True North Initiative: News Scan 01 23 17


Trump Vows to Move Quickly on NAFTA in Meetings with Mexican, Canadian Leaders

President Trump said Sunday that he’ll discuss immigration and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement when he meets soon with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, part of a busy fourth day for his administration. “Anybody ever hear of NAFTA,” Trump said during a White House swearing-in of several top administration officials including senior adviser Kellyanne Conway. “I ran a campaign somewhat based on NAFTA, on immigration and security at the border. And Mexico has been terrific.” (FOX News) (Financial Times) (Breitbart

Trump says he will meet with PM Trudeau, begin 'renegotiating' NAFTA

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will soon be meeting with the prime ministers of Canada and the United Kingdom. “We have set up meetings with the prime minister of the United Kingdom and Prime Minister May will be coming over the United States shortly. We’re also meeting with the prime minister of Canada,” Trump said at a swearing-in ceremony for senior staff Sunday. (CTV)

Liberal government weighs trade deals with U.S. that may exclude Mexico

The Liberal government is weighing whether new trade deals with the United States should exclude Mexico as Canada seeks to avoid “collateral damage” from President Donald Trump’s preoccupation with America’s southern neighbour. David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, arrived in Calgary Sunday evening in order to brief cabinet during a two-day retreat that begins Monday. (Globe and Mail)

Canada not the focus of Trump's NAFTA talk, ambassador says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet colleagues have arrived in Calgary for a three-day retreat to ready themselves for the realities of governing in the Donald Trump era, and to hear from experts who they've tapped to help guide them through a potentially tumultuous time with the new president. "Discussions throughout the retreat will span a range of issues — including strengthening the economy and growing the middle class, security, and the strength of the Canada-U.S. partnership and maintaining a constructive working relationship with the new administration," Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for the prime minister, said of the meetings. (CBC)

Trump looms large as Canada, allies finalize plans for NATO mission to Latvia

President Donald Trump will loom large when representatives from several NATO countries gather here this week to finalize plans for deployment of a Canadian-led battle group to Latvia starting in the spring. But at least one senior official from the eastern European nation is counselling calm. Canada agreed last year to lead one of four multinational NATO forces in eastern Europe as the military alliance sought to bolster its presence and provide a check on Russian aggression in the region. But that was before the outspoken real-estate mogul and reality TV star, who has repeatedly described NATO as "obsolete" and promised new ties with Russia, became president. (Canadian Press)

Trudeau cabinet retreat to confront the reality of Trump's presidency

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his federal Liberal government will confront the reality of Donald Trump in the White House as his cabinet members gathered Sunday for a three-day retreat that is to include discussions with an adviser to the new president. Up to now, Trudeau has had a relatively smooth ride guiding Canada's relations with the U.S., thanks to being so simpatico with Barack Obama -- natural allies on climate change, with a close personal relationship that oozed brotherly affection. Now the Liberals are girding for a major reset with Washington, which is expected to be the main topic for Liberal ministers during their upcoming meetings. (CTV) (Toronto Star)

Liberal peacekeeping decision paused because of uncertainty around Trump

Much to the frustration of Canada's allies at the United Nations, the Trudeau government postponed the delivery of its long-anticipated peacekeeping plan last month principally because it needed a better read on what the Trump administration expects of Canada in terms of international defence and security. It has been almost five months since Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and former foreign affairs minister Stéphane Dion announced the country would commit 600 troops and 150 police officers to various international peace support missions. (CBC)

CSIS, Defence warned Ottawa on China laser technology deal

National-security agencies counselled Ottawa against allowing a Chinese firm to take over a Montreal high-tech company, warning it would undermine a technological edge that Western militaries have over China, The Globe and Mail has learned. “If the technology is transferred, China would be able to domestically-produce advanced-military laser technology to Western standards sooner than would otherwise be the case, which diminishes Canadian and allied military advantages,” said a national-security assessment prepared for cabinet by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in 2015. (Globe and Mail)

New National Security Oversight committee likely to cost more than any other House or Senate security committees

The upcoming special National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians will likely be more expensive in its initial setup and annual operating costs compared to any other House and Senate national security-related committees, according to Public Safety documents. (Hill Times)

