True North Initiative: News Scan 02 09 17


Teenage girls allegedly touched at WEM water park, man charged with 6 counts of sexual assault - Soleiman is a Syrian refugee, two sources told CBC News on Wednesday.

A 39-year-old man faces six counts of sexual assault after several teenage girls alleged they were inappropriately touched Saturday evening at the West Edmonton Mall World Waterpark. Edmonton police were called to the water park at about 10:30 p.m. after receiving reports of sexual assaults. A man allegedly "both followed and inappropriately touched at least six teen girls while swimming in the park," said police spokesperson Scott Pattison. (CBC)

Arrest leads to renewed criticism of refugee policy

Word that a Syrian refugee was charged with six counts of sexual assault in Edmonton quickly led to social media backlash Wednesday, from some who oppose Canada’s refugee plan. Soleiman Hajj Soleiman, a Syrian refugee and father of six, was charged following an incident at the West Edmonton Mall World Waterpark over the weekend. His arrest led to a heated debate over immigration policy in Canada. (Global)

Trudeau concerned about refugee influx in Manitoba border town

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is “very concerned” about a recent influx of refugee claimants in a small southern Manitoba border town, emphasizing the need to protect both the incoming asylum seekers and Canada’s border. (Globe and Mail)

'Informal' network helping refuge seekers get to Manitoba, U.S. officials say

The rising number of people illegally crossing the U.S. border into Manitoba has not escaped the notice of the Department of Homeland Security. Officials in the U.S. say that "informal" networks of family members and friends, rather than criminal profiteers, are helping refuge seekers get to the border. (CBC)

Census 2016: A picture of a bigger, more urban Canada

On Wednesday, Statistics Canada released the country’s latest family portrait, with the first instalment of the 2016 census data. From amid a dizzying array of figures on the country’s population and the dwellings we live in, Maclean’s selected a few key storylines and asked David Gordon, director of the school of urban and regional planning at Queen’s University, to unpack what it all means. (Macleans)

Low fertility rates mean Canadian growth relies on immigration

After Debbie Clarke’s first child had reached the “terrible twos,” she and her husband decided their family of three was big enough — adding a sibling would be just too much. “At the time I was working really late hours and I just didn’t think it was fair to have another child when I didn’t really have the time and the energy to put into another child,” said Clarke of Mississauga, Ont., whose son Austin is now 15. (Macleans) (Toronto Star)

Queer refugee advocate says Canada is neglecting LGBT refugees in Turkey

LGBT refugees from around the Middle East who have fled to Turkey are less likely to make it to Canada because of the government's focus on resettling Syrian refugees, says Arsham Parsi, executive director of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees. (CBC)

Soldiers serving in Kuwait lose major tax exemption

Canadian troops critical to the fight against ISIS have lost a major tax break that had saved them more than $9,000 each over the course of a six-month tour. The tax breaks, worth between $1,500 to $1,800 per month, are provided to soldiers who meet certain criteria related to the risk of their duties and the relative hardship of their living conditions while deployed overseas. Fifteen soldiers at Camp Arfijan, a base in Kuwait, lost the tax break in September, after the military downgraded the risk level. They fought to get it back, arguing that they faced no less danger or hardship than other soldiers stationed in the country. (CTV)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Ottawa should suspend refugee pact with U.S., Harvard report says

A growing chorus of legal experts on both sides of the border is calling on Ottawa to suspend a bilateral pact that bans asylum seekers from crossing border for protection, warning the U.S. is unsafe for refugees. A Harvard University Law School review is the latest to warn about the negative impact of President Donald Trump’s executive orders on refugees, and is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reconsider the Safe Third Country Agreement. (Toronto Star)

Calgary still Canada's fastest growing city despite downturn, census reveals

Calgary had the highest growth rate of any metropolitan area in Canada over the past five years, despite being in the throes of an economic downturn, according to the latest census data. It has surpassed Ottawa-Gatineau to become the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country, according to 2016 census data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada. (CBC)

Catastrophic fire 'will likely occur' at Halifax explosives depot, military report says

Death, property destruction and severe environmental damage could result from a fire that "will likely occur sometime" at an ammunition depot in the Halifax area, according to an internal military report. The military assessed the fire risk for the Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot in Bedford, N.S., and prepared a report in 2015 that was recently obtained by CBC News. (CBC)

Ex-soldier and cancer survivor evicted during wait for military pension

In receiving her second cancer diagnosis within the span of two years, Tricia Beauchamp's doctor said something that stuck with her. "It's called unlucky," she recalls him saying. Beauchamp is a retired air force sergeant and single mother who spent 27 years in the military's logistics branch as a traffic technician. In that role, it was her job to get supplies and equipment where they were needed with no fuss or muss. (CBC)

Pair of Ontario Liberal trials set for September in Sudbury and Toronto

Two trials involving charges against Ontario Liberals are set to take place simultaneously this fall, setting the stage for possible verdicts just months ahead of the June 2018 election. Lawyers for two Liberals facing Election Act bribery charges appeared in court Wednesday in Sudbury as trial dates were set for Sept. 7-22, Oct. 10-13 and 23-27. (Toronto Sun)

Steven Blaney Says He'll 'Dismantle' Reserves To Help First Nations Become 'Fully Canadian'

Conservative leadership contender Steven Blaney says that by dismantling First Nations reserves, indigenous people can move forward to become "fully Canadian." Blaney, a former public safety minister under the previous Conservative government, made the comments Tuesday during an appearance on CBC News' Power and Politics. (Huffington Post)

The B Bomb: new federal cash for Bombardier reignites political tensions

From the West came the calls of a double standard: why are the federal Liberals giving Bombardier Inc. a $372.5-million loan while thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industry remain consigned to the dustbin? From Quebec, cries that the loan for the aerospace company was nothing compared to what the federal government has giving the Ontario auto sector. From behind closed Liberal caucus doors, it was internal pressure from the Quebec caucus that partially forced the government to finally agree on some sort of financial assistance for the company, nearly a year and a half after it first began agitating for support. (Guardian)

Trudeau to meet Angela Merkel in Germany, address European Parliament

Next week’s meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be a symbolic affirmation of their shared values in the Donald Trump era, says Germany’s envoy to Canada. Trudeau’s Berlin visit with Merkel, arguably Europe’s most influential politician, comes as the EU tries to deal with the ascendance of Trump and his protectionist, inward looking “America First” foreign policy. (Toronto Star)

A congressman challenged CNN to name more than 2 white terrorist attacks. It’s not that hard.

