True North Initiative: News Scan 01 16 17


Vegreville mayor pleading for meeting with Justin Trudeau in effort to keep immigration office

The mayor of Vegreville is hoping Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make time on his cross-Canada tour to meet with him in a last-ditch effort to save 280 jobs from leaving town. In October, townsfolk found out that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada had decided to relocate the federal government’s Case Processing Centre to Edmonton from Vegreville, taking 280 jobs with it. (Edmonton Journal)

Canadian man, wife on trial for sending ISIS son cash

A Canadian farmer and his British wife are going on trial next week accused of funnelling cash to their ISIS worshipping son. John Letts -- originally from southern Ontario -- and Sally Lane are accused of funding terrorism by sending thousands of dollars to Syria. They have pleaded not guilty. The couple’s son, Jack ‘Jihadi Jack’ Letts, 20, is believed to be the first white Brit to join the death cult’s ranks. (Toronto Sun)

Foreigners likely tried to influence Canada’s election: ex-CSIS head

The former head of CSIS says he would be “very surprised” if foreign countries hadn’t attempted to influence the outcome of Canada’s federal election, as he believes Russia tried to do to the U.S. Richard Fadden, who directed CSIS from 2009 to 2013 and served as National Security Advisor to Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau until last March, told CTV’s Question Period host Evan Solomon that although “he doesn’t know” it happened, he “would be very surprised if some attempt hadn’t been made, either through a cyberattack or through some other means.” (CTV)

Russian state-owned media slams Chrystia Freeland

The Russian state-owned Sputnik News has come out with a piece blasting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new foreign affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland, and framing her appointment as a “catastrophe for Canadian-Russian relations.” Posted early Saturday afternoon, the copy quotes University of Montreal history professor Michael J. Carley who slams the new minister as a “hater of Putin” and “Russophobe.” “This appointment is a catastrophe for Canadian-Russian relations, I cannot understand why the government would have selected her to be minister for external affairs with her stated position with respect to Russia, Crimea, and Ukraine. She’s a Russophobe, a hater of Putin, of Russian politics,” Carley is quoted as saying. (IPolitics)

Trudeau gets an earful from veteran, chiefs, disabled participant in London, Ont.

Justin Trudeau's campaign-style town hall forum attracted the largest crowd yet in London, Ont., Friday night, with military issues, accessibility troubles and First Nations leaders dampening the mood. The prime minister took about a dozen questions from an energized audience of 1,500, while outside, nearly as many people were turned away due to lack of space. (CBC)

Grandmother living in 'energy poverty' makes tearful plea to PM Trudeau

If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hoped his whirlwind cross-country outreach tour would yield authentic exchanges with everyday Canadians, he got a heavy dose of the grassroots reality he was looking for in Peterborough, Ont., on Friday. A grandmother tearfully confronted Trudeau about Ottawa’s planned carbon tax, saying her already steep energy bills have left her struggling to put food on the table for her family, even though she works 15 hours per day. (CTV)

Trudeau willing to make tough decisions to achieve his agenda, but former Grit party leader Dion treated ‘disrespectfully’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau injected new energy into his government when he shuffled his cabinet last week in an effort to deal with upcoming U.S. president Donald Trump’s administration, but some insiders say the prime minister treated former federal party leader Stéphane Dion “disrespectfully” by giving him the boot from cabinet and offering him a diplomatic appointment. “He has not been treated respectfully,” a friend of Mr. Dion’s said in an interview with The Hill Times last week and who requested anonymity. At the time of the interview, the 21-year veteran of the Liberal caucus, who was first elected in 1996, who was still considering his future plans. (Hill Times)

Canada will face border tariffs if U.S. workers undermined: Trump spokesman

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team says Canada will face tariffs if cross-border trade is seen to disadvantage U.S. workers. The statement marks the first specific mention of Canada as Trump continues to take aim at the longstanding North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he has called “the worst deal in history,” and deemed responsible for the erosion of the U.S. manufacturing sector. (CTV)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

New generation moves to the fore in Liberal cabinet shuffle

The numbers tell an interesting tale. In a single day last week, the average age of the members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet dropped from 52 to 50 – making it one of the younger cabinets in Canadian history. Three ministers, all in their 60s, were shuffled out of cabinet, replaced by much younger colleagues. While those close to Trudeau say it was all about geography and preparing for incoming U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, for many Liberals, it was also a sign of generational change. (CBC)

Immigrant retention on P.E.I. worst in the region

P.E.I. has the worst immigrant retention record in Atlantic Canada, according to a report from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council released this week. And the record for immigrant retention in the region as a whole is not good. (CBC)

