True North Initiative: News Scan 12 19 16

TOP STORIES

PM defends fundraisers, blames media and opposition for arousing criticism

The Liberals have been under fire in the House of Commons for weeks over appearances by Trudeau and some cabinet ministers at so-called cash-for-access fundraising events, raising concerns those who can afford the $1,500 ticket prices can buy better access than most Canadians have. Trudeau repeated his assertion, made frequently in question period, that his government follows all fundraising rules. "That's the thing -- that comments that media and that oppositions make are causing people concerns," he told LaFlamme. (CTV)

Immigration fraud charges laid against Winnipeg man

A 56-year-old Winnipegger has been charged with fraud for allegedly acting as an unauthorized immigration consultant. The man acted as a paid immigration consultant when he was not licensed to do so and fraudulently collected fees from clients, the Canada Border Services Agency alleges. The offences occurred between January 2009 and December 2015, when the man misrepresented himself to foreign nationals with the promise to provide immigration services to Canada, border services officials said. (CBC) (Toronto Sun)

CSIS knew intimate details of suspected terrorist's final hours before leaving Canada, RCMP informed months later

In 2013, while the RCMP were still investigating how a suspected terrorist had quietly left Canada to join ISIL the previous year, Canada’s spy agency informed the Mounties they had in fact already known the intimate details of the terrorism suspect’s final hours before he boarded a plane for Syria, new court records reveal. (Calgary Sun)

Terrorism peace bond sought against New Westminster man

RCMP are seeking a special terrorism peace bond against a New Westminster man. According to a copy of an information sworn last week in pursuit of the extraordinary measure, police claim they have reasonable grounds to worry that Khalid Ahmad Ibrahim "may commit a terrorism offence." The 39-year-old was charged last summer with uttering threats "to cause death or bodily harm to Canadian persons." He must appear in court on Dec. 20 in relation to the Section 810.011 peace bond application. (CBC)

Linda Vatcher, Retired Canadian Teacher, Killed In Jordan Terror Attack: Reports

Gunmen ambushed Jordanian police in a series of attacks Sunday, including at a Crusader castle popular with tourists, killing a woman visiting from Canada, seven officers and two local civilians, officials said. At least 27 people were wounded in one of the bloodiest attacks in Jordan in recent memory. The CBC reported that Linda Vatcher, 62, a retired teacher from Burgeo, N.L. was the Canadian killed in the attack. She was visiting her son Chris Vatcher, who was working in the Middle East. He was also wounded in the attack. (Huffington Post)

‘It’s not just numbers,’ Chagger defends House’s low legislative productivity this session

The majority governing Liberals have passed a fraction of the legislation that previous Parliaments in recent times have passed during their first year, but Government House Leader Bardish Chagger is defending the government’s record, saying it’s not all about the volume of legislation that gets passed, it’s also about the quality of debate (Hill Times)

Saudi arms deal heads to court in test over Dion’s authority

The federal government is defending its decision to export combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia by arguing in court that the Canadian Foreign Minister has such broad authority to green-light weapons shipments he could allow deliveries even if there was a real risk they could be used to commit human-rights violations. (Globe and Mail)

Conservatives, Quebecers most biased, poll finds

A majority of Conservative voters and people from Quebec — almost six in 10 — have “unfavourable feelings” for at least one religious or ethnic minority group, according to a new poll. The telephone survey by Forum Research found that, overall, 41 per cent of Canadians feel unfavourable about at least one of the following groups: Muslims, First Nations, South Asians, Asians, Jews and black people. Regionally, 57 per cent of respondents from Quebec felt unfavourable toward at least one of the groups, followed by 45 per cent from Alberta, 39 per cent from Atlantic Canada, 35 per cent from British Columbia and about one-third from each Ontario, Manitoba/Saskatchewan. (Toronto Star)

Canadians are wrong about Muslims, happiness, and homosexuality

Those are all findings from international polling company Ipsos's annual Perils of Perception survey. In 40 countries, the firm compared people's perceptions of demographic fact, with actual demographic fact. And in most cases, found that people are way off. Out of the 40 countries involved, Canada was ranked 12th in the "Index of Ignorance." (CBC Radio)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Want to help Aleppo? Give to large organizations ready to act when access improves, says minister