It was an unusual exchange even by cable news standards: When CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota asked Wisconsin Republican Rep. Sean Duffy why his party’s leader, Donald Trump, says a lot about Muslim terrorists but nothing about white terrorists, Duffy said that there just haven’t been that many white terrorists recently — and the ones that have existed didn’t represent a broader problem. (Vox)

Trump travel ban: Tough questions in US appeals court hearing

A US appeals court has posed tough questions at those challenging and defending President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban. The order banned entry for all refugees and visitors from seven mainly Muslim nations, until it was halted last week. The three-judge panel raised questions over the limits on the president's power and Mr Trump's evidence to link the seven countries to terrorism. (BBC)

Sarah Palin touted as US ambassador to Canada? You betcha!

Much of her life has played out like a Canadian stereotype: from her favourite food of moose stew to extolling the virtues of hockey moms and her love of snowmobiling. But after a White House spokesman refused to rule out the possibility that Sarah Palin could be the next US ambassador to Ottawa, few in Canada seemed to be embracing the prospect of the former Alaska governor taking up the role. (Guardian)

Trump breaks ice with China in letter to Xi

US President Donald Trump has sent a letter to Xi Jinping, his first direct approach to the Chinese leader. The president thanked Mr Xi for congratulating him on his inauguration last month and said he looked forward to "constructive" relations. Mr Trump has not yet spoken to Mr Xi but did call other world leaders. (BBC)

'It IS popular' Donald Trump shares poll showing SUPPORT for controversial travel ban

The Morning Consult/Politico poll showed 55 per cent of voters approved of the immigration ban, which blocks travel from seven majority Muslim countries – with 35 per cent claiming they “strongly approve” of Trump’s proposal. The only other order more popular than the travel ban is the one revoking federal funding for immigration sanctuary cities. (



Candice Malcolm: Canadians are smart about immigration

A new comprehensive immigration study has left many liberal pundits and journalists in the mainstream media disillusioned about one of their favourite Canadian myths. It turns out, Canadians support sensible immigration policies. Canadians are not naïve. We can tell the difference between good immigration policies — ones that focus on selecting skilled individuals who want to embrace the Canadian way of life — and reckless policies based on reactionary politicking and virtue signaling. (Toronto Sun)

John Ivison: Boost border security funding before Canada finds itself in Donald Trump’s crosshairs

The Trudeau government had best hope that Donald Trump was so preoccupied upbraiding Nordstrom department stores, for discontinuing his daughter Ivanka’s fashion line, that he missed a potentially disastrous item in the Daily Beast this week. The online news site ran an article quoting security officials, who suggested the U.S. is looking in the wrong direction when it comes to border security. The article cited FBI statistics that indicated far more known or suspected terrorists are encountered at the Canadian border than at the Mexican. (National Post)

Terry Glavin: Canadians are not as good as we pretend (but we’re still pretty good)

Here we all were, primping and strutting, basking in the praise of New York Times columnists and Hollywood celebrities and boasting about how much nicer and friendlier we Canadians are in comparison with the bigoted and beastly Americans. Ever since U.S. President Donald Trump’s crude and chaos-inducing Jan. 27 decree raised the American drawbridge against refugees altogether and barred ordinary visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, we’ve been besotted with ourselves. (National Post)

Toronto Star: Census reminds us of importance of immigrants to Canada's future

In recent years, the census has become a symbol of the old-fashioned notion that public policy should be grounded in facts and evidence. So now that the initial data of the 2016 census have been released, what lessons should policy-makers draw? (Toronto Star)

John Ibbitson: Immigration is the only way to reverse Atlantic Canada’s population decline

Whatever will become of Atlantic Canada? The first release of 2016 census data reveals that the four western provinces now account for roughly a third of the population. Ontario is home to just less than 40 per cent, while just fewer than a quarter of Canadians live in Quebec. But a low birth rate, the flight of the young down the road, and the failure to lure immigrants have left the Maritimes and Newfoundland and Labrador with less than 7 per cent of Canada’s population. (Globe and Mail)

Lauren Liu: Women should never be used as political cover

When the federal government reneged on its campaign promise to enact electoral reform last week, it was Minister of Democratic Reform Karina Gould who made the announcement at a press conference, and not the Prime Minister himself. In doing so, Ms. Gould took the fall for a massively unpopular decision, conveyed to her through a mandate letter from the Prime Minister’s Office. This, only weeks after she was named to her new role, inheriting a file that was already in the final stages of crisis. (Globe and Mail)



  • Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities meet later today to discuss Poverty Reduction Strategies (Public) (800am EST)
  • Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration met yesterday to study Family Reunification (Partly Public)
  • Standing Committee on National Defence meet later today to continue study on Canada the Defence of North America (Public) (3:30pm EST)
  • Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development meet ater today to receive a briefing by Global Partnership for Education Human Rights Situation in Burundi (Partly Public) (8:45am EST)