True North Initiative: News Scan 01 17 17


At least 1 Canadian killed, 2 injured in Mexico nightclub shooting

Global Affairs Canada has confirmed that one Canadian was among at least five people killed in a shooting attack at a popular nightclub in Mexico’s Caribbean coast resort Playa del Carmen on Monday. Officials are still investigating reports of a second Canadian fatality. In an emailed statement, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Jocelyn Sweet said the department was unable to release further details about the victims and that consular officials in Playa del Carmen and Mexico City were in contact with local authorities and assisting Canadian citizens affected by the tragedy. She also confirmed that two Canadians were injured during the incident. (CTV) (Globe and Mail)

Parliament’s conflict-of-interest watchdog opens first-ever investigation into a PM’s activities

The federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has launched an investigation into the circumstances of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s New Year’s holiday in the Bahamas, the National Post has learned, the first time a sitting prime minister has come under scrutiny by the independent parliamentary watchdog. The commissioner, Mary Dawson, is considering two potential violations of the Conflict of Interest Act, according to a letter she sent to one of the two Conservative MPs who filed separate formal complaints, about Trudeau’s holiday at the Bahamas Island owned by the billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader the Aga Khan. (National Post) (Associated Press)

Trudeau says ethics concerns over Bahamas vacation will be 'ironed out'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to CBC Nova Scotia Mainstreet host Bob Murphy on Monday afternoon, shortly before heading to an event at the Dartmouth Sportsplex.  He spoke about his family vacation on a private island, soldiers, prescription medication and income inequality. Here is that conversation, edited for length and clarity. (CBC)

Federal government reaffirms commitment to bring Yazidi refugees to Canada

Canada will meet its commitment to bring an unspecified number of persecuted Yazidis to Canada by late February, according to the federal government's new immigration minister. In an interview with CBC News Network's Power & Politics, newly minted Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen said his government would soon provide a detailed update on its Yazidi efforts. The minister said he could not provide details now, because doing so could possibly endanger Canadian staff on the ground working with Yazidis. ​(CBC)

RCMP investigation into alleged leaks prompts Canadian Forces vice-chief’s removal

An RCMP investigation into the leak of top-secret defence information led to the removal on Monday of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman from his duties as the Canadian military’s second-highest-ranking officer, sources have told The Globe and Mail. A source said General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, ordered the temporary relief of Vice-Adm. Norman’s command after an investigation of allegations that “pretty high-level secret documents” were leaked. The source would not provide further information on the nature of the sensitive leaks. It is unknown whether the alleged leaks involved journalists, business interests or another country. (Globe and Mail)

Istanbul Reina nightclub attack suspect captured

Turkish police have arrested the main suspect in the New Year's Eve attack on an exclusive nightclub in Istanbul after a huge manhunt. Abdulkadir Masharipov is believed to have mounted the assault on the Reina club which left 39 people dead. The Uzbek national is said to have been caught in Istanbul's Esenyurt district. Citizens of Israel, France, Tunisia, Lebanon, India, Belgium, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were among the victims, and dozens of people were injured. (BBC)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Canadians’ protectionist feelings second only to US: Ipsos poll

Canadians aren’t so different from Americans when it comes to people’s feelings about protectionism. Nearly 40 per cent of Canadians think that Canada needs to ‘take more steps to protect itself from today’s world’, compared to the global average of 31 per cent, according to a new Ipsos global poll provided to Global News. A quarter of respondents preferred that Canada take steps to open itself up to the rest of the world, a further 25 per cent see merits in both viewpoints and 11 per cent were unsure. (Global News)

Canadian senators’ unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia draws criticism

Weeks after an international human-rights group revealed that Saudi Arabia had executed more than 150 people last year, a group of Canadian senators has quietly travelled to Riyadh for an official visit with Saudi counterparts. Speaker George Furey and senators Peter Harder, Percy Downe and Vern White went this week in a parliamentary exchange program that also includes a visit to Oman, the Speaker’s office said. British human-rights organization Reprieve reported in December that Saudi Arabia executed at least 153 people in 2016, nearing 2015’s record high of 158. (Globe and Mail)

