them. (CBC)

Liberals scrap '4-in, 4-out' rule for temporary foreign workers

The federal government is tweaking the rules around temporary foreign workers while it works on an overhaul to the controversial immigration program. The government has scrapped the cumulative-duration rule — also known as the "four-in, four-out" rule — which limited how long temporary foreign workers could stay in Canada. After four years, the worker would have to leave Canada for four years or stay as a student or visitor. The government said the change will "prevent unnecessary hardship and instability for both workers and employers." (CBC) (Toronto Star)

Accused terrorist Mohammed El Shaer back in Windsor, Ont. Court

A high-risk traveller from Windsor, Ont. is back in court Wednesday morning to find out if he will be placed under a terrorism peace bond. Mohamed El Shaer became one of few Canadians to be arrested on a provision in the country's new anti-terrorism law when he was picked up by the RCMP in June. At the time, he had just finished serving a 118-day sentence for passport fraud and breaching his probation. The terrorism peace bond, which El Shaer could be placed under, is used for people who police believe could leave Canada to participate in terrorist activity. (CBC)

Ottawa delays decision on overseas military deployment

An announcement on the deployment of Canadian soldiers on an overseas peace mission has been postponed until after the holidays as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the government wants to take the time to “get this right.” Sajjan said the decision — originally expected before Christmas — is taking time because of the complexity in organizing a mission that involves more than just the Defence Department but foreign affairs and development, too. “This is a whole-of-government effort in terms of where we’re going to be doing peace operations,” he told reporters on Parliament Hill Tuesday. (Toronto Star)

Justin Trudeau says he uses cash-for-access fundraisers to champion the middle class

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came up with a new line of defence to justify Liberal Party cash-for-access fundraisers that are held in the homes of wealthy Canadians, telling Parliament he goes to these events to talk up his plan to tax the rich and help the struggling middle class. The day after he acknowledged people lobby him at the $1,500-per-ticket receptions – in direction violation of Liberal Party fundraising rules – Mr. Trudeau faced withering criticism in the House of Commons on Tuesday and demands to stop the practice. (Globe and Mail)

Canada will not follow U.S. in restricting some arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Canada will not follow the United States in restricting arms sales to Saudi Arabia – such as a $15-billion Canadian combat-vehicle deal – even though Barack Obama’s administration has just curbed some weapons exports to the Mideast kingdom because of the number of civilians the Saudis are killing during strikes in Yemen. Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said Canada has asked the Saudis to be careful how they use some of their more controversial weapons in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Arab states trying to beat back Houthi rebels backed by Iran. He did not elaborate on these conversations. (Globe and Mail)

Only majority of Conservative voters want tighter immigrant screening: Forum Research poll

A new poll indicates a healthy majority of Canadians are satisfied with federal screening for immigrants before they’re admitted to Canada—with distrust in the system highest among Conservative Party supporters. A recent Forum Research poll found fully 59 per cent of voting-age Canadians believe immigrants are being “thoroughly screened,” with only a majority of respondents who support the Conservative Party saying they disagree immigrant screening is thorough. (Hill Times)

CSIS breaches promise to report on past media surveillance

Canada’s spy agency has backtracked on its promise to reveal to a Senate committee how many Canadian journalists it spied on in the past, citing operational security. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said while it “appreciates the importance of the question” to Canadians and the Senate committee on national security and defence, “we regret that we cannot confirm whether journalists have been the subject of any CSIS investigation.” (Toronto Star)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Ottawa calls on Syria and Russia to end ‘horrific crisis’ in Aleppo

Canada’s Defence Minister is calling on Syria’s Assad regime and Russia to end the “horrific crisis” taking place in Aleppo as the last key opposition stronghold falls to Damascus. “At the end, whether it’s Russia or Assad, [they] really need to take a strong look at themselves and the atrocities that are being committed and the humanitarian crisis that’s been created. At the end of the day, the human suffering is unimaginable,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Tuesday. (Globe and Mail)

Syrians surround Toronto's Russian embassy to call on world leaders for help

Jlanar came to Canada with her father and sister nine months ago. The family joined a throng of protesters outside the Russian consulate in Toronto night, decrying the lack of global intervention as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his military coalition of Russia, Iran and regional Shia militias took control of the war-torn city Tuesday night. There have been reports of Syrian soldiers and their allies fatally shooting civilians in recaptured parts of Aleppo. (CBC)

Sponsored Syrian refugees prepare to go it alone

If Syrian refugees Jehad Alsebaee and Nirmeen Alsebai had written up a to-do list of things they wanted to accomplish in their first year in Ottawa, there would be plenty of check marks by now. But despite their many achievements, the couple acknowledges one big disappointment: after a full year of ESL classes, three hours a day, five days a week, coupled with countless hours practising at home, both Alsebaee and Alsebai​'s English skills remain rudimentary at best. (CBC)

Kevin O'Leary surprises with potential campaign team assembled

Kevin O'Leary held a pre-campaign event in Ottawa Monday, seeded with Conservative heavy-hitters that suggest he's seriously considering a bid for the party's leadership. O'Leary, the chair of O'Leary Financial Group, invited Conservative MPs to a mid-day reception near Parliament Hill to meet with them and talk about the possibility of him entering the race, referring to caucus as the board of directors to the party leader. (CTV)

