True North Initiative: News Scan 02 03 17


Terror at our door: More than 300 foreign terrorists, spies and criminals who pose a risk to Canada’s national security tried to sneak into Canada last year

It outlines all visa applications rejected between November 2015 and December 2016, and the grounds for refusal. There were 310 cases where an individual was found inadmissible under Section 34 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) — the section dealing with national security concerns. Among these 310 were seven individuals rejected for “engaging in terrorism,” nine for “engaging in an act of espionage or subversion,” and 13 for “subversion by force” against any government. (Toronto Sun)

No sign Trump's travel ban will impact asylum system: Immigration Dept.

The federal Immigration Department says it has no indication a controversial move by U.S. President Donald Trump to suspend refugee resettlement for 120 days will have an impact on the American asylum system. For that reason, immigration officials say, there's no reason to open up the existing agreement between Canada and the U.S. that governs claims for asylum made at the border. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen had already suggested the so-called safe third country agreement would remain untouched as Canada observed from afar the impact of Trump's decision to suspend some immigration programs for 90 days and all refugee resettlement programs for 120 days. (CTV)

No reason to open up Canada-U.S. refugee pact, federal government says

Donald Trump's suspension of refugee resettlement doesn't appear to affect the U.S. asylum system, negating any need for Canada to revisit how the two countries handle asylum claims at the border, the federal Immigration Department says. But immigration advocates say the new U.S. president has signed more than one border-related executive order in recent weeks that has put the asylum system in jeopardy. They're urging Canadian officials to temporarily suspend the so-called safe third country agreement until everyone can fully understand how all of Trump's orders will affect people seeking protection. (Toronto Star)

U.S. preparing new sanctions for Iran over missile test: AP

The Trump administration is preparing to levy new sanctions on Iran, U.S. officials say, in the first punitive action since the White House put Iran "on notice" after it test-fired a ballistic missile. Up to two dozen Iranian individuals, companies and possibly government agencies could be penalized as part of the move, expected as early as Friday, said the officials and others with knowledge of the decision. The individuals weren't authorized to discuss the unannounced sanctions publicly and insisted on anonymity. (CTV) (Reuters)

Canada's Trudeau decides not to poke U.S. 'grizzly bear' for now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is taking a low key approach to dealing with U.S. President Donald Trump, seeking to avoid clashes while indirectly signalling the two leaders' differences to a domestic audience. Insiders acknowledge the cautious strategy could anger progressives whose support helped bring Trudeau to power in 2015 but say for now, he has no choice but to hold fire: Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the United States and could suffer if it is targeted by Trump. (Reuters)

Calls for tolerance at Montreal funeral for men killed in Quebec City mosque attack

Politicians and Muslim leaders called for greater tolerance and openness at the Montreal funeral today for three of the men killed in the Quebec City mosque shooting. Several thousand people gathered at the Maurice Richard Arena for a service for Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane and Aboubaker Thabti, who were honoured before their bodies are repatriated to their countries of origin. (CBC)

Liberals to analyze risks of cyberattacks to protect Canada’s electoral system

The Liberal government says it is being “proactive” in trying to protect Canada’s electoral system from cyberattacks, after events such as the Russian hacking controversy in the recent U.S. election. On the same day he abandoned his promise to change Canada’s voting system, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould in her mandate letter to lead the government’s efforts to defend the electoral system from cyberthreats, alongside her colleagues at Public Safety and Defence. (Globe and Mail)

CSIS doesn’t know how many Canadians were snared in unlawful data program

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says they don’t know how many Canadians were caught up in an illegal metadata program that operated for almost a decade. In documents tabled in Parliament this week, CSIS told MPs they are “unable” to determine how many innocent people had their data stored and analyzed at the agency’s Operational Data Analysis Centre. The ODAC stored “associated data” — usually called metadata — on individuals that posed no threat to Canada’s national security. In 2016, a Federal Court justice ruled the agency’s decision to keep that data indefinitely was unlawful. (Toronto Star)

