True North Initiative: News Scan 12 16 16

TOP STORIES

Trudeau invited Liberal donors to official dinner for Chinese Premier

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invited five dozen Liberal Party donors to an official dinner in honour of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in September – giving them the opportunity to mingle with senior cabinet ministers and top officials of the Chinese government. Among the guests were former Liberal cabinet minister Raymond Chan and Toronto consultant Richard Zhou – the party’s main fundraising emissaries to the Chinese-Canadian business community. Many of the Liberal donors have direct dealings with China either through their businesses, law firms, lobbying activities or close connections to the Chinese government, The Globe and Mail has learned. (Globe and Mail)

PM says looks forward to discussing fundraising controversy with ethics watchdog

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has no problem with answering questions from ethics commissioner Mary Dawson about his party's controversial fundraising tactics. Trudeau has been under fire in the Commons for weeks over a series of private, $1,500-a-ticket Liberal party fundraisers with well-heeled donors. Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose has said the so-called "cash-for-access" practice smacks of corruption and asked Dawson to investigate. A Globe and Mail report said Dawson agreed to question Trudeau on the issue to determine whether a more comprehensive investigation is warranted. A spokeswoman for Dawson's office would not confirm the report Thursday. (Canadian Press)

Khalid Ahmed Ibrahim Arrested Over Fears He Might Commit Act Of Terrorism

A B.C. man has been arrested on a peace bond under the suspicion that he might commit an act of terrorism. Khalid Ahmed Ibrahim, 39, caused a "fear of terrorism" on December 8, according to documents obtained by Vice News. A peace bond is essentially a type of restraining order. It can impose conditions on a person such as prohibiting them from leaving the country, forcing them to surrender any weapons they own and not allowing them to access the internet. Ibrahim's bail conditions include that he must live with his mother, not leave B.C., not possess knives or alcohol, maintain a 6 p.m. curfew, not access the internet and attend counselling, Vice reported. (Huffington Post)

Windsor man given terrorism peace bond with 17 conditions for traveling to ISIL territory

Ten days after flying out of Toronto’s Pearson airport on Nov. 3, 2013, Mohammed El Shaer was photographed outside an ISIL-controlled police station in a Syrian border town called Atmeh, raising his index finger in the jihadists’ salute. Standing beside him was Ahmad Waseem, whom El Shaer had accompanied from their hometown, Windsor, Ont. Three years later, Waseem is dead, killed fighting with ISIL, and on Thursday a judge imposed a terrorism peace bond on El Shaer. Following a day-long hearing, Justice Lloyd Dean placed 17 restrictions on El Shaer, including that he not communicate with ISIL supporters. He must surrender his passport and wear a GPS electronic ankle bracelet for six months. (Leader Post)

'Trump Bump' May Have Increased American Refugee Claims In Canada

The number of Americans seeking refugee status in Canada has experienced a significant bump this year, increasing more than five times in November 2016 from the same period a year earlier. The overall numbers, however, remain tiny. Few people seek to flee the world's largest economy, and one of its oldest democracies, on humanitarian grounds: A mere 170 Americans claimed asylum at Canada's land borders through the first 11 months of this year. (Huffington Post) (Toronto Star) (Global News)

Justin Trudeau: 'Globalisation isn't working for ordinary people'

Ordinary people around the world have been failed by globalisation, Justin Trudeau has told the Guardian, as he sought to explain a turbulent year marked by the election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote and the rise of anti-establishment, nation-first parties around the world. “What we’re facing right now – in terms of the rise of populism and divisive and fearful narratives around the world – it’s based around the fact that globalisation doesn’t seem to be working for the middle class, for ordinary people,” the Canadian prime minister said in an interview at his oak-panelled office in the country’s parliament. “And this is something that we identified years ago and built an entire platform and agenda for governing on.” (Guardian)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Syrian family living in frigid home with no kitchen ceiling

Damage from a small fire above his stove caused renovation crews to take away his appliances and sink, strip the drywall from the walls, rip up the laminate floors and remove the kitchen ceiling. Nothing has been replaced. (CBC)