Maxime Bernier calls out Kevin O’Leary, says Tory leader must speak French

Unilingual businessman Kevin O'Leary should rethink his potential run for the Conservative leadership, Maxime Bernier said Tuesday.The Quebec-based MP and leadership candidate said the Tories will never take power if they are led by someone who can't speak French. "If (O'Leary) believes he can win an election without speaking a word of French, he is wrong," said Bernier. "And I think the members of the Conservative party are conscious of this. They are conscious of the need for a leader who can speak in French to Quebecers." (Canadian Press)

A list of Canadians who ran into trouble abroad in 2016

Every year a number of Canadians and permanent residents find themselves behind bars in foreign countries - 2016 was no exception. Some cases have been called unjust, others are in the process of being prosecuted and in a handful of cases, some detained Canadians were released and allowed to return home. Here are snapshots of some key cases that made headlines this year. (Toronto Star)

Two Texans who love Canadian oil offered pipeline-policy roles in Trump cabinet

Donald Trump's prospective cabinet is now stacked with friends of Canadian oil, with vocal proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline his picks to run key posts in the State and Energy departments. Both are from the state where the pipeline concludes: Texas. Trump announced Tuesday that he'll ask Congress to approve Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as the U.S's top diplomat — and the decision on international pipeline permits belongs to the secretary of state. And Rick Perry is the pick for energy secretary, sources tell The Associated Press. When he announced his ill-fated run for president last year, the former Texas governor promised he'd waste no time approving the pipeline: "(I'll do it) on Day 1." (Canadian Press)

China: Trump's One China comments 'risk Taiwan peace'

Beijing has warned the incoming US administration that any attempt to challenge the "One China" policy could impact on peace in the Taiwan Strait. Interference may also damage developing US-China relations, a spokesman said. Under the "One China" policy, the US has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province. However, US President-elect Donald Trump has expressed doubts about continuing to abide by the policy. (BBC)

Fierce fighting halts Aleppo evacuation

A deal to evacuate rebel fighters and civilians from eastern Aleppo appears to have stalled, with heavy shelling reported in the Syrian city. A ceasefire was declared in Aleppo on Tuesday and buses brought in to ferry people out of the devastated enclave. But fighting resumed on Wednesday. Syrian activists also say air strikes over rebel-held territory have resumed. The breakdown of the deal, brokered by Russia and Turkey, is being attributed to demands from the Syrian government. (BBC)

 

EDITORIALS AND OPINION PIECES

Scott Reid: A warning for Trump wannabes — you're not qualified

For those hoping to connect cause and effect, big rallies, like so many other individual aspects of campaigning, can be deceptive. Large crowds help winners look like winners. But sometimes they can help losers also look like winners. And as much as every candidate likes to believe they’re leading a history-making movement, there’s typically a lot less to winning than meets the eye. Which takes us to Trump. Suddenly, the lazy assumption is that everything he did in staging his improbable victory, beginning with those big rallies, was a masterful repudiation of conventional campaign tactics. He did things his way and, in succeeding, has revealed a path to power never imagined by those in the so-called professional political class, and the cliquish media who cover them. So says everyone today. Except … that’s not really the case. (IPolitics)

Lawrence Martin: To rein in Trump, Canada needs Brian Mulroney

Brian Mulroney has always been a foremost admirer of American presidents. Flatters them, cultivates them. Ingratiates himself. And to beneficent effect. For himself and, many would say, for his country. But Donald Trump? Him, too! “The Donald Trump I have always known,” Mr. Mulroney observed last week without gulping, is “a gentleman.” Has five wonderful kids, he pointed out, who don’t drink, smoke or do crack. “For me, if someone is able to make $10-billion and raise five children like that, it speaks well of him.” (Globe and Mail)

Susan Delacourt: 'New Liberals', old money: The contradictions of cash-for-access

The cloud of controversy over Liberal fundraising practices has revealed a fundamental grammar divide across the House of Commons. It boils down to this: The opposition likes verbs, the Liberal government likes adjectives. Every day in question period, Conservatives and New Democrats stand up daily to ask about what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers have been doing (an action word) to raise dollars, and the Liberals reply with descriptions of themselves or the country’s laws. (IPolitics)

Paul Wells: Report on legalization of pot contains highs and lows

Reading the 106-page report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, with its determinedly bland cover design and its epically drab title, “A Framework For the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada,” it’s hard to shake the urge to blow off a little steam by sparking up a great big bowl of — Whoa! Wrong attitude! Sorry about that. Lord forbid anyone suggest that the point of legalizing marijuana in Canada is to increase the amount of fun anybody might be having. (Toronto Star)

Michael Den Tandt: Kevin O’Leary has the chops to become PM — but first he’ll need to develop an appetite for rubber chicken

Ask any battle-tested Canadian Conservative about Kevin O’Leary, aka “Mr. Wonderful” of ABC’s Shark Tank, and you’re liable to get an earful. O’Leary is an interloper. He hasn’t put in the time in church basements. He hasn’t manned a grill at a pancake breakfast, given a speech to a small room of prickly retirees in Durham, Ont., or otherwise paid his dues. All true, as far as I know. But here’s the thing: Dues-paying, suddenly, is not so much the fashion. The fashion is busting down the front door, smashing the bone china and taking over. (National Post)

Jay Fayza: Debunking liberal myths about mass immigration

The trouble is, much of what liberals believe about immigration simply isn't true, such as their insistence that immigrants give more to their new country than they take.  The numbers just don't add up. (Rebel)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

- Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration meet yesterday to study Modernization of Client Service Deliver (Link)

- Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development meet today to get a briefing with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States and to continue study on Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Official Act and Special Economic Measures Act (3:30pm EST) (Public)