True North Initiative: News Scan 12 20 16

TOP STORIES

 Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov assassinated in Ankara

The Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot in the back and killed as he gave a speech at an Ankara art gallery on Monday by an off-duty police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” and “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire. President Tayyip Erdogan, in a video message to the nation, cast the attack as an attempt to undermine NATO-member Turkey’s relations with Russia - ties long tested by the war in Syria. He said he had agreed in a telephone call with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to step up cooperation in fighting terrorism. (Globe and Mail) (CBC)

Truck rams into Berlin Christmas market, killing 12

A suspect has been arrested after a truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Monday. At least 12 people are dead and 48 injured. Police said they are still investigating why the truck veered off the road into the market, tearing through tables and wooden stands. Berlin's top security official, State Interior Minister Andreas Geisel, said he didn't want to speculate, but that the circumstances pointed to an attack. The White House said it "appears to have been a terrorist attack." (CBC)

Berlin Christmas market attack suspect a refugee, security sources say

The man suspected of deliberately ramming a large truck into a Christmas market in Berlin is a refugee from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, two German intelligence officials and a police official told CNN. The sources said the suspect in Monday evening's attack, which killed 12 people and injured dozens more, arrived in Passau, a city on Germany's border with Austria, on December 31, 2015, after traveling through the Balkans. (CNN)

Merkel says it would be 'sickening' if Christmas market attacker is confirmed to be a refugee

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is "shocked, shaken and deeply saddened" by the attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed at least 12 people Monday. Merkel told reporters on Tuesday that it would be "particularly sickening" if it turns out the attacker was an asylum-seeker who sought refuge in Germany. A German security source said the suspect was a 23-year-old migrant from Pakistan known to police for committing minor offences. The source said the man had been staying at a refugee accommodation centre in the now defunct Tempelhof airport. (CBC)

Canadian ISIL fighter wanted by RCMP may have been killed in missile strike in Syria: document

A Canadian wanted by the RCMP after he allegedly left Ottawa to join ISIL may have been killed in a missile strike in Syria more than two years ago, according to a newly released court document. Khadar Hassan Khalib was charged with two terrorism offences in February 2015, along with John Maguire and alleged recruiter Awso Peshdary. But the document suggested Khalib died on Nov. 25, 2014. (National Post)

Dion chose jobs over human rights when approving Saudi arms deal, court hears

Lawyers behind a court bid to block a massive sale of weaponized fighting vehicles to Saudi Arabia argued in Federal Court on Monday that Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion ignored serious human-rights violations in favour of preserving jobs when he authorized the export of these machines in April. A $15-billion deal – the largest advanced manufacturing export contract in Canadian history – has landed before a federal court judge in Montreal who must decide whether the law demands she place human rights above politics and a huge industrial benefit. (Globe and Mail)

Canadian hostage, children seen in just-released Taliban video

The two sons born in captivity to hostages Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman were shown for the first time in a video posted Monday as the couple pleaded for their family’s release, asking U.S. President Barack Obama to think about his “legacy” and free them from their “Kafkaesque nightmare.” Boyle, 33, who is Canadian, and Coleman, his 31-year-old American wife, have been held by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network since October 2012. They were kidnapped near Kabul, Afghanistan, during a backpacking trip through Central Asia. (Toronto Star)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Trudeau condemns shooting in Turkey, offers condolences to diplomat’s family

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the cold-blooded shooting of the Russian ambassador in Turkey is a grim reminder of the threats faced by all diplomats — including Canada's — while serving abroad. Andrei Karlov was shot to death Monday at the opening of a photo exhibit in Ankara by a man who was later killed by police. Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion offered their condolences to Russia and the family of slain Russian envoy. (Canadian Press)

'A wonderful person:' Linda Vatcher remembered after death in Jordan

Former colleagues and community members are remembering Linda Vatcher, a Canadian tourist killed in an armed attack in Jordan on Sunday. Vatcher, 62, was originally from Burgeo, N.L., but spent decades living in Corner Brook. She retired from teaching at C.C. Loughlin Elementary School in Corner Brook and was an active volunteer at the Salvation Army Food Bank for five years. Vatcher was in Jordan to visit her son, Christopher, when gunmen struck multiple locations in Karak on Sunday. (CBC)

Despite skepticism, O’Leary insists he’s ‘dead serious’ about Tory leadership bid

From the moment he was first mentioned as a potential candidate for the Conservative leadership, the question about Kevin O’Leary has been whether he was seriously considering a bid or simply encouraging the attention to fuel his own personal brand.  On Monday, O’Leary insisted he was indeed serious, offering more insight into his efforts to organize a team, and said that his formal entry into the race is just a technicality. (Canada.com)

U.S. launches investigations into Canadian softwood lumber dispute

The U.S. government says it is launching investigations to determine whether softwood lumber imports from Canada were dumped into the country and harmed the American forestry sector. The U.S. Commerce Department says it will work with the U.S. International Trade Commission to examine allegations that wood was dumped at less than its fair value and that Canadian forestry firms received unfair financial assistance from governments. (Canadian Press)

