True North Initiative News Scan 03 27 18

TOP STORIES

Liberal approval rating drops to 44% as women, middle class look to Tories: Ipsos poll

Discontent with the Trudeau Liberals has grown to such a level that if a federal election were held tomorrow, the Conservatives would romp to a comfortable win. That’s according to a new Ipsos poll that found the Liberals to be hemorrhaging support even among their target demographics, namely the middle class, women and millennials, with many progressives increasingly weighing up a vote for the NDP. (Global)

Trudeau, Trump discuss Russian spy attack, NAFTA in phone call

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke over the phone with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday evening about the situation with Russia. A press release from the PMO’s office said the the pair “discussed measures taken by Canada and the United States to support our common ally against Russia in response to the egregious nerve agent attack in Salisbury, United Kingdom.” (Global)

Irregular border crossings see slight increase in February

The number of people crossing the Canada-U.S. border between legal checkpoints slightly increased in February, new numbers show, and Ottawa is bracing for a possible spike as the weather warms this spring. In total, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 1,565 people were intercepted by the RCMP last month. As has been the case for over a year now, the vast majority of them (1,486 or 95 per cent) crossed in Quebec. (Global)

Kinder Morgan pipeline protester faces immigration charges

A pipeline protester arrested for mischief and assault outside Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby tank farm now faces immigration charges as well, according to fellow protesters. The woman was arrested after police were called to the 8000 block of Shellmont Street just before 8 a.m. last Wednesday (March 21) for reports several demonstrators had climbed onto a truck headed into the terminal. (Vancourier)

Assessment of former hostage Joshua Boyle to take two more weeks

Another two weeks are needed to complete a psychiatric assessment of former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle, who faces several assault charges. Boyle dialled in via telephone to a brief court hearing today, and his next appearance is slated for April 9 via video conference. Lawrence Greenspon, a lawyer for Boyle, told the court in late January that an initial evaluation found his client fit to stand trial, but added that he would benefit from a fuller assessment at a mental health centre in Brockville, Ont. (Globe and Mail) (Global)

Trudeau Accuses Scheer Of Playing 'Petty Politics' With Private Briefing Offer

Despite what the calendar says, it's seemingly Groundhog Day in the House of Commons after the government and Opposition repeated the same question and answer about the Jaspal Atwal affair in question period Monday. Conservatives kept poking the government to answer if the prime minister had any knowledge that his national security advisor, Daniel Jean, was going to brief the media about Atwal. (Huffington Post)

Freeland criticizes Indian diplomats for interfering in Ontario cultural festival

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office says it was “inappropriate” for Indian diplomats to interfere in a cultural festival outside of Toronto. The allegations stem from a controversy last summer in which Indian consular officials reportedly tried to dissuade the annual Carabram festival in Brampton, Ont. – a city west of Toronto with a large Indian population – from having separate Punjab and India pavilions. Punjab is the only state in India with a Sikh majority. (Globe and Mail)

Ethics loophole keeps Aga Khan's gifts to Trudeau family secret

An apparent loophole in the federal government's ethics rules may prevent Canadians from ever knowing what gifts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family received from the Aga Khan during their controversial vacation on his private island in the Bahamas, CBC News has learned. Trudeau's office says he doesn't have to tell Canadians about the Christmas gifts he and the Aga Khan exchanged because he told Canada's ethics commissioner. (CBC)

Brit kids BRAINWASHED by ISIS show disturbing signs after returning to UK

The disturbing signs were noticed during social worker assessments who said a tot got “overexcited” by the mention of weapons and “runs around mimicking shooting people”. It was revealed the boy was made to pose with an AK-47 assault rifle and was dressed in ISIS-suporting clothes, court papers claimed. The tot, who can’t be named for legal reasons and is known as “Y”, was assessed when he first returned to the UK in 2015. (Daily Star)

 

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Panhandlers calling themselves refugees appear on GTA streets

Two women wearing head coverings panhandle on the side of the highway. Another woman with a headscarf asks for spare change from passersby on a downtown street. Still another begs at the crossroads at the heart of Toronto, Dundas Square. It is how these women are appealing for money that sets them apart from the many others trying to survive on Toronto’s streets: they say they are refugees. (BTTToronto)

