True North Initiative: News Scan 01 19 17


B.C. jury to begin deliberations for men accused of smuggling nearly 500 Tamil migrants

A jury in Vancouver is expected to begin deliberations on Thursday in the case of four men accused of smuggling hundreds of Tamil migrants into Canada. Justice William Ehrcke of the Supreme Court of British Columbia has finished summarizing the evidence presented during the three-month trial. Two Canadians and two Sri Lankans have pleaded not guilty to organizing the voyage of the MV Sun Sea, which involved crossing the Pacific Ocean on a dilapidated cargo vessel without a formal crew. On Wednesday, Ehrcke instructed the jury to be "very cautious" about relying on eyewitness evidence to find guilt in the case. (CBC)

Justin Trudeau speaks only French at Sherbrooke town hall, despite English questions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answered questions ranging from local concerns about public transit to tabling new federal pot legislation at Tuesday night's town hall in Sherbrooke, Que., and he answered them all in French — because, he said, "we're in Quebec." A woman asked in English what would be done to help Anglo-Quebecers seeking mental health services when those services are only available in French. "Thank you for your use of both official languages," Trudeau replied in French.  "But we're in a French province so I will answer in French," he answered, as the woman grew visibly annoyed. (CBC)

Liberal staffer fired after security breach at NDP offices in Ottawa

A member of Health Minister Jane Philpott’s staff has lost his job after he gained unauthorized access to NDP offices near Parliament Hill. Mark Livingstone inappropriately entered the New Democrats’ research office on Sparks Street around 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2016, the day before the Liberal government’s one-year anniversary in power. On Nov. 8, the Liberal House Leader’s chief of staff, Rheal Lewis, notified NDP Whip Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet a Liberal staffer had entered the office days earlier. (Globe and Mail)

Canada Revenue Agency monitoring Facebook, Twitter posts of some Canadians

The Canada Revenue Agency is scrutinizing the Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other social media posts of Canadians it suspects could be cheating on their taxes. That's just one example of the agency's increasing focus on what it can learn by collecting and analyzing many kinds of data — both its own internally generated information and what it calls "publicly available information." (CBC)

NAFTA talks will be wide open, says Trump's commerce nominee Wilbur Ross

Every aspect of the North American free-trade agreement will be on the negotiating table, and any final agreement should contain an automatic measure to reopen the deal later to address further issues, Donald Trump’s nominee for commerce secretary said on Wednesday. Billionaire turnaround specialist Wilbur Ross told a Senate confirmation hearing that reopening the 1994 trade deal with Canada and Mexico to make it more favourable to U.S. manufacturers will be one the Trump administration’s first acts. (Globe and Mail)

A look at businessman Kevin O'Leary, now running for Tory leadership

Some facts about businessman Kevin O'Leary, who announced Wednesday that he is running for the Conservative leadership (Canadian Press)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

What does the Trump era mean for Canada? A guide to what’s coming

As Republican president-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office on Friday, check back here for the latest news, analysis and opinion on what his presidency could mean for Canada, from protectionism and the economy to pluralism and immigration. (And Americans: If you’ve considered moving to Canada, we have some pointers on why that might not be so easy or such a good idea.) (Globe and Mail)

The 4 kinds of people who want to move to Canada post-Trump election

With just days before president-elect Donald Trump takes office, a Toronto immigration lawyer says he's seen a "huge spike" in the number of people calling about immigrating to Canada. "We're probably doing two or three consultations a day," said Evan Green of Green and Spiegel on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. Of those people, Green said there's a big variety in who they are and why they are interested in moving north. He broke it down into four categories. (CBC)

Number of people getting EI benefits in Alberta hits near-record levels

The number of people receiving EI benefits rose to 97,000 in November, which is almost a 60 per cent increase from 2015. In December 2014, that number was below 30,000. The amount of people receiving benefits in November was up 3.4 per cent from the previous month. Most other provinces saw those rates staying steady or showing modest declines. The numbers, released Wednesday morning by Statistics Canada, represent some dreary milestones for the province. University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe tweeted that the number of people receiving benefits is the highest in at least 20 years. (Edmonton Journal)

Two Liberals facing Election Act bribery charges could go to trial this summer

Two Ontario Liberals facing Election Act bribery charges could go to trial this summer in Sudbury. Lawyers for Pat Sorbara, the premier's former deputy chief of staff, and Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed briefly appeared in court today and set the next date for Feb. 8. On that day they're expected to set a date for trial, with the parties eyeing dates in the summer. The charges stem from allegations the pair offered a would-be candidate a job or appointment to get him to step aside in a 2015 byelection in Sudbury for Glenn Thibeault, who was then a New Democrat MP — and is now the energy minister. Sorbara and Lougheed both deny the charges. (Canadian Press)

Britain is heading for a 'Canada-plus' Brexit deal

The most likely Brexit deal struck by the UK is the so-called "Canada-plus" option, according to Morgan Stanley's UK economics team. Morgan Stanley's Jacob Nell and Melanie Baker base their conclusion on the contents of Prime Minister Theresa May's momentous speech her Brexit plans on Tuesday. (UK Business Insider)

Kevin O'Leary Waves Passport To Show He Can Take On Trump

He’s wading into an old political arena as something new, and using some borrowed media tactics to promise he can boost something blue. Celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary formally announced his candidacy for Conservative leader on Wednesday, ending nearly a year of speculation over his possible — now confirmed — bid. To prove how serious he is about becoming Tory leader and taking on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2019, the “Shark Tank” star pulled out his passport on live TV to make the case that Canadians don’t have to live with Liberal government's “stupidity.” (Huffington Post)

Trump pledges 'firm' immigration plan with 'a lot of heart'