Federal Court upholds deportation of Tamil Tigers fundraiser who has fought to stay in Canada for 22 years

An alleged fundraiser for Tamil rebels who has been fighting deportation from Canada for more than two decades has lost a key court battle after a federal judge dismissed his appeal. The Federal Court upheld the deportation of Manickavasagam Suresh on the grounds he was a member of a terrorist organization and that he was complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity. The evidence “adequately supported” the Immigration and Refugee Board’s finding that Suresh was a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, Justice Richard Mosley wrote in his ruling. (National Post)

Internal document raises possibility of 'Netflix tax'

The Liberal government is reviewing whether to enforce a so-called Netflix tax on the digital services Canadians buy from foreign-based firms over the internet. A high-profile example is U.S.-based Netflix, which does not apply federal or provincial sales taxes to monthly billings sent to Canadian customers for its streaming service. At the same time, Canadian firms selling digital services within the country are compelled to collect and remit federal and provincial sales taxes — such as BCE Inc.'s Bell, which has a service called CraveTV. (CBC)

Justin Trudeau booed in Edmonton

While Hayley Wickenheiser may have appreciated the sendoff Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave her during her retirement ceremony ahead of the Edmonton Oilers-Calgary Flames game Saturday night, not everyone in the audience was that ecstatic. (Toronto Sun)

Conservative leadership candidates set to face off in French-language debate

Conservative leadership contenders will put their French-language skills to the test tonight in a high stakes and potentially humbling debate in Quebec City. Thirteen candidates with proficiency ranging from beginner to bilingual will take the stage to square off over government, taxes, security and defence. Quebec Conservative MP Gérard Deltell, who has not yet endorsed any candidate, said the French-only debate is a clear indication the party believes the next leader must be bilingual. (CBC)

Facing Trump-Putin axis, Ukraine turns to a white knight — Chrystia Freeland

Seen from Ukraine, the news from North America at the beginning of the year was promising. Chrystia Freeland was sworn in as Canada's new minister of foreign affairs on Jan. 10. She is the proud descendant of Ukrainians and a fierce critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin's wars in Ukraine and his annexation of Crimea in 2014. She has written of his "revanchist policy" and called his characterization of Ukrainians as dupes of NATO, even neo-Nazis, "his most dramatic resort to the Soviet tactic of the Big Lie." (CBC)

Take Time Selling Canada to Trump, Departing Envoy Tells Trudeau

President Barack Obama’s outgoing envoy to Canada has some guidance for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in dealing with the new Trump administration: Don’t assume anything. “If I was going to give one piece of advice,” U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman said in an interview with Bloomberg, it would be that “whenever you are working on a relationship that’s new, don’t presume that the other party really understands all the history and background as to where you are.” “Take a bit of time to explain the relationship,” he said. (Bloomberg)

Trudeau Hires BCG Adviser to Bring Foreign Investment to Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is bringing in a Boston Consulting Group adviser to help it attract more foreign investment. Kilian Berz, a senior partner and managing director at BCG’s Toronto office, will join the Privy Council Office, a branch of the public service that reports to Trudeau. Reached by phone Monday, Berz confirmed he’ll keep his position at BCG and won’t be paid for his government work. (Bloomberg)



Tasha Kheiriddin: So what the hell was Trudeau thinking?

Are you a prime minister looking to get away this winter? All those Google hangouts and holiday announcements making you feel overworked? Consider escaping to Bell Island in the Bahamas! Privacy, luxury and room for your friends and guests! Helicopter transport included! Cost: one investigation by the ethics commissioner, $500 in fines under the Conflict of Interest Act, several pounds of political capital, one missed retreat at Davos and unlimited cups of coffee on your BONUS cross-Canada tour! Open wide the wallets, taxpayers of Canada. What started as an airfare-only trip for PM Justin Trudeau and friends to the Bahamian retreat of the Aga Khan has morphed into a costly cause célèbre — and we’ll all be footing the bill. (IPolitics)

Kady O’Malley: Okay, Trudeau, why does 'sorry' suddenly seem to be the hardest word?

