True North Initiative: News Scan 01 05 17


Former CSIS director says expanded surveillance powers needed to prevent terror attacks

Former Canadian Security Intelligence Services director Ward Elcock says the spy agency needs expanded surveillance powers to address the risk of terror attacks on the scale of recent violence in Europe and Turkey. Elcock said modern technology has surpassed the legal framework for surveilling and foiling the threat of an attack. "Communications has moved on substantially from the days of alligator clips and copper wires," he said in an interview with Terry Milewski on CBC News Network's Power & Politics. (CBC)

Canadian immigration applications could soon be assessed by computers

Ottawa is quietly working on a plan to use computers to assess immigration applications and make some of the decisions currently made by immigration officers, the Star has learned. Since 2014, the Immigration Department has been developing what’s known as a “predictive analytics” system, which would evaluate applications in a way that’s similar to the work performed by officials today. The plan — part of the government’s modernization of a system plagued by backlogs and delays — is to use the technology to identify the merits of an immigration application, spot potential red flags for fraud and weigh all these factors to recommend whether an applicant should be accepted or refused. (Toronto Star)

Buried government report reveals looming fiscal crisis

A shocking new report quietly released by the federal government admits that their finances could collapse in the coming decades if politicians don’t make responsible choices. The report warns that lower than expected growth combined with higher program spending “would be sufficient to put at risk the fiscal sustainability of the federal government.” The forecast also assumes that the budget won’t be balanced until 2055. Projections show it peaking at $38.8 billion in 2035. (Toronto Sun)

Most Canadians want new tariffs on U.S. goods if Trump pulls out of NAFTA: Nanos survey

The majority of Canadians support or somewhat support applying new tariffs and duties to American-made goods if the U.S. pulls out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a Nanos survey conducted for CTV News. Nearly 50 per cent of Canadians said they support and 26 per cent said they somewhat support new tariffs on American goods if the U.S. were to pull out of NAFTA and apply new tariffs and duties on Canadian goods and materials entering the U.S. (CTV)

Conservative leadership hopeful Blaney proposes reducing immigration, refugee targets

Canada needs to reduce the number of immigrants and refugees it accepts in order to better integrate them, Conservative leadership hopeful Steven Blaney said Wednesday. The Quebec MP said the Trudeau government's targets have been "improvised for political purposes" and don't take into account the ability of cities and provinces to integrate newcomers. He accused the current government of "breaking the dreams" of immigrants and refugees who have not been able to find work in their fields or learn English or French. (CBC) (Huffington Post) (IPolitics)

How German cops learned to ignore political correctness to get tough on refugee crime

Those who have branded Europe, and Germany in particular, too weak and politically correct to stop a purported wave of crime brought on by the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers, should pay attention to the news. German police haven’t taken long to get their act together, and immigrant crime is down sharply. Their methods, which include a sort of racial– or at least behavioural –profiling may be controversial, but they are proving effective.  (National Post)

Turkish police execute more raids linked to deadly Istanbul nightclub attack

Police on Thursday conducted more raids in their hunt for the gunman that killed 39 people including a Canadian at an Istanbul nightclub, detaining several people at a housing complex in the city’s outskirts, the state-run news agency reported. (Global News)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Conservative hopeful Raitt turns campaign against O'Leary, Leitch

Conservative MP Lisa Raitt has launched a campaign against Kellie Leitch and Kevin O'Leary, two of her competitors in the party's leadership race, one day after Leitch drew the attention of Fox's business network. Leitch appeared on Fox Business Tuesday, billed as the Canadian parliamentarian who wants the same immigration screening as Donald Trump. The appearance came the day before Raitt announced her website focused on drawing attention to the weaknesses of the highest-profile Conservative leadership candidate and the highest-profile potential candidate (O'Leary is publicly considering joining the race and has launched an exploratory committee). (CTV) (Global News)

O’Leary welcomes ‘excitement’ after Raitt launches site to halt possible candidacy