President-elect Donald Trump this week promised a revamped immigration plan that is both “very firm” but also will “have a lot of heart” for undocumented immigrants in difficult situations. During his Tuesday interview with Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt, which was broadcast Wednesday morning on “Fox & Friends,” Trump was asked what he plans to do with the so-called “dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children. Asked about their predicament, Trump said “I understand that,” and said an immigration plan is in the works, set to be delivered “over the next two to three months.” (Politico)

REVEALED: The world's SAFEST countries in 2017

These rankings are taken from the Global Peace Index (GPI), which is compiled annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace and is based on a number of factors, including the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation. It also lists the least peaceful – or most dangerous – countries. (

Pence: NATO Needs to Tackle Radical Islamic Terrorism

The United States' alliance with NATO will continue under President Donald Trump but it should refocus its mission, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said in a new interview. According to The Hill, Pence spoke with NBC's Chuck Todd during an interview for "MTP Daily" that aired Wednesday. "It's an alliance that should expand to include other security threats. But that historic mission of NATO will go forward. I'm confident," Pence said. (NewsMax)

Obama defends granting clemency to Chelsea Manning

U.S. President Barack Obama firmly defended his decision to cut nearly three decades off Chelsea Manning's prison term, saying at his final White House news conference that the former army intelligence analyst had served a "tough prison sentence" already for leaking documents. Obama said he granted clemency to Manning because she had gone to trial, taken responsibility for her crime and received a sentence that was harsher than other leakers had received. He emphasized that he had merely commuted her sentence, not granted a pardon, which would have symbolically forgiven her for the crime. (CBC)



Candice Malcolm: Liberals’ giddy Obama-fawning

Despite being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, Obama failed to deliver anything resembling global peace or security. Obama’s tenure as president has finally come to an end. Despite the gleeful support from Liberal MPs in Ottawa, Obama will not get four more years. Thankfully, his time is done and it couldn’t come a minute too soon (Toronto Sun)

Candice Malcolm: Media “eats up” Trudeau’s immigrant story on “apology” tour

Justin Trudeau is travelling across Canada on a campaign style tour organized by local Liberal Party riding associations, and being sold to the media as a way for Trudeau to reconnect with the Middle Class. It’s more like an apology tour, where Trudeau is saying sorry for sky-rocketing costs of hydro, trying in vain to sell his ill-advised and poorly timed carbon tax, and, most notably, apologizing for all the various conflict-of-interest issues his government is facing. (Rebel)

Robyn Urback: Kevin O'Leary is way too boring to be called Canada's Donald Trump

To call Kevin O'Leary "Canada's Donald Trump" is to grossly overstate how interesting O'Leary is as a candidate, or a person. Apologies to the believers, but O'Leary is an actor. He's playing the role of the no-nonsense, tough-as-nails businessman, a persona that has gotten him stellar gigs on reality TV shows and financial panels. But just as elite pediatric surgeon, accomplished scholar and seasoned politician Kellie Leitch is pretending to be a populist, O'Leary has simply adopted an easily understood, marketable character (arguably, it's working far better for him than Leitch's heavily researched persona is working for her). (CBC)

Arlene Dickinson: On Kevin O'Leary's entry into Conservative leadership race

Since announcing his candidacy for the Leader of the Conservative Party, I've been inundated with requests to comment on Kevin O'Leary. The question on everyone's mind is the same: "Is the cold, money-driven person we see on television what we will get as a potential political leader?” It's the exact same question I've received from Canadians from coast to coast since we co-starred on Dragon's Den together. And the answer is yes, he's exactly the same person privately as he is on camera. (CBC)

John Ivison: Kevin O’Leary is ‘in’ and the Tory leadership race is now his to lose

We need to talk about Kevin. I have tried not to during coverage of the Conservative leadership contest but am obliged to desist from the experiment. O’Leary is “in” and is now very publicly committed to a race that runs a real risk of failure. His “trust me, I’m on TV” persona is not the product of grand slam business success. His career has been checkered, to say the least, ranging from his ignominious departure from Mattel, after the company bought his educational software firm TLC for $4 billion and later sold it for $27 million, to the performance of his mutual fund company. (National Post)

Campbell Clark: Kevin O’Leary’s entry could push some contenders out of Conservative race

So that was it? After all the tease and self-hype, Kevin O’Leary’s campaign launch was a one-minute Facebook video and some interviews on morning TV. No rally, no cheers, no big event. Mr. O’Leary slipped into the campaign like he was taping a new show. But his arrival will shake the Conservative leadership contest. Win or lose, his fame will help him suck up a lot of the oxygen of the race. And some of the other candidates will soon struggle to find breathing room. They are already trying to push back, charging, for example, that Mr. O’Leary is really a Liberal. (Globe and Mail)

Andrew Coyne: The Senate has no business meddling with the federal budget

Whether we know it or not, a constitutional crisis is upon us. Though much predicted, it was always supposed to be somewhere in the offing, a vaguely unsettling prospect but not one that would ever be realized. Well now it is here — whether we know it or not, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. The cause of the crisis is the Senate, and its increasing pretensions of superiority over the House of Commons: the demonstrated readiness of a few dozen appointed senators to overrule the elected representatives of the people. Or rather, the Senate is the locus for the crisis. The cause of the crisis is the ill-considered “reform” of the upper house under the present government. (National Post)

Timothy Taylor: Claims that immigration helps or hurts economies may not add up

The 49th parallel seems to almost perfectly bifurcate the debate about immigration these days. South of the border, we have a president who promises to build a wall to stop illegal Mexican inflows. Donald Trump’s official stance on immigration contends that this hardline approach aims to, among other things, “boost wages and ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first.” (BC Business)