True North Initiative: News Scan 01 06 17


Canada open to global economy amid rising threat of protectionism: Freeland

International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland is bullish about Canada’s future despite the growing threat of protectionism in the United States and the world. Ms. Freeland portrayed Canada on Thursday as a global bulwark against populism and protectionism. While other countries build walls, Canada is opening its doors to trade and immigration, she said. “The complexity of the international situation presents enormous possibilities for Canada,” she told the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations. “I believe we are the best-placed country in the world to emerge from this complexity.” (Globe and Mail) (Macleans)

Ottawa vows prudent health spending as federal report projects decades of deficits

The federal cupboard is bare as Finance Minister Bill Morneau prepares the Liberal government’s second budget and fends off provincial calls to boost transfers for health care, new long-term forecasts from Finance Canada officials suggest. A federal report projects decades of deficits, and in response, Mr. Morneau is promising to act with prudence on health-care spending. Finance Canada’s report is the federal government’s first update to its long-term fiscal projections since the fall of 2014. The decades of surpluses Ottawa projected just two years ago have shifted to decades of annual deficits that will run beyond 2050. (Globe and Mail)

Lottery system has merit, but also flaws, says immigration lawyer

A change to the way immigrants apply to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada has been poorly executed and is unfair, according to a Kitchener immigration lawyer. Jennifer Roggemann said the federal government announced in mid-December the system would change from first-come, first-serve to a lottery system. (CBC)

Anger, frustration over family reunification lottery

When Immigration Minister John McCallum announced in December that Canada’s family reunification program would be subject to a new lottery system in 2017, he said the change would ensure a fair process for all applicants. But some say the move is anything but fair, forcing those who have already spent considerable time and money preparing sponsorship applications to face the possibility that their parents or grandparents may never be considered for entry to Canada. (CTV)

Couple entrapped by police in terror plot sting don't need peace bond, defence says

Crown lawyers in British Columbia are trying to use a peace bond hearing as a second chance to prosecute a man freed after a judge ruled police had manipulated him into carrying out a terrorist act, his lawyer says. Marilyn Sandford, who represents John Nuttall, told a provincial court judge on Thursday that a push by the Crown to submit evidence that was already ruled on during her client's earlier terrorism trial is unfair and illegal. Lawyers for Nuttall and his common-law wife Amanda Korody are arguing in advance of a planned peace bond hearing that could force them to be of good behaviour and obey conditions set by the court. (CTV) (Toronto Star)

Crown drops charges against suspected terrorist

Federal prosecutors have dropped their case against suspected Ottawa terrorist Tevis Gonyou-McLean, who stood accused of threatening to avenge last year’s death of ISIS supporter Aaron Driver. Gonyou-McLean’s arrest made national headlines but the alleged threat, which he denies, has not been revealed until now. (

Foreigners who sign up to fight ISIS now face wrath of Turkish army

Canadians who travel to fight for the Syrian Kurdish YPG have already accepted the dangers inherent in battling a group like ISIS. But now they also risk finding themselves embroiled in a conflict with the region's most powerful military: Canada's NATO ally Turkey. (CBC)

Canadian woman in Turkey charged for allegedly ‘insulting’ president on Facebook: lawyer

A Canadian woman has been arrested in Turkey for allegedly insulting the country’s president in comments posted on Facebook, her Turkish lawyer said Thursday. Ece Heper, 50, was arrested in the city of Kars in northeastern Turkey, and charged on Dec. 30, Sertac Celikkaleli told The Canadian Press. Heper, a dual Canadian-Turkish citizen, had been in the country since mid-November, according to her friends. (Global News)

Ethics watchdog won’t clarify timing around $200,000 Trudeau Foundation donation

The office of Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson says it cannot answer questions about the timing of Justin Trudeau’s involvement with the Trudeau Foundation because of “confidentiality” reasons. (


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Erin O'Toole unveils immigration policy

Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole says that as prime minister, he would prioritize refugee resettlement to Yazidi people and Afghan interpreters who served alongside Canadian Armed Forced during the Afghanistan war. O’Toole announced his immigration platform Tuesday afternoon in a press release, and says that in addition to Yazidis – who are being persecuted by ISIS – remaining interpreters who served bravely during the Afghanistan war “are still left behind” and should be a priority for resettlement. (IPolitics)

Federal government’s refusal to let widow into Canada 'out of line'

