True North Initiative: News Scan 04 05 17


RCMP, CSIS launch investigations into phone spying on Parliament Hill after CBC story

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the RCMP and CSIS have launched investigations in response to a CBC News/Radio-Canada report, which revealed that someone is using devices that track and spy on cellphones in the area around Parliament Hill. "Obviously we are very anxious to determine who lies at the source of this activity and that's why both CSIS and the RCMP are investigating," Goodale said. (CBC)

Canada's quality of life ranks in middle of 'peer' countries: report

Canada's quality of life ranks just below the middle of a group of 16 similar countries, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada. The report, How Canada Performs, ranks the country using 10 indicators that range from income inequality and the gender wage gap to the homicide and burglary rates. Canada comes 10th out of 16 countries. (CBC) (Yahoo)

Research finds refugees have same economic success as other Canadians, but it takes time

A UBC researcher says three decades of census data shows refugees, on average, cost the country no more in the long term than someone born here. Professor of Geography Dan Hiebert says the financial status of refugees living in Canada's six biggest cities will eventually mirror the rest of the population, although it can take up to 20 years. (CBC)

Chinese ambassador says human rights, democracy shouldn’t factor in trade deal

China’s new ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, disagrees with his counterpart John McCallum when it comes to including mention of human rights in a free trade agreement between the two countries. Just last week, Mr. McCallum said human rights would be part and parcel of a potential free trade agreement between Canada and China, as reported by the Canadian Press. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backed the statement up, saying it was his intention to “grow our economy and defend our jobs” while also “standing up for” Canadian values and principles.  (Hill Times)

ISIS Officially Taunts Trump, Ending a Conspicuous Silence

Although members and supporters of the Islamic State have frequently commented on President Trump and his policies, analysts have been puzzled by the terrorist group’s official silence about him. Mr. Trump had not been mentioned in any of the group’s official media — all frequent venues for criticism or taunting of former President Barack Obama and other world leaders. (NY Times)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

CPC membership debacle: Tamil Conservative Party members feel unjustly called out

Several Tamil Conservative Party members are urging the Conservative Party of Canada to continue its investigation into the disallowed memberships it discovered, and to ultimately release the names of those responsible. Roshan Nallaratnam, who ran for the Conservative Party in the 2015 federal election but lost to Liberal Bill Blair (Scarborough Southwest, Ont.), and Raj Subramaniam say the recent membership fraud debacle in the Conservative Party leadership race reflects poorly on the entire Tamil Canadian community, and is discouraging to Canadian Tamils who want to get involved in local politics. (Hill Times)

Mulroney to attend Liberal cabinet meeting to advise on NAFTA

Former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney will have a seat at the table at an upcoming Liberal cabinet meeting to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement, the pivotal deal he helped negotiate more than 20 years ago that now faces an uncertain future. CTV News has learned that Mulroney accepted an invitation to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canada-U.S. cabinet committee for the important meeting Thursday morning. (CTV)

Liberals say no to mandatory and online voting

The Liberal government says it will not pursue mandatory or online voting for federal elections. The Liberals had raised the ideas for consideration in their 2015 election platform and tasked the special committee on electoral reform with studying the possibilities. But MPs on the special committee were divided on the merits of mandatory voting and concerned about the security of online voting, and recommended against pursuing either. (CBC)

Tory MP to revive Cotler's organ trafficking bill

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis announced Tuesday he will try and bring back to life a Liberal bill banning Canadians from participating in international organ trafficking. Genuis, also the opposition critic for international human rights and religious freedom, said in a press conference at the National Press Theatre that he will reintroduce C-561, which was brought before the last Parliament by former human rights advocate and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler but died on the order paper after first reading when the writ dropped. (IPolitics)

White House blames Obama admin for suspected Syria chemical attack

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that a suspected chemical attack in a Syrian town was a "consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution." "Today's attack is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world," Spicer told reporters. "These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he'd establish a red line against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The U.S. stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable act." (ABC)

Syria chemical 'attack': Russia rebel weapons claim rejected

Russian claims that a release of chemicals that killed and injured dozens of civilians in northern Syria came from rebel weapons on the ground have been rejected. Britain's foreign secretary, a rebel commander and a weapons expert all said the evidence pointed to an attack by Syrian government forces. (BBC)

CNBC Asks Facebook Fans: ‘Do You Agree With ISIS?’