Deciding who to trust with donation dollars in a civil war as complex as the Syrian conflict is even more complicated than in other disasters. Canadians who want to donate to relief efforts for Syrians being evacuated out of Aleppo should consider giving to large organizations that can access people in need quickly, according to the minister of international development. (CBC) (680 News)

Brampton couple accused of having fake marriage – despite their child

Three different adjudicators presiding over a Brampton woman’s long-drawn-out spousal sponsorship application apparently think so, even though the couple has a daughter together. Since 2008, Saranjit Kaur Sandhu has made three failed attempts to bring her spouse, Kulwinder Singh Sangha, to Canada from India — twice the Federal Court of Canada overturned the negative decision and sent the case back to the immigration appeal tribunal for reconsideration. (Metro)

Alan Kurdi's aunt says she’s ready to advocate for refugees full-time

Alan’s very public death instantly turned Tima Kurdi into a national advocate, pushing the federal government to help Syrians by bringing them in as refugees on a large scale, which Canada has done in the past year by settling tens of thousands across the country. She has regularly appeared in the media to comment on refugee issues, including when equally tragic photos of other young Syrians have surfaced, and has drawn on her family’s experience by speaking to universities and conferences, as well as higher-profile venues such as the European Parliament. (Globe and Mail)

Syrian refugee in Nova Scotia fights to gain a financial foothold

Syrian refugee Easa al Hariri is effusive in his praise of Canada — and now, as the mandated Canadian financial support for his family comes to an end, he's determined to find work and stay in Nova Scotia. "They told us Canada is a cold country, but I think the warm hearts of Canadians make it warm," al Hariri told Radio-Canada. "We like Canadians. I call it the land of peace." Al Hariri and his family of six arrived Feb. 5, which means he'll be responsible for his family's financial well-being in less than two months. (CBC)

Measuring parliamentary production a year after the Liberals took over management

Peter Van Loan, government House leader for much of the Conservative Party's recent time in office, could sound a bit like the floor manager of a statute factory when discussing the business of Parliament. His was a House of Commons that was "hard-working, orderly and productive." "In 2014, our government saw 42 bills make it into the statute book, breaking our government's record of 40 new laws, set last year, following the 38 bills passed in 2007," he enthused at the end of 2014 in a news release headlined, "Harper government heralds record legislative productivity." (CBC)

Provinces unimpressed by Trudeau government over health care funding

Provincial ministers are criticizing what they describe as a lacklustre take-it-or-leave-it offer delivered by the Trudeau government ahead of what have become increasingly bitter talks around federal health-care funding. Several provinces insisted Sunday that a proposal by the federal Liberals on health funding was presented as an ultimatum – even though they maintain there hadn’t been any real negotiations. On top of that, the provincial ministers argue that Ottawa’s latest offer would likely leave provincial health budgets in an even worse financial situation than if the Liberals were proceeding with what they had promised in their 2015 campaign platform. (Global)

Only 28 Americans applied for Canadian citizenship after Donald Trump was elected

Remember all those people who said they would move to Canada if Donald Trump got elected United States president? It turns out most of them were talking nonsense. Canada received just 28 asylum requests from US citizens in November after the vote. (Metro.co.uk)

Undercover SAS troops will be deployed to protect Christmas shoppers and New Year's Eve revellers against ISIS as hundreds of fighters return home to the UK

SAS anti-terror troops will mingle with Christmas shoppers and New Year's Eve revellers to counter the threat from returning ISIS fighters. Elite troopers will operate undercover in major British cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. They will work closely with MI5 intelligence officers to identify terror suspects, while Army bomb disposal experts will also be on hand to deal with suspicious devices. (Daily Mail)

Supporters of impeached SKorean leader clash with protesters

Supporters of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye clashed with anti-Park protesters Saturday, as large crowds of demonstrators again gathered in Seoul to demand the scandal-ridden leader's immediate ouster. The historically large weekend protests over an explosive corruption scandal pushed South Korea's opposition-controlled parliament to vote this month to impeach Park. The impeachment suspended Park's powers until the constitutional Court decides whether she should permanently step down or be reinstated. (Canadian Press)