Goodale orders review into illegal CSIS metadata program

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has ordered a review into a CSIS metadata program that illegally stored data on innocent Canadians for almost a decade. Goodale said Thursday that he and Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould are examining the circumstances that led CSIS and the Department of Justice to conclude the spy agency could collect and store data on “non-threat” individuals indefinitely. The review was requested after a Federal Court ruled the practice was illegal late last year, Goodale’s office said Thursday night. (Toronto Star)

New Canadians to pledge honour for Indigenous treaties in revised citizenship oath

New Canadians will soon promise to honour treaties with Indigenous peoples as part of their oath of citizenship.The mandate letter for new Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen lists making the change to the swearing-in ceremony as one of his key priorities, along with enhancing refugee resettlement services and cutting wait times for application processing. According to the mandate letter, the proposed change is to reflect the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. (CBC)

French soldier shoots attacker outside Louvre

A French soldier guarding the Louvre in Paris has shot a man who tried to attack a security patrol with a machete shouting "Allahu Akbar", police say. The man, who tried to gain entry to the Louvre's shopping centre, was shot in the abdomen and seriously injured. One soldier sustained a slight head injury. PM Bernard Cazeneuve said the attack was "terrorist in nature". The Louvre, home to numerous celebrated art works, is the world's most visited museum. (BBC)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Could U.S. uncertainty mean more foreign-student cash for Canada?

The number of U.S. students applying to Canada for next fall has soared — and the extra attention could bring significant benefits to the Canadian economy, Universities Canada president Paul Davidson said in an interview Thursday. (CBC)

U.S. travel ban could be boon for Canada's tech sector

A Toronto immigration lawyer says the time is ripe for Canada's technology sector to take advantage of the uncertainty created by a recent clampdown on immigration by President Donald Trump. The sweeping executive order issued by the White House Sunday temporarily bans refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and has reverberated around the world, splitting up families and leaving business travelers stranded at airports. (CBC)

Donald Trump's travel ban may send Syrian doctor to Canada

A young Syrian doctor who stared down a polio epidemic and has worked tirelessly healing others during his country's civil war now faces one his biggest challenges: U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban. Trump's executive order barred all Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely and temporarily halted entry for citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries, including Syria. (CBC)

Record number of refugees checking in at Welcome Place

"January has been an extremely busy month," Rita Chahal, executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, told CBC Thursday. "In January we opened 38 files, which is a record number for us — especially in such cold weather." The number of people seeking out Welcome Place's services has been slowly but steadily increasing, she said. Since October, 118 people have come. Since the beginning of April, they've opened 270 refugee claim files. (CBC)

Kellie Leitch Says There's Nothing Racist About Immigration Plan

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch acknowledged Thursday that her call to screen newcomers will lead to fewer immigrants and refugees admitted to Canada — but she said there’s nothing racist about the plan. In a 2,588-word fundraising email, the Ontario MP, who was the target of protesters for her divisive language after six Quebecers were gunned down in a mosque this week, doubled down on her desire to screen immigrants for so-called “Canadian values.” (Huffington Post)

What will Trump want from Canada on NAFTA? A US federal document may offer clues

Wondering what the Americans might want from Canada in a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement? Multiple clues might be embedded in a document published by the U.S. government. The U.S. publishes an annual list of complaints about trade practices in other countries. (

MPs look for ways to fight 'fake news' in wake of mosque shooting

False information about the suspects in Sunday's mosque shootings circulating on the internet has raised new questions about how to fight the explosion of "fake news." But there are no easy answers on how to stop the spread of lies and misleading news on the web. The Supreme Court of Canada struck down a law that banned "spreading false news" in the case of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel in 1992. It remains as Section 181 in the Criminal Code — a so-called zombie law that can't be enforced. But some believe a new, narrower law could be enacted. (CBC)

Canadians shouldn't ignore trade danger from American protectionism, Brian Mulroney warns