B.C. government loses Trans Mountain appeal in federal court

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled against the B.C. government’s bid to appeal a National Energy Board ruling allowing Kinder Morgan to bypass local bylaws during construction. The NEB had ruled in December that the energy giant does not have to abide by the City of Burnaby’s zoning and tree-cutting guidelines because the federal scope and jurisdiction of the project supersede local bylaws. (CTV)

No reason legalized pot should prompt tighter screening at U.S. border: Goodale

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says there's no reason why legalizing marijuana in Canada should create headaches for Canadians when they try to cross the border into the United States. Goodale notes that it will remain illegal for Canadians to take cannabis across the border into the U.S., just as it will remain illegal for Americans to bring cannabis into Canada. (CBC)

B.C. to ask Ottawa for more tools to fight money laundering

The federal government should provide more tools for police and provinces when it comes to money laundering, says the person tasked with investigating the subject for the B.C. government. Lawyer Peter German — a former deputy commissioner of the RCMP and author of Canada's leading anti-money-laundering law textbook — has recommended that FINTRAC, Canada's financial intelligence unit, share information with police, and that police have adequate resources to pursue leads. (CBC) (Global)

Conservative MPs get into tense, snarky exchange with Morneau at finance committee

The talk turned testy and personal Monday when Finance Minister Bill Morneau appeared before a House of Commons committee to defend the Liberal government's latest budget. He tangled with Conservative members of the finance committee who attempted to take him to task over the growing size of the federal debt and questioned his commitment to promoting gender equality. (CBC)

Quebec man tortured in Mexican prison wants answers from federal government

Régent Boily sits in his kitchen at his home near Montreal, where he has been living since he was released from a Mexican prison. Daylight streams in from a large window. This is "his favourite spot," after spending more than 10 years locked away. That incarceration left its mark on the 74-year-old. Though still quick-witted, his gestures are marked by nervousness. (CBC)

Murder of elderly woman in Paris probed as anti-Semitic

French authorities say the killing of an elderly Jewish woman in Paris is being investigated as an anti-Semitic murder.  The woman, identified in French media as Mireille Knoll, was stabbed at least 11 times and her body was set on fire. The Paris prosecutor's office said Monday two suspects have been put in custody. It said it is asking investigating judges to charge the pair with premeditated murder of a vulnerable person for anti-Semitic motives. The office also asked for the suspects to be jailed pending trial. (FOX)

US, allies band together to expel Russians over spy case

From Washington to Warsaw, Western nations banded together Monday to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats they accused of being spies, punishing Moscow for its alleged poisoning of an ex-intelligence officer in Britain. President Donald Trump, under constant political heat for his reluctance to challenge Russia, ordered 60 of its diplomats out of the U.S. — all of them spies, the White House said. The United States called it the largest expulsion of Russian spies in American history, and also shuttered Russia's consulate in Seattle, deeming it a counterintelligence threat. (Yahoo)

Vladimir Putin ready to make 'FINAL DECISION' in chilling warning to Britain

Putin’s spokesman warned a decision taken by western states to expel Russian diplomats is a “mistake” following the booting out of 129 across the world – including 60 from the US. The Kremlin branded the move “provocative” and putting the world on a “confrontational path”. Russia now waits as Putin – who was elected to serve as president for another six years last Sunday – readies to make the “final decision” on how his nation will respond to the West. (Daily Star)

Russia, China eclipse US in hypersonic missiles, prompting fears

Russia and China are outpacing the United States in the development of super-fast missile technology, Pentagon officials and key lawmakers are warning. Russia says it successfully tested a so-called hypersonic missile this month, while China tested a similar system last year expected to enter service soon. (The Hill)

FCC wants Chinese tech out of US phones, routers

U.S. officials are discouraging U.S. telephone and internet companies from purchasing Chinese technology that could be used for surveillance, Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai announced Monday. “Threats to national security posed by certain communications equipment providers are a matter of bipartisan concern,” Pai said. “Hidden ‘back doors’ to our networks in routers, switches — and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment — can provide an avenue for hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more.” (Washington Examiner)

