True North Initiative: News Scan 05 08 17


Canada on track for all-time high in asylum claims

A document tabled by the Trudeau government this week reveals that Canada is headed towards an all-time high in asylum claims in 2017. The new data shows that, between January 1 and March 31, 2017, there were a total of 8,960 asylum claims filed through either the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). (Toronto Sun)

Conservatives want Trudeau to go to Manitoba border to see crossings first hand

Tensions flared in a Manitoba border community as two Conservative members of Parliament called on the prime minister to visit Emerson and get a first-hand look at the influx of refugee claimants coming in from the United States through fields and ditches. Local MP Ted Falk and immigration critic Michelle Rempel reiterated an accusation Friday that the Trudeau government is being soft on migrants and the potential safety threat the pose. (National Post) (Huffington Post) (CTV) (CBC)

I'm not a threat: asylum seeker

His case sparked an uproar after he damaged a cell at the Emerson port of entry, uttered threats and allegedly assaulted an officer. The case prompted the national union for border guards to declare half of all asylum seekers crossing into Canada to be serious criminals and the Canada Border Services Agency to refute that, saying about two per cent pose a threat and are held in detention. After spending more than two weeks in the Winnipeg Remand Centre, Ahmed Aden Ali, 37, is out on bail and desperate to stay in Canada. (Winnipeg Free Press)

Canadians still pro-immigration, but souring on United States: survey

Canadians’ sentiment towards immigration hasn’t wavered in the past six months, with eight in 10 people still agreeing that immigrants benefit the economy, a national survey released exclusively to The Globe and Mail shows. “Public opinion about immigration among Canadians generally has either remained stable or become even more positive” in the past half year, said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute for Survey Research, which released the results publicly on Monday. (Globe and Mail)

Mental health system failed Quebec man who became infatuated with ISIS and killed a soldier: coroner

Martin Couture-Rouleau appeared to be having a breakdown in 2013. He was depressed, hardly slept and seldom left his father’s basement south of Montreal. He also converted to Islam and became infatuated with ISIL. His father tried to get help but neither the mental health system nor police were able to intervene, and on Oct. 20, 2014, the 25-year-old ploughed a car into a group of soldiers, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. (National Post) (Toronto Star)

Remedial ISIS Tutorial Steers Jihadists Toward Heavier, Deadlier Truck Attacks

The Islamic State just published a remedial step-by-step pictorial for lone jihadists on how to use a heavy vehicle to kill, walking would-be terrorists through how to acquire a vehicle and which targets to strike. ISIS' monthly Rumiyah magazine, which publishes online in 10 languages including English, last covered vehicle attacks in their November issue "Just Terror Tactics" segment, using Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who plowed a cargo truck through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France, last summer, as their key example. (PJ Media)

Canadian Taxpayers Foot The Bill For Ivanka Trump’s Broadway Night Out

Canadian taxpayers foot the almost $30,000 (CAD) bill for first daughter Ivanka Trump and a bevy of diplomats, business executives and media representatives to see a Broadway play about Canada and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, CTV News reports. Global Affairs Canada snapped up 600 seats — “at a significant discount” — in order for Trump and a others on New York City’s prominent list to view the celebrated (and now Tony-nominated) theatrical production of “Come From Away,” which the federal government considers “an important part of advancing and protecting Canadian interests.” (Daily Caller) (CTV)

Conservatives plot political attack on Sajjan with symbolic confidence motion

Harjit Sajjan will find himself back in the spotlight and on the hot seat today as the Conservatives use their so-called opposition day to renew their attacks against the defence minister's credibility. Conservative defence critic James Bezan says he will table a non-binding motion in the House of Commons expressing a loss of confidence in Sajjan, and which MPs will have a chance to vote on. That vote will be entirely symbolic, and has little chance of passing given the Liberals hold a majority of seats in the House, but it could still make for another long day for the embattled defence minister. (CTV)