Canadians will have to work hard to ensure the country doesn’t become a target of American protectionism, former prime minister Brian Mulroney says. “We have to be vigilant in safeguarding that market,” Mulroney said in a speech Thursday at Edmonton’s FarmTech 2017, Canada’s largest crop production and farm management conference. “Americans are frustrated by the slow recovery of their economy. Open trade agreements have become an easy whipping boy … Canada will have to work hard to maintain the access we have.” (

Trump's immigration restrictions creating resentment among Iraqis battling ISIS: Aid worker

Contentious U.S. immigration restrictions are hindering charities' work at defusing a humanitarian nightmare around war-torn Mosul just as it's deepening, a Calgary aid-giver said Thursday. The Trump administration's temporary ban on immigration and non-Christian refugees from seven Muslim majority countries including Iraq is causing resentment among Iraqis fighting against the Islamic State, said Bruce Piercy, Asian and Mideast director for Samaritan's Purse. (Calgary Sun)

In Turkey, Canadians learn to live with terrorism

Edmonton native Jennifer Gaudet has invested a lot in this city. Not long after first visiting Istanbul in 2006, she opened a café in the historic Sultanahmet district. Now, she runs Jennifer’s Hamam, a company that sells handwoven Turkish towels known as pestamels out of two stores and a showroom in the historic Arasta Bazaar. The past 12 months have been hard on residents of this megacity, something Gaudet knows better than most. On Jan. 12 last year, a suicide bomber killed 12 German and one Peruvian tourist a few hundred metres from her store. Since then, the retail side of her business has fallen 85 per cent. (Toronto Star)

UN refugee agency braces for more Mexican asylum claims after Trump ban

The United Nations refugee agency is planning for a possible increase in Mexican asylum claims in Canada after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the construction of the Mexico border wall and a temporary ban on all refugee admissions. The UNHCR’s new representative to Canada, Jean-Nicolas Beuze, told The Globe and Mail that the multilateral body is doing everything it can to convince the United States to resume its refugee-resettlement program, which is the largest in the world. (Globe and Mail)

Trump travel ban: Pakistanis fear they're next

Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country, is not on Mr Trump's list. But there is huge concern and anxiety in the community that its inclusion is imminent. "At least 95% of my Green Card holding clients, who had booked their tickets to Pakistan months in advance, have cancelled it," says Mr Salman. He is also getting frantic calls from those already in Pakistan trying to get the earliest possible return dates, even if that means paying stiff charges to change tickets. Mr Trump's order stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and further bans entry of all citizens from seven countries including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. (BBC)

Tense call between Trump and Australian leader strains longtime ties

U.S. ties with staunch ally Australia became strained on Thursday after details about an acrimonious phone call between its leaders emerged and U.S. President Donald Trump said a deal between the two nations on refugee resettlement was "dumb." During a 25-minute phone call last Saturday with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump accused Australia of trying to export the "next Boston bombers" under the agreement, the Washington Post reported. (Yahoo)

Iran dismisses Trump's 'ranting' and vows more missile tests

Iran vowed Thursday it would not bow to threats from the United States and would continue its missile activity. A senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader, criticized the "extremism" of President Donald Trump, who has declared Iran was "on notice" after it test-fired a ballistic missile Sunday. Following a meeting Thursday with Harley-Davidson executives in the White House, Trump declined to rule out the prospect of military action against the Islamic republic. "Nothing's off the table," he said. (CNN)

Mattis warns North Korea of 'overwhelming' response to nuclear use

The US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said any use of nuclear weapons by North Korea would be met with an "effective and overwhelming" response. Mr Mattis spoke in South Korea, where he had been reaffirming US support, before flying to Tokyo. He also reconfirmed plans to deploy a US missile defence system in South Korea later this year. North Korea's repeated missile and nuclear tests and aggressive statements continue to alarm and anger the region. (BBC)



Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Liberal MP): I'm Deeply Sorry My Party Broke Its Promise On Electoral Reform

In the last election, we promised to reform our voting system and make every vote count. That promise is now broken. In the Minister of Democratic Institutions' new mandate letter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau writes: "Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate." I am disappointed that we have broken our promise, and I strongly disagree with our government's decision to abandon electoral reform. (Huffington Post)

