True North Initiative: News Scan 01 11 17


Canada PM Justin Trudeau shuffles key Cabinet ministers

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promoted top Cabinet performers and brought in new faces as Ottawa prepares for the Trump presidency. Nearly a third of the Cabinet is on the move in the reshuffle, with some rookies taking top roles. (BBC) (Huffington Post

Liberal MP, party president joined Trudeau for his controversial Bahamas vacation with the Aga Khan

Seamus O’Regan, the first-time MP for St. John’s South—Mount Pearl and former CTV broadcaster, and his husband Stelios (Steve) Doussis as well as party president Anna Gainey and her husband Tom Pitfield spent a week with the Trudeau family on Bell Island as a guest of the Aga Khan, who is the spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims. (National Post)

Freeland tasked by Trudeau to negotiate with Trump administration

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made Chrystia Freeland the new foreign affairs minister, giving her total control of U.S. relations and the challenge of stickhandling the America-first trade policy of incoming president Donald Trump. Mr. Trudeau shuffled his cabinet Tuesday in a move that saw him demote underperformers and promote a trio of rookie MPs while ushering out some of the Liberal old guard, including former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion. (Globe and Mail) (Reuters) (CBC)

Stéphane Dion abruptly quits as Trudeau bolsters cabinet to face Trump era

In Quebec he will be remembered as the soft-spoken academic who went toe-to-toe intellectually with the separatist movement. But while at ease in the world of constitutional law and, later, climate change and the environment, Stéphane Dion was less successful in the modern often superficial world of politics where image and media savvy matter as much or more than brain power, tact and introspection. (Montreal Gazette)

John McCallum 'excited' to be next ambassador to China

John McCallum says making the move from immigration minister to ambassador to China isn't as big a leap as people might think. He pointed to his wife, who is Chinese, and to constituents in his Markham-Thornhill riding, many of whom are also of Chinese descent. "So in my personal life, in my work life, and with visits to China, I have lived and breathed things Chinese for a long, long time," he told reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons after Tuesday's cabinet shuffle. (CBC) (Globe and Mail)

From refugee to immigration minister: Ahmed Hussen appointed cabinet role

A former Somali refugee is now overseeing Canada’s federal immigration policies after a cabinet shuffle Tuesday. Ahmed Hussen, who arrived in Canada as a refugee from Somalia at the age of 16, was sworn in as Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship at a Rideau Hall ceremony. He replaces John McCallum, who is leaving politics and heading to Beijing as Canada’s new envoy to China. (Globe and Mail) (Yahoo)

Some Syrian Refugees Lose Government Aid After A Year. What's Next?

Al Qiblawi needs to find a job that pays at least $20 per hour to meet his family’s basic needs. With only a beginner’s grasp of English, his options are limited. He’s dedicated to his studies because he knows language can make a difference between a job that pays low wages or one that pays well. (Huffington Post)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Experts divided on fallout of Freeland becoming foreign minister

The door may be open in Washington to Canada's new foreign affairs minister, but it's closed — even barred shut — in Moscow. And depending on whom you ask, it may stay that way. Chrystia Freeland, who took over as Canada's top diplomat on Tuesday, is one of the prominent names on Russia's sanctions list. (CBC)

Trudeau’s New Man in China Bad News for Canadian Workers, Says Expert

Trudeau shook up his cabinet Tuesday, shuffling Ontario MP John McCallum out of his role as immigration minister and into the ambassador’s job in Beijing. Charles Burton, a China expert from Brock University, said the appointment signals the Liberal government is ready to let China conduct business with Canada on its own terms. (Tyee)

Last-minute wave of Syrian refugees lets Liberals keep their promise

A trickle of incoming Syrian refugees turned to a stream late last year, helping the federal government to check off one of the key targets from its 2015 election campaign. Nearly 2,000 government-supported Syrian refugees arrived in Canada in mid-December, bringing the total to more than 25,000 since the Liberal government took power in 2015 and began to admit thousands of people displaced and endangered by the turmoil in and around the Middle Eastern country. (Hill Times)

Fort McMurray woman charged with immigration fraud

Charie Santos faces one charge of representing individuals applying for status in Canada without authorization under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Canadian Border Services Agency said in a news release Tuesday. It is alleged that Santos helped people with their permanent residence applications and helped individuals and businesses file Labour Market Impact Assessments. (Yahoo)

Obhrai unveils immigration policy

Conservative leadership candidate Deepak Obhrai, who has been very critical of Kellie Leitch’s so-called “Canadian values” immigrant screening proposal, launched his own immigration policy Tuesday. “Immigration is a necessity to build a prosperous Canada, as has always been the case,” said Obhrai in a release. “It is still possible to be pro-immigration and to be conservative.” He says Canada shouldn’t change what has worked for the past 10 years, but we could afford to be more careful about how we spend money on newcomers once they arrive. (IPolitics)