Canadian Rangers lack support and health care access, military ombudsman says

The Canadian Rangers are not getting access to the health care services they deserve and lack sufficient support staff, according to the Canadian Forces ombudsman's initial investigation into Canada's northern patrol units. The Rangers are part of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve, but are not considered reservists. Generally they are part-time volunteers from the remote communities where they serve. Often called the "eyes and ears of Canada's North," they are responsible for reporting unusual activities, collecting data to support military operations and conducting surveillance when required in Canada's North. (CBC)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Trump takes charge: How NAFTA renegotiations might unfold – CBC Analysis

The soundbites from Donald Trump's inauguration speech could strike fear into a free trader's heart. "We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs," he vowed Friday. "We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American." Minutes later, a rewritten White House website: (CBC)

Diplomacy a new game for Ottawa with Trump presidency, Lloyd Axworthy says

Canada's former foreign affairs minister says the federal Liberal government is going to have to rethink old approaches as U.S. President Donald Trump settles into office south of the border. Lloyd Axworthy said the new president's stance on a variety of issues including immigration, border security and international trade change the game for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet. (CBC)

Beware of ‘Canadian sensitivity’: Declassified documents reveal what the CIA really thinks about us

Last week, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency released nearly one million declassified documents online. Spanning an era from the Second World War all the way to the 1990s, the release includes more than 12 million pages of briefings and top-secret cables giving a behind-the-scenes look at U.S. policy during the Cold War. And every once in a while, the documents mention us. The National Post did a comprehensive search of all 2,000 documents mentioning “Canada.” The highlights are below, some of which are being published for the first time. (National Post)

Harper’s Conservative Party fundraising role appears unprecedented, expected to mobilize base

Former prime ministers have helped out party fundraising efforts in the past, but Stephen Harper’s role as a board member for the Conservative Party’s fundraising arm appears unprecedented in modern history, and his signature on appeals to party members is a boon to fundraising, say political insiders. “It speaks to the knowledge and connection that the Conservative fundraising team has with their base, and the appeal that Stephen Harper has with their base. Why not use the tool to your disposal if it’s going to result in what you’re hoping it will, which is money into the coffers?” said Tim Powers, a vice-chairman at Summa Strategies and past Conservative adviser. (Hill Times)

A ‘Shark Tank’ celebrity hopes to emulate Trump’s path from reality TV to political power

“Canada's Donald Trump” may seem at first like a contradiction in terms. But Kevin O'Leary, another brash businessman and reality TV host, has entered the race to lead Canada's Conservative Party in what some see as an effort to capitalize on Donald Trump’s political success south of the border. “I am the only one that can defeat [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau,” O'Leary, 62, said after announcing his candidacy to succeed Stephen Harper as the leader of Canada’s center-right Conservatives. (Washington Post)

Trudeau not first politician to face heat for ride in Aga Khan’s helicopter

If only Justin Trudeau had bumped into Earl Deveaux at the airport in the Bahamas — he might have been able to save himself a chopper-load of political grief. After all, Deveaux — formerly the island nation's environment minister — has himself been a passenger on board the Aga Khan's private helicopter, just like Trudeau, and was made to suffer the professional consequences. It was September 2010 when someone snapped a photo of Deveaux walking away from the helicopter in question during a stopover on his way to the Aga Khan's private island — the same island Trudeau and his family visited during a New Years getaway. (Canadian Press)

B.C.'s Syrian refugees face income squeeze with switch to provincial welfare

For Bassam Sua’Ifan and Yousra Al Qablawi, money was already tight. Rent, utilities, car insurance and the cost of feeding and caring for seven children account for the family’s entire budget. Now the Syrian refugee family must make some hard budget choices as their income been reduced by close to $500 a month, Bassam says, with the transition from federal support to B.C. welfare. Hundreds of Syrian families who arrived in B.C. between December 2015 and March 2016 are experiencing the same thing. (Vancouver Sun)

Justin Trudeau mocked for baffling immigration remark

In Dartmouth, N.S., Monday, Justin Trudeau said that because his maternal grandfather was born in Scotland, he understands the immigrant experience. In Kingston, Ont., last week, Trudeau was asked what to do if he got a spot on his tie — and he had a handy tip. And, of course, in Peterborough, Ont., he forced his aides into some damage control when he blurted out that the oilsands ought to be phased out. (Toronto Sun)

Committee formed to investigate refugee and immigrant resettlement society in Prince George, B.C.

