True North Initiative: News Scan 04 10 17


ISIS claims responsibility for Palm Sunday church bombings in Egypt

Egypt's President says he will declare a state of emergency after two deadly bombings targeted Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were aimed at a vulnerable religious minority on one of the most important days on the Christian calendar. The death toll rose to at least 49 Monday, state media reported. At least 27 people died in a blast inside a church in the northern city of Tanta, and 78 people were injured, according to Egypt's state-run news agency Al-Ahram. In Alexandria, 18 civilians and four police officers were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Coptic church, Al-Ahram said. (CNN)

Egypt declares state of emergency after deadly church attacks

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has announced a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches that left at least 44 dead. The measure allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people's homes. It needs to be approved by parliament before it is implemented. (BBC)

Swedish police arrest man in Stockholm truck attack, manhunt launched

A hijacked beer truck plowed into pedestrians at a central Stockholm department store on Friday, killing four people, wounding 15 others and sending screaming shoppers fleeing in panic in what Sweden's prime minister called a terrorist attack. A nationwide manhunt was launched and one person was arrested following the latest use of a vehicle as a weapon in Europe. Nearby buildings were locked down for hours in the heart of the capital — including the country's parliament — and the main train station and several large malls were evacuated. (CBC) (Toronto Sun)

Stockholm attack suspect may have been interested in immigrating to Canada

The 39-year-old Uzbek man arrested for killing four people by driving a truck into a crowded Stockholm may have been interested in immigrating to either the United States or Canada. Rakhmat Akilov, who was previously denied permanent residency in Sweden, was reportedly following a Facebook group that offered information on how to emigrate to the U.S. and Canada. He also followed pages calling for the ouster of former Uzbek President Islam Karimov. (Global News)

Norway raises terror threat levels after Oslo bomb find

Norway's intelligence services have raised the national terror threat level, after a homemade bomb was found in the centre of the capital Oslo. The risk of an attack was now "probable" rather than "possible", the security services said. On Saturday, police cordoned off a large part of Gronland in central Oslo, and carried out a controlled detonation on an explosive device. (BBC)

Canadian aid workers brace for influx of Syrian refugees after U.S. air strikes

Canadian aid workers in the Middle East are preparing for an influx of asylum-seekers into already crowded camps, fearing U.S. military action in Syria could drive more people out of the war-torn country. The policy director at World Vision Canada said Saturday that his agency is planning for “a new wave” of people fleeing Syria, out of concern that Thursday’s American military intervention could escalate. (Global News) (Huffington Post) (Toronto Star)

Food crisis, violence prompt spike in Venezuelan asylum seekers in Canada

With the economy tanking with falling oil prices, Venezuelans with money and professional skills slowly began their mass exodus from the oil rich South American country in the late 2000s. When inflation skyrocketed — to 800 per cent last year — amid rampant kidnappings and violence against government opponents, many of the not-so-wealthy decided they had to find a way out of the turmoil, some by sending their children to study abroad. Now, when people can’t even put food on the table or get medicine and treatment from hospitals, even the poorest are fleeing Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro has been blamed for many of the problems. (Toronto Star)

Spring flooding in Manitoba changing route of asylum seekers

Spring flooding is complicating the crossing for some asylum seekers walking over the international border into Manitoba and forcing some to sneak over by a different route. All winter, would-be refugee claimants have been walking across snowy, wind-swept farmer's fields, but in the last week, warm weather has brought spring flooding to the nearby Red River and its tributaries. (CBC)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Ottawa is rethinking its approach to immigration detention

The federal government is “exploring potential policy changes” to reduce the length of immigration detention and get non-violent migrants out of maximum-security jails, according to a new report. The Canada Border Services Agency’s “New National Immigration Detention Framework,” released late Friday, is not a concrete plan as much as it is a general set of intentions. But, if implemented, it would signal a substantial shift in how Canada treats its unwanted immigrants. (Toronto Star)

National Research Council bought $8m in new laptops after hack

A federal research agency bought $8 million worth of new laptops after a crippling cyber attack targeted its secrets in 2014, the Star has learned. Documents released to the Star show the National Research Council had to replace a number of “end-point devices”—internet-connected devices like laptops and printers – after foreign hackers targeted its networks in 2014. According to the agency, they replaced 4,000 laptops at a cost of $2,000 each and over 180 new printers, which the NRC estimated cost $1,800 a year to operate. (Toronto Star)

Syrian-Canadians hail Trump’s missile strike, hope for turning point in conflict

A major Syrian-Canadian community group expressed surprise and relief Friday over airstrikes carried out by the U.S. in Syria, saying the move sparked hope that a turning point may have been reached in the country’s conflict. Faisal Alazem, a spokesman for the Syrian Canadian Council, said Thursday’s missile strike was long overdue in light of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Syrian regime. He said it’s “comforting” to see punitive measures taken against Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s government because only then will there be incentive to change. (Global News)