For 18 months, Christopher Campbell-Durufle has been trying to convince immigration officials that his mother-in-law in Colombia is a legitimate traveller with no intent to overstay her welcome in Canada. Since 2015 the Toronto man has made three failed attempts to help Ofelia Chavez Ruiz obtain a visitor visa to see him and his wife but could not figure out the reasons for the rejections, which occurred despite documentation showing the 76-year-old woman’s strong ties — and desire to return — to her homeland. (Toronto Star)

'They almost froze to death': Refugees frostbitten after walking to Manitoba border

Two men from Ghana are recovering on the burn ward of a Winnipeg hospital after getting lost near the Emerson border on Christmas Eve after fleeing the United States. The men aged 24 and 34 were found on Highway 75 just north of Letellier, Man., on the morning of Christmas Eve after walking in the cold for several hours. A truck driver, who has not come forward publicly, stopped to help the men. (Yahoo)

Negotiations underway in Syria to recover body of Canadian fighter from ISIL

Negotiations are underway to recover the body of a Canadian man killed while fighting Islamic State militants in Syria, a leader of Toronto's Kurdish community said Thursday. Nazzareno Tassone, 24, was killed in the city of Raqqa on Dec. 21 while fighting alongside Kurdish forces, according to the Kurdish People's Defense Units, a U.S.-backed group also known as the YPG. His family only learned of his death this week when a letter from the YPG was delivered to their Niagara Falls, Ont, home by police and members of the Toronto Kurdish Community Centre. (Canadian Press)

U.S. ambassadors to Canada, other countries to soon step down: report

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump's transition team has issued a blanket mandate requiring politically appointed ambassadors installed by President Barack Obama to leave their posts by Inauguration Day, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand said on Friday. (CBC)

Lawyers urge government to hire judges to fix 'unacceptable delays' in criminal justice system

The Canadian Bar Association has written a letter to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould saying the shortage of judges is contributing to an "acute access to justice problem in Canada." The shortage is causing court delays that have "seriously undermined public confidence in our justice system," the letter reads. (CBC)

What happens to Canada should Queen Elizabeth II die: The behind-the-scenes plans

The Queen is up and about after a brutal cold kept her in bed for nearly two weeks throughout the holidays. But the health scare put thousands of people around the world on notice that the end of the Elizabethan Age might be nigh. This is particularly true of Canada: Aside from the U.K. itself, nobody has spent more time drilling for the death of Queen Elizabeth II than us.  Below, a partial list of all the behind-the-scenes plans and mechanisms designed to click into place the moment “long live the King!” peals out from Great Britain. (

Canada No. 1 on New York Times list of top 2017 travel destinations

The New York Times has named Canada — the entire 9.985 million square kilometre country — its top travel destination for 2017. Canada is "a world unto itself, with cosmopolitan cities, barely explored natural wonders and everything in between," says the newspaper. It's a solid shout-out from our neighbours to the south, just in time for the country's 150th anniversary of Confederation. (CBC)

Bulgaria and India are buying new fighter jets — and unlike Canada, it won’t take them 10 years

India and Bulgaria have launched competitions to buy new fighter jets, but unlike Canada they expect the process to take just a couple of years. The speedy purchase of much-needed jets for those countries has raised questions about why it will take the Canadian government more than 10 years to replace the military’s aging fleet of CF-18s. (National Post)

UK should adopt Canada-style immigration policy to soothe Brexit negotiations; lawmakers

Britain ought to introduce a regional immigration system akin to Canada's visa policy to aid Brexit negotiations, according to a panel of U.K. based lawmakers. Should the U.K. heed the advice, central government would be required to devolve immigration powers to local administrations. This would enable regional authorities to set quotas based on the "economic and cultural needs" of each area, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) said in a report published on Thursday. (CNBC)

Britain has world’s top economy

Britain ended last year as the strongest of the world’s advanced economies with growth accelerating in the six months after the Brexit vote. Business activity hit a 17-month high last month, meaning that the economy grew by 2.2 per cent last year — more than the six other leading nations, including the US, Germany and Japan. (The Times)

Trump hits Toyota in latest broadside against carmakers and Mexico

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump targeted Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) on Thursday, threatening to impose a hefty fee on the world's largest automaker if it builds its Corolla cars for the U.S. market at a plant in Mexico. "Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax," Trump said in a post on Twitter. (Reuters)