Members of the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society in Prince George, B.C., have voted to investigate the society's operations during a contentious annual general meeting Saturday. The publicly-funded organization provides resettlement and support services for immigrants and refugees in central B.C. Problems started when executive director Baljit Sethi, who founded IMSS forty years ago, refused to report on the society's operations. "There is a report in the package," she said. "But there are certain issues that I didn't want to touch upon." (CBC)

Trump targets violent Islamist groups as foreign policy priority

The Trump administration will make defeating “radical Islamic terror groups” its top foreign policy goal, according to a statement posted on the White House website moments after Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president. Trump, a Republican, used his inaugural address on Friday to promise to “unite the civilised world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.” (South China Morning Post)

Trump calls protests 'a hallmark of our democracy' in toned-down response to marches

President Donald Trump is striking a more unifying tone as he gets down to business on his second full day in the White House. Speaking in the East Room of the White House during a swearing-in ceremony for 30 new "assistants to the president," Trump told his top advisers that they're in the White House not to "help ourselves" but to "devote ourselves to the national good." (CBC)



Candice Malcolm: Ahmed Hussen has shown courage and conviction

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a man of many flaws. Regular readers of this column will be familiar with his many shortfalls and the many ways he is leading Canada in the wrong direction. Fortunately for Trudeau, he also has a few redeeming qualities. One of Trudeau’s strengths is the ability to know his own limits, and the wisdom to delegate. Trudeau surrounds himself with bright and capable people who can pick up the slack and do the heavy day-to-day lifting needed to run the government of a G20 nation. This talent was on display when Trudeau kicked off 2017 by shuffling his cabinet. (Toronto Sun)

Ezra Levant: (UPDATE: Found!) Rebel reporter assaulted at Women's March — $1,000 reward to find him

Yesterday our Alberta bureau chief, Sheila Gunn Reid, was hit in the face by an NDP thug, right on the steps of the Alberta Legislature. Sheila had gone there to report on a left-wing “Women’s March.” It was basically an NDP rally against Donald Trump. So: the usual professional protesters from the left. (Rebel)

Chantal Hebert: Trudeau's progress on his agenda will be affected by course of U.S. under Trump

Stéphane Dion was the first Canadian political casualty of the Donald Trump era. Significant parts of Justin Trudeau’s agenda could yet be next. Dion’s removal from his foreign affairs cabinet post was the central piece of last week’s cabinet shuffle. Trump’s imminent inauguration provided a rationale for precipitating the former Liberal leader’s political retirement and replacing him with the more U.S.-savvy Chrystia Freeland as well as for an early overhaul of Trudeau’s ministerial team. (Toronto Star)

Michael Den Tandt: Canada’s strongest card in the era of Trump: We buy American

It’s no big shocker, in a country leaning heavily Democrat, that reaction to President Donald Trump’s truculent inaugural speech in the first 48 hours has run the gamut from fear, to loathing, to horror. But a pause for breath is in order. There’s room for qualified reassurance, from a Canadian standpoint, in the blunt clarity of the new administration’s plans. (National Post)

Roger L. Simon: The Pointless Paranoia of the Women's Marches

I am no stranger to protesting, having marched so often in the sixties and seventies that I sometimes felt as if I were chanting "Hey, hey, LBJ"  in my sleep.  But I have come to think over the years that too much demonstrating can get to be a bad habit, like smoking. Now I'm not talking here about the Gloria Steinems and Michael Moores, for whom protest is so much a way of life they couldn't exist without it. Or the Madonnas who, like other entertainment stalwarts, have business reasons for constantly reminding us they are still have their "edge" even as they age, liberally dropping the f-bomb and speculating about bombing the White House in the process. (PJ Media)

Douglas Todd: The pros and cons of diversity

UBC social psychologist Ara Norenzayan thinks most people pay only lip service to diversity. We’re often told in Canada it’s morally good to “celebrate diversity.” But relatively few actually work with cultural diversity, which, lest we forget, means “difference.” In some circles it’s even controversial to suggest there are “pros and cons” to diversity, since some believe it’s an absolute positive. But what if there can be downsides to different cultures existing side by side? (Vancouver Sun)

Brian Stewart: Why the spy trade is such a booming industry

The alleged Russian plot that targeted the U.S. presidential election has raised concerns we're headed for Cold War levels of spying, but there's actually plenty of evidence the world soared past that point years ago. In a CBC News documentary that aired four years ago, intelligence experts described new global threats as almost a pandemic of espionage that seems to know no limits. It was clear revolutionary forms of spying had emerged, the most powerful of which was the kind of cyberattack skulduggery Russia allegedly used to try to destabilize the Democrats and help Republican Donald Trump win the presidency. (CBC)