Immigration increasing in the Atlantic provinces

Immigrants to Atlantic Canada have tripled since 2002. In 2015 there was a record influx of 8,300 people. Last year the total increased to 11,600 but some of that was due to the arrival of the Syrian refugees. This week the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) released a report on these positive trends, with projections of as many as 19,000 people choosing to move to the region in the future. “As long as you’re in one of these priority occupations, based upon our labour market analysis, then we think you have a good chance of succeeding here in the region.” (Radio Canada)

Leamington, Ont. migrant worker receives last-minute deportation reprieve

A Leamington, Ont. migrant worker had her bags packed in anticipation of her impending deportation this Sunday when she learned it had been cancelled at the last minute. Gina Bahiwal came to Canada from the Philippines in 2008 under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and worked packing vegetables, as a housekeeper and in the fast food industry. (CBC)

'Secret order' authorizing RCMP's covert Cold War wiretapping program released after 65 years

The "secret order" that authorized Canada's first warrantless domestic wiretapping program at the dawn of the Cold War threatened five years in prison to anyone who revealed the dragnet's existence, the newly released document shows. The government only confirmed the 65-year-old document's existence in December after CBC News published a story about Canadian historian Dennis Molinaro's research. He'd found top secret documents about the program, code-named Picnic, but hit a bureaucratic wall while trying to obtain the key document. (CBC)

Canada-U.K. trade deal could be in the works in post-Brexit future

Canada and Britain are quietly laying the groundwork for a new relationship in a post-Brexit era, which could include a trade deal that goes beyond the Canada-European Union agreement. Canadian High Commissioner Janice Charette said officials from both countries have been meeting for months to discuss trade relations after Brexit. Canadian trade experts have even offered their British counterparts advice on how to negotiate a deal with the EU and others. But getting a Canada-U.K. trade deal won’t be easy and will take time, since Britain will have to sort out its relationship with the EU first. (Globe and Mail)

Trudeau’s greatest challenge in 2017? Engaging with US while protecting Canada, Baird says

Developing a constructive relationship with the incoming U.S. administration will be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “single greatest challenge” this year, said former Conservative foreign affairs minister John Baird. “[President-elect Donald] Trump obviously doesn’t have experience working in government, so he will be very unpredictable. He will take a different style, and that will be a real challenge to try to relate to,” Baird said in an interview on The West Block. (Global News)

NAFTA Rewrite Could Shift Tech Talent to Canada, Mexico

Galarza entered the Silicon Valley tech scene while on a TN visa, created under the North American Free Trade Agreement for high-skilled Mexican and Canadian professionals to work in the U.S. Now Galarza is worried that the career path he took could be in jeopardy with President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to re-write the trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. It’s difficult enough, Galarza said, for tech entrepreneurs to find enough U.S. talent without looking to foreign high-skilled engineers who might only be able to work in the U.S. on a TN visa. (Bloomberg)

Non-US MBA schools target students turned off by Donald Trump

Business schools in the UK and Canada have begun targeting potential students who may find the US less attractive following Donald Trump’s election victory. In an early indication of how November’s election result might play out for US business schools, the leaders of institutions outside the country have spoken of the “opportunities” that Mr Trump’s win provides to attract new students. (Financial Times)

Trump praises Brexit and predicts EU's demise, slams NATO

Wading into foreign affairs days before his inauguration, President-elect Donald Trump said Britain's decision to leave the European Union would "end up being a great thing" and predicted the bloc would continue to break apart. The incoming president, in an interview published Sunday, said European countries are reacting to an influx of immigrants that threaten each nation's identity. “People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity," Trump said in an interview with London's The Sunday Times and Bild, a German newspaper. (CTV)

Donald Trump says Merkel made 'catastrophic mistake' on migrants

US President-elect Donald Trump has said German Chancellor Angela Merkel made "one very catastrophic mistake" by admitting more than 1m migrants. He said Mrs Merkel was by far Europe's most important leader, and that the EU had become a vehicle for Germany. Mr Trump was giving details of his foreign policy goals in an interview with British and German newspapers. (BBC)

China warns Trump that Taiwan policy is 'non-negotiable'

China has warned Donald Trump that he has no chance of striking a deal with Beijing involving Taiwan’s political status following the US president-elect’s latest controversial intervention on the subject. The Chinese foreign ministry told Trump that the US’s longstanding “One China” policy, by which it does not challenge Beijing’s claim over the self-ruled island, was the political basis for all Sino-US relations. (The Guardian)

Spain: Police seize jihadi weapons ‘capable of downing AIRCRAFT’