Parent and grandparent super visa gives North Vancouver woman a super headache

The only thing Heather Harmse wants for Christmas is for her widowed mother to come to North Vancouver, B.C., to meet her first-born grandchild, but visa bureaucracy is keeping the woman in South Africa. In August, the family applied to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a parent and grandparent super visa for 72-year-old Jennifer Wilson. "Mom has a bit of a unique situation in that her fingerprints have always been faint, but, with the passing of age, they have become even more-so," said Harmes of her mother's situation.  "We submitted the first lot of fingerprints and they were rejected because they were too weak for the U.S. to continue with that process." (CBC)

Pray for Aleppo: Mosques hold community prayer for refugees fleeing Syrian city

As the evacuation of eastern Aleppo continues to unfold Thursday, two mosques are inviting all Winnipeggers to come together in solidarity with the Syrian refugees. The United Nations believes there are as many as 30,000 people still living in eastern Aleppo, which is held by rebels. A recent ceasefire is allowing them to flee the conflict-torn area. (CBC)

A milestone looms for Canada’s Syrian refugees: ‘Month 13’

Over the past 13 months, the Trudeau government has welcomed more than 35,700 Syrian refugees to Canada—an average of 2,746 per month, or about 90 a day. Among the very first arrivals was Hakoub Binajian, a Syrian-Armenian who fled war-torn Aleppo with his wife and two adult sons. The family touched down in Toronto, via commercial jet, on Nov. 24, 2015, two weeks before government charters started transporting refugees by the planeload. (Macleans)

Inside Quebec's far right: Soldiers of Odin leadership shake-up signals return to extremist roots

In the early evening darkness, four figures huddled in the parking lot of a Quebec City arena, all wearing black sweatshirts emblazoned with a drawing of Odin, a Norse god of war. One was a professional hunter, another a wood-factory worker. They stomped their boots in the cold, shared a cigarette or two, then set off to patrol the historic streets of the city, armed only with a flashlight and the belief they were protecting Quebecers from a vague but dangerous threat. (CBC)

Canadian special forces get new ultra light vehicles

Canada’s special forces will be receiving a fleet of new combat vehicles that resemble a dune buggy on steroids. The vehicle, designed with the help of NASCAR engineers, will be able to carry up to nine commandos. Polaris Industries of the U.S. has been awarded the $20 million contract to deliver 78 of what Canadian special forces are calling the Ultra Light Combat Vehicle or ULCV. (Ottawa Citizen)

Smoother military exit system for soldiers still years away, documents show

Building a smoother, less confusing exit path for soldiers departing the Canadian military will take another two or three years to implement and will likely not include significant recommendations from the Canadian Forces ombudsman, CBC News has learned. A draft copy of the strategy shows that many key elements of the Liberal government's overhaul of the system — namely the harmonization of financial benefits — will not take place until the 2018-19 budget year. (CBC)

Defence minister laments slow pace of improvements in supporting soldiers

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says his biggest regret over the last year is the slow pace of improvement when it comes to supporting Canadian troops dealing with mental-health injuries and other issues. Sajjan blames spending cuts under the previous Conservative government and its emphasis on more teeth and less tail, for increased wait times for troops seeking help, as well as problems delivering pensions. (Canadian Press)

Miss World contestant challenges China on organ-harvesting

Miss Canada will be vying for more than the winner's tiara when she competes in the annual Miss World pageant in Washington this weekend. Anastasia Lin wants to tell a global TV audience about the evil of organ-harvesting. Lin was due to compete at Miss World last year when it was hosted by China but was barred from entering the country due to her activism against persecution of Falun Gong, a meditation practice that she follows and China's government has outlawed. (Canadian Press)

Rome on verge of WAR between migrants and the poor, mayor of Italy's capital warns

Virginia Raggi told an immigration summit of European city leaders mayors need to be the first to welcome refugees with “warmth, shelter and accommodation”. She was speaking just days after a Moroccan family was prevented from moving into a council flat given to them by the authorities after neighbours shouted: “We do not want these n*****s.” Italy has seen the largest increase in migrant arrivals to Europe this year after the European Union (EU) made a deal with Turkey which meant migrants headed to Italy instead of Greece. (Express.co.uk)