Carolyn Zaikowski: Canada is a progressive immigration policy dream — unless you have a disability

The problem is that Canada’s immigrant policy isn’t quite as dreamy as Americans might imagine. It includes a virtual ban on disabled immigrants that goes back decades: Under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, foreigners can be turned away if they “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demands on health or social services.” What this means is families turned away for having deaf children and spouses denied because they use a wheelchair, a practice too harsh for even the United States’ difficult immigration system. (Washington Post)

Ayaan Hlrsl All: Trump’s Immigration Ban Was Clumsy But He’s Right About Radical Islam

I was a Muslim refugee once. I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to gamble your entire future on a one-way ticket to a foreign land, what it’s like to fill in the forms, not knowing for sure what the right answers are. I know what it’s like to fear rejection, deportation and the dangers that await you back home. Yet today I am an American citizen, one who has more reason than most to fear Islamic extremism. And that’s why I want to plead with my fellow Americans to calm down and think rationally about the dilemmas and trade-offs that we face. (Huffington Post)

Joshua Ostroff: How Trudeau Should Respond To Trump's Muslim Refugee Ban. It Doesn't Involve Twitter

In the past would-be asylum seekers could come to Canada from anywhere but that changed in 2004 with the Safe Third Country Agreement, she says. Now anyone making a refugee claim at the U.S. border, except unaccompanied minors or those with close relatives, is turned back because the U.S. is considered "safe" for refugees. But with the safety of refugees in Trump's America called into question, Woolger and others are calling for immediate change. Though withdrawing from the agreement would require six months notice, it has a provision allowing for an immediate three-month suspension. (Huffington Post)

John Ivison: Anti-O’Leary faction struggles to mount serious challenge in Tory leadership race

It was a disturbing juxtaposition — the public funerals for three of the men murdered in the carnage of Quebec City was showing on the office television screen, just as video of Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary blasting away with an automatic weapon at a shooting range hit my Twitter feed. “Look at that thing smoking,” said O’Leary, after unleashing a barrage using an automatic rifle. “Still have my shooting chops from my days as a military cadet,” ran the caption on the tweet. (National Post)

Don Martin: The great divide when it comes to campaign promises

The Great Divide is the watershed weaving through the Rockies along Alberta’s border with British Columbia. But as this week unfolded, sharp contrasts on the political landscape continued to build a greater divide along Canada’s border with the U.S. In another among many polar opposites taking shape in the last two weeks, we now have a sharp difference in how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump handle the fundamental duty of delivering their campaign promises. (CTV)

Evan Solomon: Trump has forced the left and right to ask: What do we stand for?

Donald Trump is a political mood ring, his fluctuating emotions a daily, thermochromic Twitter display. While keeping pace with his petty celebrity feuds and his pitched battle with the “FAILING” media has a Kardashian-like addictive power, it’s a massive and possibly strategic distraction from the more substantive political change he’s making at hyper speed. Trump has ushered in an era of political realignment and chaos that is having a dramatic impact everywhere, including in Canada. (Macleans)

Colby Cosh: In 2017, when the shooting stops, the media warfare begins

I’ve been reading Gordon Wood’s Empire of Liberty (2009), the best one-volume history of the very early American republic in the years between the enactment of the Constitution and the end of the War of 1812. In many ways, I notice, this story has the structure of an enormous joke. The American revolution was wrought by wealthy landowners, many of whom hoped to reproduce the hierarchical, agrarian lifestyle of the English countryside in the New World. These people became the early Federalists: they largely wanted to mimic the world of old Europe, only with themselves on top as rentiers, eschewing labour and trade alike. (National Post)



  • Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities met yesterday to discuss Poverty Reduction Strategies (Public)
  • Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration met on Wednesday to study the Modernization of Client Service Delivery (Public)
  • Standing Committee on National Defence met yesterday to study Canada and the Defence of North America (Public)
  • Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met on Tuesday to study Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act & Special Economic Measures Act (In Camera)