China Media Warn Trump of ‘Big Sticks’ If He Seeks Trade War

Chinese state media warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that he’ll be met with “big sticks” if he tries to ignite a trade war or further strain ties. “There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce, but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door -- they both await Americans,” the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper wrote in an editorial Thursday. The article was published in response to Trump picking Robert Lighthizer, a former trade official in the Ronald Reagan administration who has criticized Beijing’s trade practices, as U.S. trade representative. (Bloomberg)

Trump's team tries to stifle rift on Russia

A war is brewing among Donald Trump’s advisers over how to deal with Russia and Vladimir Putin — and his team is trying to keep it from breaking out into the open. As the president-elect's top national security picks prepare to testify before Congress starting next week, his transition team is plotting ways to prevent a public spectacle that airs their most wildly divergent assessments of the threat Russia poses, according to two members of the Trump camp directly involved in the deliberations. (Politico)

Trump considering plans to restructure intelligence agency

President-elect Donald Trump is considering plans to restructure and slim down a top U.S. intelligence agency, a person familiar with the discussions said Thursday. The move comes after Trump questioned the intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered with the presidential election on his behalf. (Canadian Press)

Hate crime, battery charges filed in 'sickening' Facebook Live attack on disabled man

Hate crime and battery charges have been filed against four black suspects accused of beating a mentally disabled white man and broadcasting the attack live on Facebook. "The actions in that video are reprehensible; that along with racism have absolutely no place in the city of Chicago," said police Supt. Eddie Johnson. "There was never a question whether or not this incident qualified as being investigated as a hate crime," Johnson said. But, he added, "we need to base the investigation based on facts and not emotion." (CBC)



Candice Malcolm: Tory leadership hopefuls must lead the fiscal charge

After months of searching for an issue to differentiate themselves from the Trudeau Liberals, Conservative leadership hopefuls may have finally found the right ammunition – thanks to a scoop from the Toronto Sun. By 2045, Canada will have racked up $1.5 trillion in debt. Yes, trillion. With 12 zeros. That’s because Trudeau’s big spending and big government policies will create structural deficits and unsustainable debt long after he leaves office. We're racking up record debt, not just to fund infrastructure, but to cover day-to-day costs of government. Trudeau’s reckless spending has sparked a flame in those who wish to oppose Trudeau in the 2019 federal campaign. (Toronto Sun)

Chris Selley: Trudeau has been anointed the global standard-bearer for ‘progressivism.’ That’s just bizarre

The Liberals head into 2017 with a daunting list of promises to keep — legalizing marijuana, sanding down anti-terrorism legislation, growing the economy — and others, like electoral reform and running “modest” deficits, to weasel out of. Surely Justin Trudeau does not have enough spare time to be leader of the free world. Yet voices both at home and abroad seem intent on appointing him the global standard-bearer for “progressivism” in the fight against the (similarly ill-defined) forces that gave us Brexit, President Donald Trump and a resurgent European far right. (National Post)

Paul Wells: ‘Complex times’ present trouble and opportunity

Count back from known events. Late this month the Trudeau cabinet will hold a two-day retreat outside Ottawa. The last time the prime minister summoned his colleagues for one of these occasional getaways, in Sudbury at the end of August, he gave a few ministers new jobs and shook up the committees that organize their work. (Toronto Star)

Andrew Coyne: Longterm deficits aren’t so scary, but the risks they bring are

This is perhaps the clearest and most sobering lesson of Finance’s fun with mathematics: little things, over long periods, add up to big things. Change some key assumptions even by a small amount, and you get vastly different results. (National Post)

Don Martin: An extremely polarized fight to define the Conservative Party

The bonds have been straining for a year. Yesterday, the last traces of Conservative Party unity snapped. Ironically it fell to MP Lisa Raitt, the mostly-conciliatory former cabinet minister of many portfolios, to drive a wedge deep into the party. She unleashed uncharacteristic vitriol against probable rival Kevin O’Leary and ideological opposite Kellie Leitch.  It won’t be easy to dial back her views on their dangerous unworthiness to lead and their inability to win the next election if they succeed. (CTV)

Andrew MacDougall: Trudeau and his PMO should know how bad secret-vacation optics are

There he goes again. No, literally, there he goes again. Justin Trudeau was back in the Caribbean last week for another Christmas vacation. And, once again, his office spent the better part of that week being cagey about his location. The Bahamas, in case you’re interested. At least most Canadians have heard of the Bahamas, as opposed to last year’s séjour in Saint Kitts & Nevis. But fear not, dear taxpayer, the prime minister will soon be back in Ottawa working hard on behalf of the middle-class. (Ottawa Citizen)