Iran sanctions renewal becomes law without Obama signature

In an unexpected reversal, President Barack Obama declined to sign a renewal of sanctions against Iran but let it become law anyway, in an apparent bid to alleviate Tehran's concerns that the U.S. is backsliding on the nuclear deal. Although the White House had said that Obama was expected to sign the 10-year-renewal, the midnight deadline came and went Thursday with no approval from the president. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama had decided to let it become law without his signature. (Canadian Press)

Canada shaped China’s new domestic abuse law: feds

Canada’s federal government helped to guide China through the drafting of its first national domestic abuse law passed late last year, even fielding a visit from top Chinese lawmakers working on the project. Chinese officials “turned to Canada for inspiration” in the early stages of drafting the legislation, which explicitly outlaws physical and psychological abuse in domestic relationships for the first time in that country, according to Global Affairs Canada. (Hill Times)

Obama vows action against Russia for hacks

President Barack Obama on Thursday vowed retaliatory action against Russia for its meddling in the US presidential election. "I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we will at a time and place of our own choosing," Obama told National Public Radio. (CNN)

 

EDITORIALS AND OPINION PIECES

Paul Wells: Few signs Justin Trudeau has delivered on promises

So how’s it going? Depends how you measure it. In polls, the Liberals still lead all comers, less resoundingly than a few months ago, but still by comfortable margins. In the House of Commons, Trudeau’s a bum, castigated by opposition MPs, mostly over the government’s tone-deaf response to questions about Liberal fundraising. Around Ottawa, among people who watch politics but are not combatants, there is a sense that Trudeau has started more than he has delivered. He greatly enhanced the child benefit program he inherited from Stephen Harper. He is building an infrastructure bank to attract investments from foreign pension funds, and it will be a remarkable thing if it works. He hopes to buy fighter jets some day. He has carbon-reduction targets for 2030 and hopes to provide guarantees of health-care funding until the same year, which is three federal elections away. (Toronto Star)

Tom Flanagan: On fundraising, slam Liberals for their morals, not their methods

For the past two months, the opposition parties have hammered the federal Liberals for holding intimate soirées at which donors pay $1,500 to have a drink with a minister or even the Prime Minister. As his explanations become ever more laughable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks like a punch-drunk boxer, holding onto the ropes until the bell rings – in this case at the beginning of Christmas recess. (Globe and Mail)

Jerry Dias: Canada Needs To Expand Efforts To Provide Migrants Security

Canadians opened their doors a year ago to refugees from Syria. Bewildered after a long flight, they were handed new winter coats as they arrived at the airport, and across the country Canadians helped them find places to live and to furnish their new homes. Volunteers, including many Unifor members, offered advice on everything from finding a job to using public transit. It was a great initiative of which all Canadians are rightfully proud. The need was there, and we answered the call. (Huffington Post)

Kelly Pollack: Canada must sell its brand to attract smartest immigrants

Together with the rest of the world, on Dec. 18 Canada will mark International Migrants Day. For a nation whose story is inseparable from immigration and whose strength lies in its diversity, this is an occasion to celebrate. But it is also an opportunity to reflect on our “Canada brand” and on how best to build on its advantages. (The Province)

Mersiha Gadzo: Drone King Barack Obama will not be missed

With Donald Trump's election in the U.S., many have been expressing nostalgia and praise for President Barack Obama — but he won't be missed by people trying to leave peaceful lives in countries where his "War on Terror" has been waged. If we examine Obama's policies, how different is he from Trump or his predecessor George W. Bush? (CBC)

Zach Paikin: Delivering ‘more Canada’ will require thinking outside the foreign policy box

Every international order since the Habsburg victory in the Italian Wars of 1494-1559 has featured a hegemonic power, one that underwrites the stability of the international system and to whom other polities look for normative guidance. For the Western world during the Cold War, that power was the United States.  The dissolution of the Soviet Union resulted in a globalization of the American-led system, but 25 years later it has become clear that Washington cannot dominate and order the world alone. (National News Watch)

Don Martin's political predictions for 2017

With the MPs gone for the year, it's time for my 2017 political predictions, safe in the knowledge everyone will have forgotten how wrong they were by this time next year. (CTV)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

 

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