Justin Trudeau still in strong position in polls, but recent drop suggests vulnerability

For most of 2016, public support for Justin Trudeau's Liberals appeared to be invulnerable to the slings and arrows of the opposition. But a series of recent polls suggests some of the attacks might be leaving a mark — though the extent of the damage isn't entirely clear just yet. The first indication of Trudeau's troubles came a little over a week ago in a Forum Research poll conducted for the Toronto Star. It was the first survey done in the aftermath of the government's decision to approve two oil pipelines and reject a third. It was also taken as the controversy surrounding the prime minister's attendance at $1,500-per-ticket fundraising events was in full tilt. (CBC)

Danish beauty who fought ISIS jailed while jihadis go free

A courageous Danish beauty who fought ISIS terrorists has been jailed while jihadis returning from the Middle East walk free. The decision by the Danish government to cage Joanna Palani, 23, who fought alongside the Kurdish peshmerga in Iraq and then the YPG militia in Syria, has triggered outrage in the European nation. More troubling: ISIS has put a US$1 million bounty on her head, according to reports. (Toronto Sun)

Electors remain faithful to Trump and select him as official winner

Donald Trump surpassed the necessary 270 votes in the Electoral College on Monday, taking the next step in the official process to become President. Trump received 304 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton's 227. Seven "faithless" electors voted for other candidates, costing Trump two votes and Clinton four. Hawaii's votes -- three for Clinton and one breaking from the state's results and supporting Bernie Sanders -- were the last to be counted. (CNN)

IMF head Christine Lagarde found guilty in French negligence court case

The high-flying career of Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, hung in the balance Monday after a special French court convicted her of negligence for not seeking to block a fraudulent 2008 arbitration award to a politically connected tycoon while she was France's finance minister. The IMF said it expected its board to meet "shortly" to consider the ruling in Paris. After a weeklong trial, France's Court of Justice of the Republic found Lagarde guilty on one count of negligence but spared her jail time and a criminal record. The 60-year-old IMF leader had risked a year of imprisonment and a fine. (CBC)

 

EDITORIALS AND OPINION PIECES

Ezra Levant: Another honour killing? Time to rethink Somali immigration to Canada

Two Somali women were found dead in their Ottawa home over the weekend: Asma A-Noor, age 32, and her sister Nasiba A-Noor, age 29. Their brother, Musab A-Noor, has been charged with first and second degree murder. A double murder is always shocking — if you look at it from a Canadian point of view. Because it is actually common in Muslim countries. If the allegations against the brother are proved true, this will be the latest honour murder in Canada. (Rebel)

Bree Akesson: Respond to Aleppo by sponsoring a Syrian family

Due to the ongoing violence in cities such as Aleppo, millions of Syrians have fled and are living in neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon. In fact, one-in-four people living in Lebanon today is a refugee. But life for Syrian families living in Lebanon continue to struggle with unemployment, limited access to education, and discrimination from local residents. (Toronto Star)

Jane Lytvynenko: Tories want to cut red tape for skilled immigrants. What else is new?

As many Canadians already know, largely because politicians have long promised to make life better for skilled immigrants, my mom’s experience is not unique. In a 2013 paper called Immigrant Skill Utilization: Trends and Policy Issues, University of Toronto researchers estimated that, “The value of work lost to the Canadian economy grew from about $4.80 billion annually in 1996 to about $11.37 billion in 2006,” because immigrants’ skills are under-utilized. Those numbers are slightly outdated because the Harper government introduced measures to combat the problem during its tenure, but the unemployment rate for new immigrants remains stubbornly high. (Macleans)

Tasha Kheiriddin: Conservatives, race and the chicken-and-egg question

Sensible immigration policy does not mean demonizing differences, nor does it mean talking in code about “values”. It means correlating Canada’s labour needs with immigrants’ skills, ensuring that people who come here are equipped to succeed, not depend on the state, and showing compassion for those fleeing oppression and discrimination. We already “screen” immigrants for those things. Calling for more is not sound policy. It’s just self-serving politics. (IPolitics)

Shree Paradkar: Viewing Canadian immigrants’ parents as a burden is hypocrisy

In this season of sharing and caring, spare a thought for families ripped apart, not by unexpected tragedy, but by deliberate Canadian policies. Many Canadians — not just white, but those whose families migrated generations ago and are not separated themselves — object to family reunification. Why allow immigrant parents and grandparents to live in Canada at all? Don’t they just strain a system already groaning under the weight of an aging population? These questions, often from those who espouse “family values,” are not just staggeringly lacking in empathy, they barrel down on double standards. (Toronto Star)

John Ivison: Feds stand firm on health in face of provincial petty extortion

Somewhere in Canada, Stephen Harper is in danger of cracking a rib. The Liberal government had promised “collaborative federal leadership” when it came to the renewal of Canada’s $36-billion health accord. But that election promise was trampled beneath the feet of provincial health ministers rushing to waiting microphones to explain why they were rejecting the federal government’s inadequate offer. (National Post)

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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