True North Initiative: News Scan 04 07 17


American held over 'mock bomb' in suitcase at Toronto airport

A 58-year-old American has been charged with mischief after US officials found a "mock improvised explosive device" in his suitcase. The discovery at Toronto's Pearson International Airport sparked a major security investigation. US Customs and Border Protection called their Canadian counterparts and the mock device was swabbed. No trace of explosives was found. Travellers on the Illinois-bound flight were delayed for hours and re-screened. (BBC) (CTV)

Trump launches military strike against Syria

The United States launched a military strike Thursday on a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians earlier in the week. On President Donald Trump's orders, US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks, US officials said. (CNN) (BBC)

Trudeau offers little hint about Canada’s role against Syria’s Assad

A ghastly chemical attack appears to be pushing the Syrian civil war toward a new turning point, with the new U.S. administration switching course, hinting at military action and vowing to lead an international coalition to oust Bashar Assad. While expressing horror over this week’s attack, which killed more than 80 people, including children, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered little hint about Canada’s role in any effort to remove the Syrian strongman. “This is a war crime and the international community must stand firmly against such things,” Trudeau said Thursday after a day of meetings in New York. (Toronto Star)

Canada not part of U.S. strike on Syria but backs efforts to 'stop atrocities'

Canadian officials say the federal government will have more to say today about an American missile attack on Syria in retaliation for this week's chemical weapons attack which killed at least 80 people. The U.S. fired almost 60 missiles from two warships on Thursday evening against a government-controlled air base in central Syria. A spokesperson for National Defence in Ottawa said early today that Canadian Forces personnel were not involved in the missile strike. (CTV)

Canadians oppose policies that would align Canada with those of Donald Trump: poll

A large majority of Canadians, 77 per cent, have negative opinions of the U.S. president. On issues that “affect Canada and the global community,” only 15 per cent of Canadians think he’s doing a good or excellent job. A full two-thirds characterized Trump as “a perpetual liar” and 75 per cent report being “pessimistic and worried” about his four-year term. (National Post)

Lawyer for Toronto man accused of travelling to join ISIS calls time lag on charges 'suspect'

The lawyer for a Toronto man accused of leaving Canada to join ISIS says Pamir Hakimzadah was being investigated for terrorism as far back as 2016, calling it "suspect" that authorities waited until now to charge him. "We're in a culture where anyone could be charged with terrorism. It is a serious count," his lawyer Rishma Gupta told reporters after he appeared in court Thursday. (CBC)

Vice-Admiral Norman’s e-mail spoke of ‘blatant politics’ of supply-ship contract

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, now fighting for his reputation and career in the face of an RCMP investigation, voiced his frustration at what he considered an attempt by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. to scuttle a 2015 contract Ottawa had awarded to competitor Chantier-Davie Canada Inc. of Quebec, e-mails obtained by The Globe show. A 2015 tussle between shipbuilding rivals over a contract that was awarded without competition to Chantier-Davie figures prominently in a 16-month investigation by the Mounties that led to the suspension of Vice-Adm. Norman from his job as Canada’s second-most-senior military commander. (Globe and Mail)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

U.S. anti-Immigration policies a silver lining for Canada: Kevin O’Leary

Kevin O’Leary says Canada’s “inclusive society” is an advantage for the country, one it could capitalize on as the U.S. increasingly restricts travel and immigration policies. In a Conservative leadership race that has been mired in identity politics and questions of Canadian values, he said increasing anti-immigration sentiment in the United States could work to Canada’s advantage. “The fact that it’s getting more unstable in the U.S. on immigration and travel policy is a huge advantage for Canada,” O’Leary told the Star on Thursday. (Toronto Star)

Canada’s top spy agencies work out deal on ‘threat disruption’ operations

Canada’s two most powerful intelligence agencies have crafted a formal deal to cooperate on using controversial powers to disrupt domestic threats to the country's security, the Star has learned. Documents obtained by the Star show the spy agency Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the electronic signals-gathering agency Communications Security Establishment (CSE) signed an agreement in July 2016 on how CSE will assist with “threat reduction” activities. (Toronto Star)

Terror suspect motivated by attacks in Canada?

The timing is chilling — the Toronto man accused of leaving Canada to join ISIS is alleged to have travelled on a very ominous day. Pamir Hakimzadah, 27, has been charged by the RCMP with leaving the country on or about Oct. 22, 2014 to join a terrorist group. That would be the very day that Parliament Hill was attacked and Corp. Nathan Cirillo was murdered by a man who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and just two days after another follower ran down Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. (Toronto Sun)

Being a Canadian turns out to be a curse for some travellers

Christelle Roques found out the hard way that being a Canadian citizen can actually make it harder to enter the country. The 29-year-old native of France was set to spend an hour at the airport in Montreal on Tuesday on her way to New York for a week-long trip. However, she got stuck in an administrative morass at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, missed her flight and lost a full day in New York. (Globe and Mail)

Canada has a plan to stop qualified immigrant doctors from driving taxis

The Trudeau government is touting a new solution for immigrants that arrive in Canada but wind up without a job in their field of expertise. If it works it would solve a problem that affects nearly one million immigrants. In fact, according to a report released in January 2016, nearly 850,000 Canadians — over 60 per cent of whom are immigrants — end up underemployed or unemployed because their credentials aren't recognized in Canada. (National Observer)