Small Man. town facing wave of refugee claimants crossing border illegally

A rural community in southern Manitoba is reporting a spike in illegal immigrants seeking asylum from deportation in the United States. More than 400 refugee claimants have been caught crossing the border illegally near Emerson, Man., in the last nine months, according to numbers from the Canada Border Services Agency. That's 70 more crossings than in the entire previous year, and hundreds more than in 2013-2014, when only 68 crossings were recorded. (CTV)

Once branded spies, Chinese tech trio settles in Canada after immigration officials back down

A single rogue officer in Canada’s Hong Kong consulate is believed responsible for unsubstantiated and explosive espionage accusations against ex-employees of telecoms giant Huawei, that have now been retracted (South China Morning Post)

Obama offers optimism -- and warnings -- in farewell address

Popular but politically humbled, President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation Tuesday night, declaring during his farewell address that he hasn't abandoned his vision of progressive change but warning that it now comes with a new set of caveats. (CNN)

World Bank says Trump’s tax plan could stoke global growth

The World Bank believes Donald Trump’s plan to cut corporate and personal income taxes in the United States could provide a significant boost to the global economy this year. But the bank is also raising alarm bells about a rise in anti-trade sentiment by the U.S. president-elect and other world leaders. (Globe and Mail)

Germany Sets Plan to Rein In Extremists

Germany released a plan to rein in known extremists after authorities failed to prevent a terrorist attack last month by a Tunisian radical on a government watch list. The proposed overhauls aim to make it easier for police to monitor, detain and deport asylum seekers believed to pose a terror threat, Germany’s interior and justice ministers said on Tuesday. (Wall Street Journal)



Tarek Fatah: The latest death threat against me

“Your throat will be slit." Glaring at me across the TV monitor, the red-bearded Mullah smirked as he delivered a death threat on India’s most-watched national news network, Zee News. The remark stunned the host and the panel who were discussing a ‘fatwa’ against Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the very same Islamic cleric when out of nowhere Maulana Barkati made me the target of his anger. (Toronto Sun)

Tim Powers: Raitt risks blood in her quest to sink the big fish

Last week, Raitt, who to date has had generally a quite uneventful Conservative leadership campaign, decided to go after Kevin O’Leary and to a lesser degree Kellie Leitch. Raitt had a news conference at the national press theatre in Ottawa during what is normally a sleepy post-Christmas/early new year time to announce the launch of the website (Hill Times)

Michael Den Tandt: Freeland is the closest thing Trudeau has to an expert on Kremlinology and Trumpism

Freeland is a Harvard grad and Rhodes Scholar who speaks Russian, Ukrainian, French and Italian and has lived and worked in Moscow, New York and London. That and her performance as trade minister — specifically her successful landing of the European free trade deal last fall, after having abandoned talks at the eleventh hour — made her an obvious candidate for promotion to foreign affairs in a shuffle that has the feel of an all-hands-on-deck, ahead of the Trump presidency. (National Post)

Paul Wells: Stéphane Dion presented special challenges

Stéphane Dion has always been every Liberal leader’s special gift. When Justin Trudeau announced a renewed Liberal cabinet that had no place for Dion, it was clear Dion’s refusal to accept the sinecure Trudeau had offered — simultaneous appointments, it is reported, as ambassador to Germany and to the European Union — was putting a serious cramp in Trudeau’s style on a big day. (Toronto Star)

Kady O’Malley: If the fix was in on electoral reform, Monsef would still have her job

Tuesday’s federal cabinet shuffle marked the end of an era, and quite possibly, a once-promising political career as Maryam Monsef was relieved of her duties as the prime minister’s point-woman on electoral reform. Tapped to take her place as the minister for democratic institutions is another first-time female MP from Southern Ontario: Karina Gould, who, up until today, had been serving as parliamentary secretary for international development. (Monsef will remain in cabinet, albeit in the far less high-profile status of women portfolio.) (Ottawa Citizen)

Paul Wells: Trudeau wields carrots and sticks

That’s one way to keep MPs on their toes. Justin Trudeau kicked three ministers out of his cabinet on Tuesday even though none had provoked the sort of scandal that normally merits such a sanction. And he promoted three rookies to serious jobs. That’s both more carrot and more stick than most prime ministers have felt a need to wave this early in their terms. (Toronto Star)

Andrew Potter: For all his failings as foreign affairs minister and Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion was a hero when Canada needed one

A cabinet shuffle is an occasion to take stock of the prime minister and his government, judge its successes and failures and evaluate its priorities. On occasion, it can also serve as a chance to write a public servant’s political obituary. And so it is with Stéphane Dion, the foreign affairs minister who is leaving politics. He has reportedly been offered a job as Canada’s ambassador to Germany and to the European Union, but has not yet decided whether he will accept. With Dion gone from government, Canada loses one its most vital cabinet ministers of the past quarter century. (National Post)

Lawrence Martin: Trudeau cabinet shuffle: Why an overhaul was needed

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet remake adds more youth, drops more aging white men and brings to the Liberal forefront a new little guy from Shawinigan. The shuffle provides under-performing ministries with some much needed reupholstering. Or so it is hoped. And it readies the Trudeau team – or so it is hoped – for potentially disruptive changes in the continental and world order brought on by the U.S. election of Donald Trump. (Globe and Mail)