Canada's bid for UN Security Council seat could mean costly campaign

Canada is on track to spend millions over the next three years in its bid to win a rotating two-year seat on the United Nations' Security Council — even as some inside and outside the UN say the election process needs an overhaul. According to the government's own estimates, Canada has already spent almost $500,000 on its campaign, which pits Ottawa against Ireland and Norway for the two available spots, opening in 2021. (CBC)

'Significant' military spending coming, Garneau says

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canadians can expect "significant expenditures" to come out of the government's defence policy review. The long-awaited policy review, which was expected last December, will be unveiled before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to the NATO summit in Brussels at the end of the month, Garneau said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period. "If we are to properly equip our men and women, of whom we ask a great deal, then we're going to have to make significant expenditures," he said. (CTV)

Legal pot could slow border crossings, former U.S. diplomat warns

The former U.S. ambassador to Canada warns the new marijuana law could effectively thicken the border as sniffer dogs trigger searches for marijuana that’s illegal in the United States, but legal in Canada. Bruce Heyman, who served as U.S. ambassador in Ottawa under former president Barack Obama, says he looked into how legal marijuana could impact the border. (CTV)

Trudeau Liberals have only passed 17 government bills since coming into power

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have only passed 17 government bills since coming into office — a weak legislative showing compared to previous majority governments, including Stephen Harper’s. Still, says Government House Leader Bardish Chagger, the Liberals have “an ambitious legislative agenda.” Chagger’s emailed statement on her legislative ambitions focused on current debates around Senate amendments to a labour bill, debate around a budget implementation bill and future talks on marijuana legalization. “We will have more to say about specific bills in the weeks ahead,” she said on Friday. (Calgary Herald)

Justin Trudeau takes a lot of questions, but doesn't always answer

"The prime minister takes all the questions he wants," Tom Mulcair said Wednesday as Justin Trudeau made his third go at taking every query during question period, "but he does not answer any of them." The NDP leader was aggrieved at Trudeau's response to a question from NDP MP Matthew Dubé. Dubé had asked why a future prime minister wouldn't use the formal creation of a weekly prime minister's question period as an excuse to only appear at question period once each week. Trudeau's response hadn't quite answered that question. (CBC)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

No decision on China trade negotiations until fall 'at least': McCallum

The Canadian and Chinese governments won’t decide on whether to formally launch free trade negotiations until at least the fall, according to Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum. In an interview with Vassy Kapelos on Global’s The West Block, which aired Sunday, the former immigration minister said a number of steps will precede the decision — including a second set of exploratory trade talks in July. (IPolitics)

Refugee claimants coming to Canada through the United States not new

One spring morning, Alfredo Rivas and his wife, who was seven months pregnant, grabbed the small bags containing their remaining belongings and headed north to Canada, a place they’d never seen. A week earlier, they’d decided to leave New York City amid worries the U.S. president’s promise to crack down on illegal immigration would put them at risk of being deported back to wartorn El Salvador. It’s a story that has recently become familiar to Canadians as the country has seen a rise in the number of refugee claimants crossing its southern borders — a phenomenon some have linked with rising anti-immigrant rhetoric and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. (Life in Quebec)

'It's not safe for people of colour': Manitoban living in U.S. plans to return to Winnipeg

A Manitoba-born woman and her husband are leaving their home in the United States and moving back to Winnipeg because of the racism they say they've encountered, and because they no longer feel safe living there. On the phone from North Carolina, Robin Attas recalled one of the incidents that's prompted the move involving her husband, Nicolás Narváez Soza. (CBC)

It’s crunch time for the Conservative leadership race: Here’s everything you need to know

Less than a month from now, Canadian Conservatives will pick their federal leader to take them to battle with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2019. But voting can happen anytime now that ballots have been mailed out. (National Post)

O’Leary exit boosts Bernier, but race still ‘wide open’ as campaigns reach out for down-ballot support