Justin Trudeau should have known.  Even before news broke – courtesy of the National Post’s indefatigable David Akin – that the federal ethics watchdog would be launching a formal investigation into the prime minister’s now infamous jaunt to the Aga Khan’s exclusive Bahamian hideaway, it should have been obvious to even the most Pollyanna-ish member of his inner circle – which may or may not be Trudeau himself – that there was only one way to bring this latest conflict-of-interest controversy to a close: an unabashed admission of wrongdoing, a wholehearted apology and some sort of act of public penance that would make it clear that a lesson had been learned. (Ottawa Citizen)

John Williamson: Making Canadian energy more expensive is a no-win plan against Trump’s America

When Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet last week, it signalled he’s taking the next United States president seriously. Finding the right mix of people to work with White House officials is important. But government policies also matter. Mr. Trudeau will need to do more to keep Canada competitive and protect Canadian jobs. Donald Trump is ready to upend U.S. policy on everything from trade, to defence treaties, to immigration. But the president-elect’s domestic proposals on taxes and energy are our greater challenge. (Financial Post)

Andy Semotiuk: Trump's Inauguration Has Canada Guessing What's In Store

The inauguration of  Donald Trump as President of the United States in a few days is not only impacting the American political landscape, but has also sparked a cabinet shuffle in Canada. From an immigration point of view, Trump's policy related to "America first" as it is applied to  jobs is a key area of concern, especially regarding professional jobs created through the NAFTA free trade agreement. (Forbes)

Andrew Coyne: Why Kevin O’Leary wouldn’t win the Tory leadership

The conventional wisdom on Kevin O’Leary’s candidacy for Conservative leader, should it materialize, is that he can’t win. Sure, he’s glib and outrageous, a wealthy TV pitchman in an age when people are looking for an “outsider.” But this is not America, and he is not Donald Trump. And the contrarian take on all of this is: er, the conventional wisdom is right. I know, I know. Nobody thought Trump could win, either. We’ve become educated of late to expect black swans that confound all expert predictions. But not every swan is black. A number of factors combined to produce Trump’s surprise victory in the Republican primary; of these, virtually none are present in the Conservative race. (National Post)

Chantal Hebert: French will take the hits at Tuesday’s Conservative leadership debate

First, some somewhat encouraging news for the 11 non-Quebec candidates who are gathering in the province’s capital for the only French-language debate of the federal Conservative leadership campaign. The Quebec Conservatives who hold the second-largest number of leadership votes are not — in principle at least — wedded to the concept of having a native son as party leader. For the main part, they are voters who stuck with Stephen Harper over successive elections despite the overtures of Quebec-based leaders as diverse as Paul Martin, Jack Layton, Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and, of course, Gilles Duceppe. If place-of-political-origin had been a primary consideration, surely one of Harper’s rivals would have fit the bill. (Toronto Star)

Mark Bonokoski: Hypocritical silence after Trudeau’s game of hide-and-seek

There is no question that $500 is pocket change to our silver-spooned prime minister, and probably less than the cost of one well-tailored sleeve on one of his many bespoke suits. It is, however, the maximum fine Justin Trudeau will incur if Canada’s Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson finds him guilty of breaking rules with his secretive fun-in-the-sun jaunt to the Aga Khan’s private Bahamian island over the New Year. But surely it strips Trudeau of any claim to personal integrity. Surely it leaves him naked. (Toronto Sun)

Ezra Levant: Trudeau loves Iran — So will feminist PM condemn crackdown on female bikers?

Justin Trudeau is a feminist. You know that, because he doesn’t shut up about it.  So what’s a current feminist issue? Well, I’ll show you footage of some women in Iran daring to ride motorbikes — then the sharia police arresting them. (Just like they arrest women who post Instagram pictures of themselves without veils.) But Trudeau loves Iran. (Rebel)

Jay Fayza: Learn the two real reasons the West takes in millions of migrants

Across the Western world, countries are told to open up their borders and let in millions upon millions of migrants. For example, in Germany off all places, will accept up to 300,000 migrants this year alone. These migrants are not necessarily refugees, however. According to most fair estimates, four out of five migrants recently entering into Europe were not Syrian. The West isn’t obligated by international law to accept any of them, yet it does. Why? (Rebel)