The CNBC Facebook page asked its followers on Tuesday whether they agreed with the terrorist organization the Islamic State. "Do you agree with ISIS?" asked the post, which linked to a story with the headline "Islamic State says US ‘being run by an idiot.'" (Free Beacon)

Merkel Says Refugees Must Respect German Laws, Values

Chancellor Angela Merkel said refugees in Germany must respect tolerance, openness and freedom of religion, while senior members of her party called for a ban on foreign funding of mosques. Merkel, who will seek a fourth term as chancellor in what is expected to be a tight election in September, has come under fire for allowing more than one million refugees to enter Germany within the past two years. Interviewed by a Syrian journalist who came to Germany in 2015 and asked about what Germany was expecting from refugees, Merkel said in her weekly podcast: "We expect the people who come to us to stick to our laws." (Yahoo)

Illegal immigration plummets after Trump inauguration

Illegal immigration across the southwest border is down more than 60 percent so far under President Trump, officials revealed Tuesday, even before the first new agent is hired or the first mile of his promised border wall is constructed. Mr. Trump took a victory lap over the “record reductions” in illegal crossers, saying he is already saving Americans’ jobs by preventing them from having to compete with unauthorized workers. “Down 61 percent since inauguration. Gen. Kelly is doing a fantastic job,” Mr. Trump told a labor union gathering in Washington, praising Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general. (Washington Times)

Venezuela Reminds Us That Socialism Frequently Leads to Dictatorship

On March 29, the Supreme Court of Venezuela dissolved the country's elected legislature, allowing Venezuela's top court to write future laws. The court is filled with allies of Venezuela's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, while the legislature is dominated by Maduro's opponents, and the court's ruling was seen as the latest step on Venezuela's descent into a full-fledged dictatorship. But following international outcry—as well as the appearance of cracks within Maduro's own party—the court reversed itself just a few days later, on April 1. (Reason)



Lorne Gunter: Sorry Justin Trudeau, but radical Islam is a problem

In Justin Trudeau’s Canada, if I mention the Islamist ties of Akbardzhon Dzhalilov, the 22-year-old suspected of carrying out the subway bombing that killed 14 in St. Petersburg, Russia on Monday, am I guilty of Islamophobia? What if I also mention that Khalid Masood, the man who mowed down scores of pedestrians, killing three, and stabbed a police officer to death outside the British Parliament last week, was a convert to Islam? Am I guilty of a crime against Canada’s new politically correct speech codes? (Toronto Sun)

Anthony Furey: Iraqis wanted our jets to keep fighting ISIS, docs reveal

Justin Trudeau’s very first foreign affairs decision wasn’t only deeply unpopular with the Canadian people but upset our allies too, a newly-unearthed document reveals. Only days after the 2015 election, as prime minister designate, Trudeau phoned then-president Barack Obama to confirm we’d be withdrawing our CF18 fighter jets from the coalition fight against the Islamic State. (Toronto Sun)

Globe editorial: At the border, it’s security theatre of the absurd

It is known as “security theatre,” a suite of frequently invasive measures that provide the appearance of bolstering the safety of travellers, while in fact accomplishing very little. A lavish new production may be about to open in the United States, staged by the creators of such hits as “Take Your Shoes Off At The Airport” and “Wand the Old Lady In the Wheelchair.” The Trump administration is reported to be contemplating rules to force visitors arriving at the border from a raft of countries – possibly including even European allies such as France and Germany – to hand over their social media passwords and provide access to the contacts on their phones. (Globe and Mail)

Chris Doyle: Crackdown on WhatsApp is not the main message in terror fight

One of the prickliest debates after the March 22 attack in Westminster, London, was over the encryption of messages. The British government was publicly seething that the security services were not able to access the last WhatsApp messages of the attacker, Khalid Masood, as they were protected by end-to-end encryption. British Home Secretary Amber Rudd demanded such access: “We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp — and there are plenty of others like that — don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.” She had a meeting with major tech companies to address this, but human rights campaigners queried the lack of transparency about the meetings’ agenda. (Arab News)

Peter MacKay: It’s time for Canada to get tough with Putin and his thugs. Here’s how we can do it

What kind of country assassinates the opposition leader virtually on the steps of their legislature; puts hits out on citizens who speak out against them, even outside its borders; orders the persecution of government employees; foreign politicians and governments to cyber attacks; sends troops across sovereign borders and generally behaves like a 16th century dictatorship? The answer, of course, is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. (National Post)

Rona Ambrose: Trudeau is nickel-and-diming Canadians to death

Justin Trudeau just made your life more expensive. And he couldn’t care less. Picture this: You’re one of the almost two million Canadians who claim the Public Transit Tax Credit on your taxes every year – the majority of whom make less than $50,000 per year. You ride the bus in Edmonton, the subway in Toronto, or the AMT commuter train in Montreal every day. Your pass costs over $100 per month, but the tax credit saves you a few hundred dollars at tax time, which helps. (Calgary Sun)



-       The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration meet later today to meet with Immigration Consultants and for committee business (Public) (3:30pm)

-       The Standing Committee on National Defence met yesterday for committee business (Partly Public)

-       The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met yesterday for committee business (In Camera)