True North Initiative: News Scan 12 26 16

TOP STORIES

Canada limits the number of privately sponsored Syrian refugee applicants in 2017

Private sponsors are scrambling to raise funds and complete applications for Syrian refugees after the Canadian government revealed that in 2017 there will be cap of 1,000 new applicants under a particular type of private sponsorship. Private refugee sponsorships aren't all the same: there are larger groups known as sponsorship agreement holders (SAH), and smaller groups in which individuals come together to be community sponsors, also known as a "group of five" sponsorships. "We are in shock and dismay," said Canadian sponsor Vania Davidovic. (CBC)

Ottawa’s new cap on refugee applications upsets sponsors

The federal government will cap new applications for private sponsorship of Syrian and Iraqi refugees at 1,000 in 2017, due to a backlog and long wait times faced by those whose applications are still being processed. But some feel the move, announced earlier this week by Citizenship and Immigration Minister John McCallum, betrays the positive global perception Canada has seen since late last year when the Liberals took office and committed to accepting more refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria. “The government’s playing politics here, on the one hand saying we should be celebrated for being welcoming, and then on the other hand stopping people from being able to get to safety,” said Lesley Wood, a sociology professor at York University who has sponsored two Syrian refugee families. (Toronto Star)

1 year later, most Syrian refugees dream of being independent Canadians

Every Syrian family who has arrived in the last year has a story like this. Dec. 21 marked the first anniversary of government-assisted Syrian refugees arriving in Hamilton — more than 1,100 so far. That's not including those privately sponsored, like Saloum and Albotros. The couple are faring better than most. They have a social circle through Ancaster Village Church, where a group sponsored them. They speak English. As of two weeks ago, they even have full-time jobs. Albotros serves coffee at a local car dealership. Saloum works in sales, same as he did in Syria. (CBC)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Why Canada’s private sponsorship refugee system is a model for the world: expert

Canada’s private sponsorship model for refugees has been gaining attention and praise, the latest coming from an advisor to the United Nations who is also the senior European policy fellow with the Migration Policy Institute. “Absolutely,” Gregory Maniatis said when asked if Canada has the best practice in the world. “And it’s unique in the world … there’s no place else that does it at the level of Canada, in terms of the scale of it, nor the quality.” (Global)

Canadians working in U.S. under NAFTA exemption worry about future under Trump

Canadian Jason Dumelie spends most of his time deciphering and studying DNA sequences. But lately he's putting a lot of thought into something almost as complicated: his future. As a Canadian working in the U.S. under NAFTA, he wonders if he could be collateral damage should president-elect Donald Trump follow through on one of his biggest promises. (CBC)

Kevin O'Leary gauges support for Tory leadership bid

Businessman and media personality Kevin O’Leary has launched an “exploratory committee” to help gauge public support for a possible run at the leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party as he looks to “exorcize” the current Liberal government from Ottawa in 2019. In a video posted to his Facebook page Friday, O’Leary says the committee will help determine whether he is the right person to run for party leader. O’Leary has said for months that he is considering running for the political job. (CTV)

Liberal pledges on innovation and tax credits pose conflict

The challenge for Finance Minister Bill Morneau is that the government has also promised to make Canada more innovative and attractive to investors. Critics of capital gains taxes argue they hurt innovation by limiting the amount of money in the economy that is free to be re-invested in new projects. There are also numerous voices – including former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge’s – warning federal Liberals to rein in the tax-the-rich agenda in light of plans in Republican-controlled Washington to dramatically reduce personal and business taxes (Globe and Mail)

The secret lives of Toronto’s Chinese bottle ladies

Despite appearances, some people insist on believing the Chinese bottle ladies are secret millionaires. With Chinese money flooding into Canadian real estate, the idea that all Chinese immigrants drive luxury cars has spread, the flip side of the old prejudice that all newcomers must be poor and ignorant. (Globe and Mail)

Harper tweets support for Trump

Former prime minister Stephen Harper tweeted support for U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s push for a veto of a United Nations resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements Friday. In the end, the Obama administration opted to abstain from the vote, a departure from the U.S.’s usual practice of shielding Israeli, the wire service reports. Harper, known for his vocal support of Israel while in power, thanked Trump for his public opposition to a UN Security Council resolution. The resolution is sponsored by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal and the council is supposed to vote on it today. (IPolitics)

Is Canada’s UN Security Council bid still worth it?