Asylum seeker reunites with RCMP officer he says saved his life

A month after a near-fatal trek through the forest into Canada, an asylum seeker was reunited today with the man he says saved his life: RCMP Const. Bernard Vandal. Vandal found the 45-year-old man on the side of the road in Quebec near the Canada-U.S. border on March 5, after he had walked for hours when the temperature reached –15 C. (CBC)

Netanyahu 'fully supports' Trump: World reaction to U.S. using cruise missiles

Here is a look at reaction around the world to the U.S. missile attack against a Syrian airbase on Thursday. (CBC)

Trump National Security Team All Agreed on Syria Strike

On Wednesday afternoon, the National Security Council convened in the White House, with President Donald Trump in the chair, to discuss how the United States would respond to Bashar al-Assad. Just a couple of hours earlier, in a press conference in the Rose Garden, Trump had denounced in strong terms the Tuesday chemical-weapons attack by Assad on the Syrian strongman's own people. "I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly," the president said. (Weekly Standard)

US cyber attacks may be bringing North Korean missiles down

Experts are suggesting the in-flight failure and crash of the missile launched by North Korea on Wednesday could have been the result of a "left-of-launch" attack by the United States. Wednesday's missile has been identified as a liquid fuel, extended-range Scud and was launched shortly after dawn from near the city of Sinpo, on the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. US Pacific Command estimates that the weapon flew for a maximum of nine minutes and travelled less than 40 miles before spinning out of control into the Sea of Japan. (

North Korea vows ‘most ruthless blow’ on United States after Donald Trump pledges to build up defences against Pyongyang

NORTH Korea is ready to deliver the “most ruthless blow” if provoked by the United States, its ambassador to Moscow said overnight, after US President Donald Trump pledged to keep building up defences against Pyongyang. “Our army has already said that if there will be even the smallest provocation from the United States during exercises, we are ready to deliver the most ruthless blow,” Interfax news agency quoted ambassador Kim Hyong-Jun as saying. (



Joseph Ingram: Canada's future belongs to immigration. Deal with it.

Last week in this space, columnist Michael Harris described the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race as a “slow-motion train wreck”. He’s got a point: This is a contest in which the candidates seem bent on destroying one another through Trump-esque personal attacks, interspersed with dubious policy ideas based largely on ill-informed views and alt-right resentment of non-white, non-Christian immigrants. At this point, there’s little evidence that anyone in this race is developing a coherent policy direction that would allow Canada to remain on a track that addresses the broader realities of 21st century global development. (IPolitics)

Noah Richler: Canadians must recognize the dark side of their history

It is consistent to love one’s country but also to find shame in its history. Moreover, the reconciling of pride and shame is a matter of necessity. If, at its best, our history has led to “the fair country” and a consideration of the other that has vaulted forward Canadians’ excellence in the field of human rights, so does it have a dark side. For alongside a history of negotiation and compromise that arose because the territory we call “Canada” was always too large and obdurate to conventionally conquer and manage, are acts of erasure and abuse inextricable from this country’s foundation. (Globe and Mail)

Phil Gurski: There are many outstanding questions after Toronto man charged with leaving Canada to join terrorist group

This is a big deal. It represents, to my knowledge, the first time someone who is accused of being a returning foreign fighter has been charged under the provisions of section 83.01 of the Canadian Criminal Code; the section that deals with terrorism. Others have been charged before they attempted to leave the country, some (such as Farah Shirdon of Calgary) have been charged in absentia, and still others have been charged with passport fraud, but no one who made it back to Canadian soil has been charged under terrorism allegations. (Hill Times)

Robyn Urback: You're a feminist, Mr. Trudeau. We get it

I can't tell you how pleased I was to see a section of this year's budget written just for me, through a gender-sensitive lens, meaning I could skip right to Chapter 5 and avoid the sections that didn't massage my fixation with my own woman-ness. Lord knows how difficult it is to get the ladies interested in fiscal matters that aren't expressly connected to gender (it's like trying to get a first-grader to read; it helps if you make the story about them), and with Budget 2017, the Liberals finally recognized that phenomenon and offered a remedy. It's a good thing, too: I accidentally landed on a page about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU and found myself overcome by crippling dizziness! (CBC)

John Ivison: NAFTA makeover will succeed after ‘serious and demanding’ negotiations, Mulroney says

The renegotiation of the North America Free Trade Agreement is being characterized by the government as analogous to the renovation of an old house. Who better then to ask about the renovations than the man who built the house in the first place, even if he is of a different political stripe? Former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney was back on Parliament Hill Thursday, a quarter of a century after leaving politics, briefing the Liberal cabinet committee on Canada-U.S. relations, ahead of the renegotiation demanded by the Trump administration. (National Post)

Evan Solomon: Syria is gassing children to death. What should Canada do?

The perversity is, the usual headlines, as disturbing as they might be, are almost a welcome distraction. There is the priapic pastor, Sen. Don Meredith, accused of having sex with a teenager he mentored, clinging to his Red Chamber appointment with more devotion than he has to his own dignity. Another senator, Lynn Beyak, has disgracefully transmogrified the legalized abuse of Aboriginal children that was the residential school system into some kind of white-washing of the good work done by a few teachers. There are protests over the inexcusable bonuses the family-controlled board of Bombardier awarded themselves after extracting billions from taxpayers while laying off thousands of workers. And next week we’ll all be lost in the haze of the new pot legislation. (Macleans)



-       The Standing Committee on National Defence met yesterday to study Canada and the Defence of North America  (In Camera)

-       The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met yesterday to continue study on the Situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia 25 Years after the End of the Cold War (Partly Public/In Camera)