Kevin O’Leary’s exit from the Conservative leadership race has altered its dynamics in favour of Maxime Bernier, but MPs supporting other leadership candidates say the race is still “wide open,” and campaign teams are reaching out to rivals in hopes of securing second-, third-, and subsequent-ballot support. (Hill Times)

Mandatory minimum changes one part of planned overhaul of justice system

The Liberal government is set to begin tackling mandatory minimum sentences this spring, but advocates for reform have been waiting a long time for the promise to play out. “It’s something the government promised long ago and its delivery is overdue,” said Eric Gottardi, a Vancouver defence lawyer and past chair of the criminal justice section at the Canadian Bar Association. “We are all kind of looking forward to it with bated breath.” (City News)

Quebec calls in army as Central, Eastern Canada fight flooding

Unrelenting rain is pushing water levels across much of Central and Eastern Canada ever higher, though major cities in the affected regions appear to have missed the worst of the storm. More than 130 communities in the province have been hit by flooding, with some 700 people forced to abandon their homes, but rainfall advisories have been lifted for Montreal and Toronto early Saturday. (Globe and Mail)

A NAFTA renegotiation may have some unexpected consequences on US immigration and border security

President Donald J. Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) our “worst trade deal.” After flip-flopping between scrapping NAFTA altogether and saying that the agreement required only tweaks, President Trump is trying to force a renegotiation of a deal that supports three million American jobs. (Business Insider)

China beckons Canada and Mexico in face of U.S. uncertainty: Mexican minister

The uncertainty caused by the Trump administration means Mexico and Canada need to look towards new non-American markets, including China, to grow their economies, says a visiting Mexican cabinet minister. Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, Mexico's minister of tourism, echoed the view of Canada's central bank governor Stephen Poloz, which he delivered in a speech in Mexico City. De la Madrid Cordero was in Ottawa for meetings with the federal Liberals this past week as the countries continue to grapple with the possibility of reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement later this year with U.S. protectionists who have lashed out publicly at both continental partners. (CTV)

In Quebec, one who turned away from extremism helps others find the path

They kept the worshipers’ boots long after their bodies were carried away and their bloodstains were cleaned from the mosque’s carpeted floor. Resting on a shelf inside the Islamic Cultural Center, the six pairs form a humble monument to the victims gunned down by a troubled loner one evening last January after sunset prayer. Not long ago, Maxime Fiset could have been the killer. A Quebec native who grew up nearby, Fiset founded a right-wing extremist group as a teenager and later drew up plans to carry out his own suicide attack. (Star Tribune)

Roma say they’re being barred from flights to Canada

Ottawa is being accused of preventing Roma travellers from boarding Canada-bound flights and denying them the possibility of seeking asylum here. Since the end of last year, advocates and lawyers say a slew of Roma passengers from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — all currently visa-exempted countries — have reported being stopped from boarding flights to Canada via transit points in England, Poland, Belgium and Germany. (Toronto Star)

South Sudan civil war has turned 1 million kids into refugees

More than 1 million children have fled South Sudan's civil war, two United Nations agencies said Monday, part of the world's fastest growing refugee crisis. Another 1 million South Sudanese children are displaced within the country, having fled their homes due to the civil war, said the UN's child and refugee agencies in a statement Monday. "The future of a generation is truly on the brink," said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF's Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. "The horrifying fact that nearly one in five children in South Sudan has been forced to flee their home illustrates how devastating this conflict has been for the country's most vulnerable." (CTV)

Afghanistan ISIS head killed in raid - US and Afghan officials

The head of so-called Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan, Abdul Hasib, has been killed in a military raid, US and Afghan officials have said. He died 10 days ago in an joint special forces operation in eastern Nangarhar province, the US military said. Hasib is believed to have been behind March's attack on a military hospital in Kabul, killing at least 50 people. (BBC)

Netanyahu tosses Hamas policy paper on Israel into waste bin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday symbolically tossed into a bin a Hamas policy paper published last week that set out an apparent softening of the Palestinian Islamist group's stance toward Israel. In a document issued last Monday, Hamas said it was dropping its longstanding call for Israel's destruction, but said it still rejected the Jewish state's right to exist and continued to back "armed struggle" against it. (Yahoo)

Venezuela Protests and Economic Crisis: What Is Going On?