Syrian refugees have mixed responses to Trump’s missile strike

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to order a military strike against a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on civilians prompted a mixed response from Syrian-Canadians, with some in favour of the strike, others opposed, and uncertainly all around on what comes next. The irony of Mr. Trump – who had listed Syria among the Muslim-majority nations whose citizens would be barred from entering the United States – coming to the aid of Syrians was not lost on those who spoke with The Globe and Mail. In his statement on the strike, Mr. Trump said the refugee crisis continues to deepen and he called on all “civilized nations” to help end the bloodshed. (Globe and Mail) (Metro) (CBC)

‘Border rights for refugees’ to Canada flyer issued in 17 languages

As the influx of asylum-seekers from the U.S. under President Donald Trump continues into Canada, migrant advocates in Metro Vancouver have helped create a resource that’s already in high demand south of the border. The two-page “Border rights for refugees” pamphlet has already been distributed to more than 360 organizations across the U.S. and has been snapped up by would-be border-crossers in contact with its creators and those hoping to seek asylum after successfully arriving here. (Metro)

Trump's immigration policies are opening a door to the Silicon Valley of the North

It's a startup founder's dream: a community of 2,500 early-stage tech companies, a government investing in high-tech innovation and expediting work permits, and venture-capital investment levels not seen since the heyday of the dot-com bubble. This isn't San Francisco, New York, or London — it's Toronto. And its bid to become the Silicon Valley of the North is now getting a boost from the Trump administration. (Business Insider)

Liberal official grilled on sex-selective abortion, won’t admit it’s ‘gender-based violence’

An Alberta Tory MP had Canada’s Status of Women’s minister on the ropes recently over the Trudeau government’s silence on sex-selective abortion. The exchange took place two weeks ago when Women’s Minister Maryam Monsef appeared before the Status of Women Committee to brag about the government’s campaign against “gender-based violence.” Lethbridge MP Rachael Harder wanted her to answer “a simple question, yes or no.” Do sex-selective abortions, which overwhelmingly target unborn females, qualify as “gender-based violence?” (Life Site News)

RCMP yellow stripe protest over pay discrepancies spreads among officers

Sgt. Chris Backus knows that speaking out about receiving fair compensation as a Mountie could cost him his job, but he's willing to take that risk. "I have been verbally reprimanded by the RCMP, I've been told not to speak out any further," he said a day after telling the CBC about how he and members at Sunshine Coast RCMP are covering up the yellow stripe on their uniforms. (CBC)

Stockholm attack suspect is Uzbek denied residency in Sweden

The arrested man suspected by police of killing four people by ramming a truck into crowds in Stockholm is a 39-year-old from Uzbekistan who had been denied permanent residency in Sweden and who had expressed sympathy for Islamic State. Two sources who had worked with the suspect, Rakhmat Akilov, independently identified him to Reuters from images distributed by police as the manhunt got underway on Friday. Two police spokespersons declined to confirm his identity as did the suspect's court-appointed lawyer. (Yahoo)

Pope decries war, terrorism and weapons as he condemns Egypt blast

Pope Francis condemned a deadly blast at a church in Egypt and said at a Palm Sunday Mass that the world was suffering from wars, terrorism and "interests that are armed and ready to strike". Francis, who has not made any direct public comment on the current Middle East crisis, said the Mass as international tensions increased following the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base, which the Pentagon says was involved in a chemical weapons attack that killed 87 people. (Reuters)

Trump's Syria strike celebrated by 'terrorists', Iran says

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has said "terrorists are celebrating" US strikes on a Syrian airbase. His comments echo the response from Russia, which like Iran is allied to Syria, and from Syria itself. At least six people are reported to have been killed in the missile strikes in the early hours of Friday. (BBC)

North Korea missiles: US warships deployed to Korean peninsula

The US military has ordered a navy strike group to move towards the Korean peninsula, amid growing concerns about North Korea's missile programme. The Carl Vinson Strike Group comprises an aircraft carrier and other warships. US Pacific Command described the deployment - now heading towards the western Pacific - as a prudent measure to maintain readiness in the region. (BBC)

Expert: Watch to see if Kim Jong-Un goes into hiding after Syria strike

The U.S. bombardment of a Syrian airbase just outside of Homs Friday was likely seen by North Korea as a clear warning that President Trump will use his military if United States interests are at risk. The immediate focus after the strikes was on Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s reaction. Russia was not happy with the U.S., it spoke in defense of Syria and moved warships. But now the attention is on the next move by another world leader: Kim Jong-Un. (FOX News)