When the Liberals made the bid for a seat at the United Nations Security Council one of their top international priorities, they probably didn’t foresee the wave of isolationism and populism ready to sweep over the United States and Europe in 2016. But there’s still value in winning access to the UN’s premier forum for international politics, experts say, even in a time of mistrust in multilateral institutions. The Liberals will announce early next year where in Africa they intend to send a new peacekeeping force of up to 600 Canadian Forces members and 150 police officers. The mission — or missions — will cost upwards of $450 million and could expose Canadian soldiers to the most direct risk they’ve seen since the war in Afghanistan. (Toronto Star)

How Donald Trump helped build Canada’s ice-rink empire

As the story goes, the future U.S. president woke at 6 a.m. on May 22 and read a front-page story in The New York Times about a skating rink that left him bristling with rage. But because this was 1986 – and not 2016 – Donald Trump did not tweet venom; rather, he put pen to paper and drafted a scathing letter to his nemesis Ed Koch, then mayor of New York. The fateful battle that followed over one of Manhattan’s public jewels, Wollman Rink, would launch a grand makeover of Mr. Trump’s public persona – from second-rate developer into can-do tycoon fit to eradicate government mismanagement – that he has ridden all the way to the White House. (Globe and Mail)

Putin orders investigation into deadly Russian plane crash with 92 aboard

Backed by ships, helicopters and drones, Russian rescue teams searched Sunday for victims after a Russian plane carrying 92 people to Syria crashed into the Black Sea shortly after takeoff. Investigators said they are looking into every possible cause for the crash, including a terror attack. All 84 passengers and eight crew members aboard the Soviet-built Tu-154 plane operated by the Russian military are believed to have died when it crashed two minutes after taking off at 5:25 a.m. local time in good weather from the southern Russian city of Sochi. (CBC)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Candice Malcolm: Christians are persecuted around the world

Christians are under attack around the world. While Christians in Canada are peacefully observing and celebrating Christmas, many others around the world aren’t granted this basic freedom. Earlier this week, a militant Islamist deliberately rammed a transport truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin. His rampage left 12 people dead and another 48 injured. German police have confirmed that this was a jihadist terrorist attack, which they believe was carried out by Tunisian migrant Anis Amri. The suspect was killed by police in Milan four days after the attack. The terrorist purposely targeted Christians. And because of his attack, Christmas markets across Europe and North America have had to ramp up security and live in fear of another attack. (Toronto Sun)

Candice Malcolm: Study: Christians most persecuted religious group

According to a recent Pew Research study, Christians in 52 per cent of the world’s countries are discriminated against or mistreated in some way. Christians are now the most persecuted religious group in the world. Over the past century, millions of Christians have been killed or driven away by hostile governments and aggressive insurgencies. (Rebel)

Chris Selley: Canada, we had dumb luck in 2016. In 2017, let’s stop being smug about terrorism

As I write this, police across Europe have their eyes peeled for Anis Amri, who on Monday allegedly murdered a Polish truck driver, took his vehicle and fatally mowed down 11 people at a Christmas market in Berlin. It is, one hopes, the final act of terrorism the continent endures this year. (National Post)

Anthony Furey: Monsef, Castro, Elbowgate were worst of 2016

Many in the international community at first thought Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s fond statement on the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was a parody. Nope. It was, much to Canada’s embarrassment, real. People across the political spectrum reacted in shock at what seemed a horribly naive remark. Then again, this is the same person who said he admired China’s “basic dictatorship”.  A trend has emerged. (Toronto Sun)

Faith Goldy: The truth about the Crusades and Islam

Why is it that every time there is an Islamist terrorist attack culture, relativists without a clue bring up the Crusades? Newsflash: The Crusades were a response to over 400 years of Muslim aggression — because Islam is not a religion of peace, and never has been. (Rebel)

Steven Zhou: Press freedom in Canada eroded by post-9/11 obsession with security

Canada's news media are still living under the entrenched legacy of Stephen Harper — like everything and everyone else in this country. The previous prime minister ushered in what the Paris-based press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders (known by its French acronym, RSF) refers to as a "Dark Age" of Canadian journalism. Even with a change at the executive level, old habits that characterize the legacy of such an age haven't left Canada's institutions. Leaders don't stick around forever, but the policies they entrench usually outlast their tenure in office. (CBC)

Celine Cooper: Fake news in the 'post-truth' era

This has been, to paraphrase a much loved children’s book by Judith Viorst, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. It may not have actually been the worst year ever, despite a lot of online hyperbole. But I do think 2016 deserves some special mention, possibly as a turning point in how we ascribe value (or not) to truth and meaning in this technological age (Montreal Gazette)

National Post View: In the era of fake news, the power of true words adopts a holy light

Post-truth seems very current, at least in its application to the politics of the year past. But the idea that words are just words, waiting for us to assign them whatever meaning we wish, is an old philosophical error. It has been contested for centuries by a philosophical realism, which insists that things have natures and the words we use to refer to them therefore have substantial content. Words having meanings, and those meanings are about real things. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Rating 14 Trudeau Ministers: None show high negatives

In our final survey of the year, we asked Canadians to give us their impressions of a wide range of people including 14 current federal Cabinet Ministers (we intend to gather impressions of other Ministers in an upcoming survey). Here are the highlights (Abacus Data)