Kevin O’Leary says attacks on him by Conservative leadership candidates are bringing badly needed excitement to the race, after Tory hopeful Lisa Raitt launched a website to stop the reality-TV star from entering the contest. Ms. Raitt on Wednesday announced a new campaign website,, and took aim at both Mr. O’Leary and Conservative candidate Kellie Leitch, who has proposed the idea of screening immigrants for anti-Canadian values. (Globe and Mail)

CSIS may have kept the Trudeau government in the dark about a secret spy database

In response to an access to information request filed by VICE News, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says it was “unable to locate any records” of memos or briefing notes on the secretive Operational Data Analysis Centre. The centre, which was kept mostly under wraps until a federal court decision in November, 2016, housed reams of data that was collected in the course of various CSIS investigations. During a judicial inquiry, CSIS admitted that it was running advanced data analytics on the trove of information to aid in its investigations. (VICE)

Ottawa woman upset with Canada's new lottery system for reuniting immigrants with family

An Ottawa woman who is trying to bring her parents to Canada from Ukraine is frustrated the already lengthy application process now also depends on luck. Olena Stetskevych said she was planning on submitting her application this year after working the required three years in Canada but now she — and everyone else who wants to submit an application — will have to enter a lottery to do so. (CBC)

Electronic travel authorization program trips up permanent residents

The federal government's electronic travel authorization (eTA) program continues to sow confusion among air travellers to Canada — even for those whose permanent resident status here ought to exempt them from the pre-screening program. (CBC)

Federal communications budget for eTAs 'inadequate,' says tourism group

Ottawa did not effectively communicate a new requirement to enter Canada that's become a source of confusion and frustration for travellers coming from abroad, says a national tourism organization. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada is urging Canadians to tell friends and family who plan to visit the country about the electronic travel authorization (eTA) in hopes of avoiding more confusion. (CBC)

Ottawa spending half a billion dollars for Canada’s 150th anniversary

The federal government is spending half a billion dollars to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation – with everything from a cross-country RV tour to a Parliament Hill extravaganza marking the occasion. The largest share of the money – $300-million – is being delivered by regional development agencies through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. The previous Conservative government created that fund to fix up public facilities and for community infrastructure, culture and recreation. It was given a $150-million budget shortly before the 2015 election. (Globe and Mail)

Airlines asked to confirm fitness-to-fly measures after pilot allegedly drunk

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau is seeking assurances from passenger airlines that they have up-to-date measures to confirm pilots' fitness to fly and are rigorously enforcing them. Garneau's move follows an incident last weekend in which a Sunwing Airlines pilot was accused of being so drunk that he passed out in the cockpit shortly before scheduled takeoff from Calgary. Miroslav Gronych has been charged with one count of having care and control of an aircraft while impaired and one count of having control of a plane while his blood alcohol level was above .08. (Canadian Press)

UK MPs call for immigration devolution

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration said a commission should be set up to examine how a devolved immigration system might work. It said the current system had "led to friction" between the UK and Scottish governments. But it acknowledged there would be major challenges to overcome. Immigration policy is currently the sole responsibility of Westminster, although the "shortage occupation list" allows Scottish businesses to offer particular jobs to non-EU nationals without first advertising them domestically. (BBC)

Migrants should have to learn English, say UK MPs and peers

Migrants should be expected to learn English before coming to the UK, or attend language classes when they arrive, a group of MPs and peers says. The cross-party group said speaking English was "the key to full participation in our society and economy". They also said ministers should consider letting different parts of the UK set their own immigration policy. The government said it was spending £20m on English language provision. (BBC) (The Sun)

Donald Trump backs Julian Assange over Russia hacking claim

President-elect Donald Trump has backed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in casting doubt on intelligence alleging Russian meddling in the US election. Mr Assange said Russia was not the source for the site's mass leak of emails from the Democratic Party. Mr Trump has now backed that view in a tweet. He wrote: "Assange... said Russians did not give him the info!" (BBC)

Julian Assange no longer an outcast as Trump, Palin among Republicans praising WikiLeaks founder