Venezuela is in the grip of a major crisis. For the last month, hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrating against the government of President Nicolas Maduro have been met by riot police almost daily. (NBC)

Venezuela opposition won’t join bid to rewrite constitution

Venezuela’s opposition parties have refused to participate in a process called by President Nicolas Maduro to write a new constitution, instead planning more rallies to protest the plan. The center-right Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) formally announced on Sunday that it would not be joining a “people’s” assembly, which is to convene at the presidential palace on Monday to write a new constitution. (Press TV)

French election: Turnout sharply down in Le Pen-Macron battle

Turnout in the French presidential election is so far sharply down on the past two polls as voters choose between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. A turnout of 65.3% was recorded at 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT) in an unpredictable campaign that has divided the country. (BBC)



Candice Malcolm: Trudeau citizenship law is win for Toronto 18 terrorist and loss for Canada

The Trudeau government is one step closer to granting citizenship to a convicted terrorist. Earlier this week, Liberals in the Senate voted to support the Trudeau government’s controversial Bill C-6. The bill substantially waters down the value of Canadian citizenship. (Toronto Sun)

Toronto Sun: Immigration issues remain a concern

Every week there’s either an on the ground report or release of government data that reminds us we’ve got a problem at our border. The latest news is that Canada is heading towards a record high number of asylum claims for this year. As Candice Malcolm reports in the Sun: “between January 1 and March 31, 2017, there were a total of 8,960 asylum claims filed through either the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).” (Toronto Sun)

National Post View: Sajjan could have been exactly the defence minister Canada needed, and now he’s ruined that

This week, as National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan continued to face strong criticism of his now-acknowledged embellishment of his role in Canada’s 2006 Afghan War offensive, Operation Medusa, the public had another opportunity to see Sajjan in action. It was unfortunate that what could have been Sajjan-the-politician’s finest hour instead became a footnote to the self-inflicted scandal. (National Post)

Brian Lilley: Trudeau lied about helping “most vulnerable” refugees? Say it ain’t so.

We’ve caught Trudeau and his Liberals lying again, this time about the claim made during the refugee rush that they were trying to help the most vulnerable, yet weren’t giving priority to religious and ethnic minorities.  In addition to many direct questions to then Immigration Minister John McCallum, I also pressed him as to why LGBT refugees were given a priority but persecuted religious groups were not. (Rebel)

Mark Bonokoski: Who will face Justin Trudeau in 2019?

It is the summer of 2019, and the federal election is in full swing. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not had a very good year. People are growing tired of his speech patterns, and his humming and hawing that comes with his non-answers during the one day a week in which he allows himself to grace Question Period. (

John Ivison: The problem with Trudeau’s diverse cabinet: Rookie ministers make rookie mistakes

Having your cabinet look more like Canada is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a very good thing, if the members of that cabinet are able and experienced. The problem for Justin Trudeau is that his government is increasingly open to the charge that it is governing by optics – that it has put people in place because they tick boxes, rather than because they have the ability and experience to run complicated government departments. (National Post)

Helen Clark: Australia Is Scrapping A Key Component Of The Merit-Based Immigration System Trump Wanted To Borrow From

After a “testy” phone call on refugee resettlement got these two world leaders off to a rocky start four months ago, all eyes were on the face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Thursday. But while analysts and journalists alike rushed to speculate about the extent to which the relationship had been improved, very little attention was being paid to something else developing between the two nations in recent months: the irony in their channelling of one another’s immigration values. (Huffington Post)



-       Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs meet tomorrow for committee business (8:45AM EST) (Public)

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

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