Texas teen was beaten, had hot cooking oil poured on her after refusing arranged marriage: police

Parents of a Texas high school student who was reported missing in late January had abused their daughter after she refused an arranged marriage, leading her to run away from home until she was found in mid-March, police said. Maarib Al Hishmawi, 16, was reported missing on Jan. 30 after she was last seen leaving Taft High School in Bexar County. She was located in mid-March when she was taken in by an organization that cared for her after she ran away, KSAT reported. (FOX)

Orlando nightclub shooter's father, an FBI informant, brushed off son's terror comments, agent says

The Orlando nightclub shooter's dad – revealed to be an FBI informant – told authorities who were investigating Omar Mateen before the attack that pro-terror comments the would-be gunman made to coworkers were just examples of him “being stupid," an agent testified Monday. (FOX)

Terrorist is killed after driving through the gates of a California AIR FORCE base, setting himself on fire and crashing as his vehicle packed with propane tanks burst into flames

A motorist's vehicle burst into flames after it 'gained unauthorized access' to the main gate of a Northern California Air Force base. The incident is being considered an act of terror. Travis Air Force Base officials and the FBI said they are investigating the Wednesday night event in which the motorist died after crashing the vehicle at the military installation. (Daily Mail)

Bodies of those killed in Iraq to be brought to India by next week: Sushma Swaraj assures families

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today assured the families of 39 Indians killed in Iraq that the bodies would be brought to India by next week, a relative of one of the deceased said.  "We were assured all kind of assistance, including the possibility of a government job to the next of kin," Davinder Singh, younger brother of Gobinder Singh, who was among those killed in Iraq, told over phone after the families of those killed met Swaraj in New Delhi. (Economic Times)

 

EDITORIAL AND OPINION PIECES

Toronto Sun: Women voters sour on Trudeau's feminist act?

It was always a dangerous game for Justin Trudeau to play, casting himself in the role of feminist-in-chief. There’s a delicate balance between looking like a man who is just comfortable with the times and becoming someone who is pandering and condescending. It seems more female voters in Canada may now be putting Trudeau in the latter category than they have in the past. (Toronto Sun)

Mark Bonokoski: Trudeau's Harlequin romance becoming a Grimm's fairy tale

There are myriad reasons for not judging a book by its cover. Justin Trudeau is just the latest example. In the 2015 federal election, young Canadian progressives went to the polls envisioning they’d be walking hand-in-hand through the pages of a Harlequin romance, led by a dashing young political Pied Piper with nice hair, the famous surname of a ghost from the past, and just oozing charisma. (Toronto Sun)

Graham Thomson: Premier Rachel Notley declares 'definitive' victory with pipeline ruling — but is it?

A recent court ruling in British Columbia has Premier Rachel Notley convinced that construction of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project will go ahead this year. “That’s absolutely our timeline,” said a happy Notley on Monday. If only it were that simple. (Edmonton Journal)

Andrew Coyne: Liberals' effort to blackmail churches over abortion opposition backfires

The unseriousness that is the distinguishing feature of this government takes many forms — the prime minister’s foppish persona and shallow philosophizing; his habit of announcing sweeping policy changes, without having first thought how to implement them; the casual jettisoning of some of these, where the consequences proved politically bothersome — but among them is a fanatical seriousness on certain issues, a dogmatic insistence on its position, as intense and unyielding as its commitment to others has proved cynical and transitory. (National Post)

 

REPORTS, COMMITTEE HEARINGS, LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

  • Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development meet today to study the Provision of Assistance to Canadians in Difficulty Abroad (Consular Affairs) (Partly Public)
  • Standing Committee on National Defence meet today to study Canada’s involvement in NATO (Public)
  • Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security meet today to study M-124, Automated External Defibrillators and Indigenous People in the Correctional System (Partly Public)
  • Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration meet today to study Immigration and Refugee Board’s Appointment, Training and Complaint Processes (Public)