Trump’s Options for North Korea Include Placing Nukes in South Korea

The National Security Council has presented President Donald Trump with options to respond to North Korea's nuclear program — including putting American nukes in South Korea or killing dictator Kim Jong-un, multiple top-ranking intelligence and military officials told NBC News. Both scenarios are part of an accelerated review of North Korea policy prepared in advance of Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week. (NBC)

Beijing offers hefty cash reward for spy tip-offs

The Beijing government is offering hefty cash rewards for information on foreign spies, state media report. Residents of the Chinese capital can earn up to 500,000 yuan (£58,000; $72,000) by submitting tip-offs. City officials said the public should help "to slowly construct an iron Great Wall in combating evil and guarding against spies". (BBC)

Syria: US warns Assad over using chemical weapons again

The US says it has put Bashar al-Assad on notice that it will take further military action if he uses chemical weapons again, while appearing to back away from wider military involvement in the Syrian conflict, less than 24 hours after launching Tomahawk missiles at a regime airbase. “The United States will no longer wait for Assad to use chemical weapons without any consequences. Those days are over,” the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told a special session of the UN security council.(The Guardian)

U.S. Strike in Syria Raises Tensions With Iran

The U.S. airstrikes on Syria stoked new tensions with Iran and generated calls in Tehran for increased military support for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Iranian officials said on Friday the U.S. attack violated international law and accused President Donald Trump of siding with Islamic State and al Qaeda in Syria. “Not even two decades after 9/11, [the] U.S. military is fighting on same side as al-Qaeda & ISIS in Yemen & Syria,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted on Friday. “Time to stop hype and coverups.” (Wall Street Journal)



Candice Malcolm: Trump makes the world safer in reasserting power in Syria

America is back. With all his flaws, Trump is reasserting American strength and power on the world stage – and the world will be safer and more secure because of it.  In response to another atrocity in Syria this week – an apparent sarin gas attack on civilians in Khan Shaykhun, constituting a blatant war crime – Trump wasted no time in unleashing a furious response. (Toronto Sun)

Nigel Hannaford: While Trump corrects course, Trudeau stays with green-globalism

In Donald Trump’s world of America First, Canada has many ways to lose. But, there are ways to win. First, do nothing stupid. Second, have options. Third, the Trump card is jobs in America. Regarding stupidity, Prime Minister Trudeau has so far bottled and stoppered any lingering anti-Americanism remaining from Paul Martin’s government. He also abstained from general condemnation of Trump’s temporary stays on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries with known terror links. (Toronto Sun)

Lorrie Goldstein: Conservatives wrong to appease Liberals

Some day, Canada’s Conservatives are going to learn they will not return to power by appeasing Liberals. But not today. Interim (actually, very interim) Conservative leader Rona Ambrose demonstrated this last week when she removed Tory Senator Lynn Beyak from the Senate’s aboriginal peoples committee. This because Beyak said residential schools did “some good things” and while “well-intentioned” made “horrible mistakes”. (Toronto Sun)

David Herle: Canadian executives offer a mixed bag of perspectives on U.S. President’s performance

In keeping with civil society’s obsession with the machinations of the Trump administration in the United States, this quarter’s C-Suite survey took a deep dive into his early days in office. We found a business community that is a mixed bag of reactions. Mr. Trump is unpopular among Canadian business leaders, as he is among most Canadians. His foreign policy and immigration policy are thought by business to be wrong-headed and negative for the United States. He’s much less favourably viewed than Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. That finding is remarkable, given how positively the business community has received key elements of the President’s agenda. (Globe and Mail)

Michael Harris: Canada's Prime Sycophant

Justin Trudeau has let the side down — again. The politician who promised a bright, new day in Canadian politics, has already disappointed First Nations, environmentalists, veterans, electoral reformers, and those expecting swift action on repealing the odious police-state legislation from the Harper era, Bill C-51. Some have called Trudeau’s underwhelming performance a question of “over-promising.” It looks more like bad faith. (IPolitics)

John Ibbitson: To truly reinvent itself, the Senate must first prove its value

Later this month, Peter Harder will celebrate his first anniversary as Representative of the Government in the Senate, Justin Trudeau’s point person in the Red Chamber. Is he having fun? “That’s an emotion that’s eluding me,” he confesses. Canada’s Senate is struggling to reinvent itself, to shed its reputation as a refuge for party hacks, to become instead a truly non-partisan body of sober second thought. Then along comes Don Meredith. (Globe and Mail)



-       The Standing Committee on National Defence meet tomorrow to study Canada and the Defence of North America (3:30PM EST) (In Camera)

-       The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration meet later today to meet with Immigration Consultants (3:30PM EST) (Public)