Anti-terror investigators confiscated 12,000 weapons this week - just before they were sold to terrorists by a Spanish gang, who have now been arrested.  Police said the weapon trafficking network was terrifying in its size and capability - which now includes anti-aircraft weaponry.  The country’s Interior Minister said “several anti-aircraft guns capable of bringing down aircraft” were seized on Thursday, along with thousands of rifles. (



Candice Malcolm: Monsef is no feminist hero

After spending a relaxing few days on a private island in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was back to work this week. And he managed to do something rather productive. Trudeau shuffled his cabinet – demoting ineffective and problematic ministers, while promoting the more capable and impressive ones. Perhaps most interestingly, Trudeau moved Maryam Monsef from her role as Democratic Institutions Minister to the lower-profile position of Minister for the Status of Women. It was a clear demotion. (Toronto Sun)

Jaime Weinman: Does Canada already have a Trumpian immigration policy?

Canadians like to be noticed, and as immigration has become a key issue in the world, people are increasingly noticing Canada as an example of a country that does it right. Even before Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency on a platform of immigration restriction, American commentators were urging their compatriots to be more like Canada: even though 20 per cent of the population is foreign-born, a much higher percentage than most Western countries, most Canadians view immigration as beneficial to the country. So-called “Canadian exceptionalism” over immigration and multiculturalism is starting to spread around the world, as more observers agree that we really do accomplish these things better than anyone else. (Macleans)

David Akin: Trudeau seeks out sharp comments, unhappy voters as he aims for political boost on ‘listening tour’

The Liberals are betting that Canadians will appreciate the authenticity, charm and sheer gumption of a prime minister at an unscripted town hall over the propaganda of what passed for a Harper town hall. Such a demonstration of the “Trudeau brand” may be particularly important now because Trudeau’s opponents are about to ramp up accusations that he is a scofflaw who likes rubbing shoulders with foreign millionaires at fundraising events and would rather hang out with a billionaire buddy in the Bahamas than join everyday Canadians at a New Year’s Party ushering in the country’s 150th anniversary. (National Post)

Michael Den Tandt: Here are five ways Canada could benefit from a Trump presidency

The imminent accession of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States and de facto leadership of the free world, judging from online chatter, has several Democrat-leaning Canadians in an ornery (read terrified) mood. The President-elect’s daily tweetblasts, it is fair to say, have contributed to this unease. But there are, just maybe, ways in which Canadians may benefit from Trump’s presidency. Since this is happening regardless, and we Canucks didn’t get a vote in any case, it behooves us to pragmatically keep an eye out for potential opportunities, from the standpoint of this country’s national interest. Below are five possibilities. (National Post)

John Ibbitson: Note to Conservatives: There is no future in Donald Trump Lite

To varying degrees, several candidates for the Conservative leadership seek to unravel the conservative coalition forged by Stephen Harper, hoping to replace it with a populist, nativist movement similar to the one that elected Donald Trump. Either they will fail and a Harper Conservative will win the leadership, or one will succeed, condemning the Conservative Party to many years in the wilderness. Because the Trump coalition simply doesn’t exist in this country. (Globe and Mail)

Steven Zhou: Canadian campuses see an alarming rise in right-wing populism

Those who think that Canada is the last bastion of liberal tolerance in the West should expand their political imagination beyond the halls of power — and in particular, take a look at what's happening on Canadian campuses,  where there's been a recent surge in right-wing and racist propaganda. It may be true that the right wing in Canada has yet to cough up the same kind of populist threat now arising in European liberal democracies like France, Germany or the Netherlands. But the success of president-elect Donald Trump has emboldened nativist elements of Canadian society just the same. (CBC)

Chris Hall: 'Not a target ... not an ally': What Trump presidency could mean for Canadian economy

There wasn't much surprise when the United Steelworkers officially endorsed Hillary Clinton in last year's U.S. presidential race. The Democrats had always been the party of organized labour, the party that authored protectionist policies that supported jobs and companies in the American heartland. But the Canadian who leads the United Steelworkers, one of the largest and most powerful unions south of the border, says his membership had other ideas. (CBC)

Thomas Walkom: Donald Trump shows free trade can be challenged

Give Donald Trump credit for this. The U.S. president-elect might not be everybody’s favourite person. But he is showing that governments can successfully challenge the logic of globalization. In particular, he has demonstrated some of the world’s biggest companies can be strong-armed into repatriating high-wage manufacturing jobs. Since November, when Trump won the U.S. presidential election by promising to tear up or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, companies ranging from Ford to United Technologies have backed away from plans to move production abroad. (Toronto Star)