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted some praise on Tuesday for a man most Republicans wanted nothing to do with. He had seen Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, defend himself during an hour of friendly, prime-time questions on Fox News. And he was impressed. “Julian Assange said a ’14-year old could have hacked Podesta,’ ” Trump wrote. “Why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info.” (National Post)

Four questioned after ‘sickening’ video of attack on tied-up Chicago teen posted on Facebook

Chicago police said Wednesday that they’re investigating a video circulating on social media that appears to show several people beating a man at a residence. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference that four suspects, two males and two females, are in custody. Formal charges have not been filed. The victim, an 18-year-old who has “mental health challenges,” is recovering, Johnson said. He also called the video “sickening,” and Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said the suspects made “stupid decisions.” Police officials did not discuss the races of the suspects or victim, but the video appears to show a white teenager tied up and beaten as a group of young African-Americans shout profanities and insult President-elect Donald Trump. (National Post)

VIDEO: China is planning to turn Tibet into a tourist destination

(Globe and Mail)

BBC's 'Real Housewives of ISIS' Skit Causes Liberal Heads to Explode

A BBC comedy sketch depicting brides of ISIS terrorists in a reality show-style spoof is causing social justice warriors' heads to explode. (PJ Media)



Candice Malcolm: Trudeau will bury us in debt

When Canadians elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it was a $2 trillion mistake. And, no, that’s not just an opinion. The $2 trillion figure comes from the Government of Canada’s Department of Finance, in its annual update on long-term fiscal projections. The economic forecast was released this week, and the figures are stunning. (Toronto Sun)

Mark Milke: Why Canadian norms and values matter

It is time to demolish a nonsensical myth from last year that will no doubt reappear in this one: That a values test for would-be settlers in our peaceable kingdom would constitute prejudice. Actually, it would be a reflection of the necessity to unite around laudable ideas. It would be in contradistinction to countries where ethnicity or religion matter to citizenship, but not what is in one’s head. My bias: I favour immigration for economic reasons and because it helps invigorate a nation, treating it as a living organism and not as a dead trophy (Globe and Mail)

Robyn Urback: The big winner of the Conservative leadership race so far — Justin Trudeau

For Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, not only are these vacuous gestures a welcome distraction from some of the issues he hoped to leave behind at the end of 2016 — his cash-for-access dinners, his pipeline quagmire, his government's handling of the electoral reform file, to name a few — but they also help to sustain the notion that not a single candidate among the Conservatives' cast of candidates poses a plausible challenge to his second term. Not yet, anyway. (CBC)

Andrew Coyne: Reviving per-vote subsidy would be rewarding bad behaviour

The trial of Socrates took place in two stages. In the first, the jury of 500 Athenians was asked to decide whether he was guilty, as charged, of impiety and corrupting the youth. A majority found that he was. In the second, the same jury was called upon to decide what penalty he should face. The prosecution recommended death. Socrates, ever the provocateur, proposed that he be provided with free meals for life. The jury favoured the prosecution’s suggestion by an increased majority, meaning some jurors who believed Socrates was innocent were nevertheless persuaded he should be put to death. The moral of the story: be careful what you ask for. (

Garnett Genuis: Conservative Voters Want A Leader With Something New To Say

Imitation is the easiest game to play in politics. Trying to become the next Ronald Reagan, the next Pierre Trudeau, the next Peter Lougheed, etc. is a lot easier than being and selling yourself. Authentic leaders, as opposed to those imitating leaders, always have a harder job to do, but are almost always more successful. (Huffington Post)

Sheema Khan: Address the radicalization of Muslim youth head-on

Currently, there are scant resources for parents about radicalization. Just as there has been an explosion of parental resources on Internet safety for children, so too should there be development of parental workshops on prevention of radicalization, for parents are often the first to notice subtle changes in their children. What should parents be aware of? How do they speak to their children? What signs should they look for? And what resources are available in case one’s child seems to have fallen prey? (Globe and Mail)