China stole US underwater drone in South China Sea as Americans watched

A Chinese Navy ship stole an American underwater research drone while a U.S. crew was watching, in a South China Sea area contested by the Chinese and the Philippines, U.S. defense officials told Fox News on Friday. The incident occurred around noon Thursday local time approximately 40 miles west of the Philippines and about 150 miles from Scarborough Shoal. For days, the Chinese ship had been shadowing the American ship USNS Bowditch, which deployed the drone, a Slocum Glider. (FOX)

 

EDITORIALS AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: The stupid things Trudeau says

For Canadians who pay attention to Trudeau, this is nothing new. Trudeau has a long history of saying strange and off-putting things; things that make many Canadians feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. The truth about Trudeau is, he isn’t always very serious. (Toronto Sun)

Ezra Levant: New book – “Stupid Things Trudeau Says”

Rebel contributor Candice Malcolm joins us to talk about her NEW book: “Stupid Things Trudeau Says” (available HERE). She's collected the PM's 50 dumbest and most embarrassing quotes (so far…) It’s a funny book, but it’s a serious problem that the man who says these crazy things is the prime minister. (Rebel)

Lorne Gunter: Christmas is for everyone, so let’s celebrate it

On Wednesday, when Parliament rose for its Christmas recess, the Liberal caucus, their staffers, spouses and other invitees rushed over to Ottawa’s Shaw Conference Centre for their gala “holiday” party. Not Christmas, “holiday.” The Libs refuse to say whether they expunged the word “Christmas” deliberately. But they were very careful to avoid its use in official communications, so its omission amounts to the same thing (Toronto Sun)

Steven Zhou: Canada's Trump copycats must be held accountable

Canadian politicians like Kellie Leitch who hope to appropriate the rhetoric and strategy of right-wing populism should understand the real life implications of such an approach. Donald Trump was successful in employing this scheme for his campaign, but at real cost to his country: the FBI reported a 6.7 per cent rise in hate crimes for 2015 over the year earlier, fuelled by a 67 per cent increase in anti-Muslim attacks. If Leitch and other copycats want to go down that road, they should be held accountable for doing so. (CBC)

Globe and Mail: Syrian refugees need better ways to reconnect with their families

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had coffee with Syrian refugees in Toronto recently, and discussed the successes and challenges of their first year in Canada. Two days later, the Senate Sub-committee on Human Rights released its most recent report on the Syrian refugee resettlement. In both cases the message was clear: In order to thrive in Canada, refugees need their families around them. (Globe and Mail)

Campbell Clark: Can Trudeau find a self-interest angle in fundraising reform?

If you’re wondering how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might revamp federal fundraising rules to get out of the cash-for-access controversy, it’s worth looking at the lessons of history: The great leaps in federal fundraising ethics have gone hand in hand with screwing over the other guy. Jean Chrétien did it, adopting new rules that made life difficult for his inside-the-party rival, Paul Martin. Stephen Harper did it – realizing that lower donation limits would give his Conservatives a valuable edge over the Liberals. So it should be no surprise that some of the Liberal MPs leaving the Commons last week for Christmas break were thinking there must be a way to dump a lump of coal on opponents. (Globe and Mail)

Lorrie Goldstein: Trudeau channels Trump

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump found common ground last week. It was on the issue of public concerns about the role private money may play in influencing their respective government’s decisions. Both Trudeau and Trump blamed the media for creating the controversy, as opposed to anything they had done. For Trudeau, the concern is over Liberal cash-for-access fundraising. (Toronto Sun)

Thomas Walkom: Justin Trudeau’s neo-liberalism with a human face

Justin Trudeau promised neo-liberalism with a human face. Those weren’t the words he used. But the phrase expresses the gist of the election campaign he successfully waged just over a year ago. In that campaign, Trudeau said his Liberals would pursue most of Conservative Stephen Harper’s economic goals — including resource exploitation, pipelines and free trade. But they would do so in a way that distributed the proceeds more equitably. In effect, he promised to be Tony Blair to Harper’s Margaret Thatcher — doing much the same as his political nemesis, but in a more acceptable manner. He is at least partially succeeding. (Toronto Star)

Jim Warren: How Trudeau can lead on the world stage in 2017

Two major global political events in 2016 have created massive political upheaval in the western world. They present a unique opportunity in 2017 for Justin Trudeau and Canada to take centre stage as influencers on global decisions. This year has brought about massive political change to our two closest allies – England and the United States. It is an opportunity for Trudeau and Canada to emulate the role former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson played. (Toronto Sun)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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