True North Initiative: News Scan 05 22 17


Prime Minister remains firm on immigration facility move

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rolled into Edmonton Saturday morning, looking to promote the Canada Child Benefit tax. Instead, he was greeted by protesters, upset with the government’s decision to move an immigration facility from Vegreville to Edmonton. Dozens of people came out, some carrying signs saying “Respect Vegreville”, others chanting “Our family matters”. They were hoping to get inside the Telus World of Science, where Trudeau was holding his media avail. (CTV)

Vegreville residents urge Justin Trudeau to keep immigration centre open

Schools, restaurants and other small businesses would start to disappear if the federal government moves an immigration centre from Vegreville to Edmonton, supporters of the case processing centre say. David Sen, a resident of the town some 100 kilometres east of Edmonton, joined about 20 protesters outside the Telus World of Science Saturday looking to catch Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's attention. (CBC)

Agency that oversees immigration consultants appears to be in turmoil

The council that oversees thousands of immigration consultants in Canada is in the midst of what many describe as a crisis, beset by resignations, infighting and harsh criticism from lawmakers and lawyers. The chief concern about the apparent crisis confronting the ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council) is that those who will suffer most are the immigrants and refugees who often use consultants in their efforts to live in Canada. (CBC)

The other border: Immigrants eye Canada as US deportation fears grow

Pass through the pews of Our Lady of Guadalupe church and you'll get a glimpse of this country's newest immigrants. A man from Mexico arrived here as a tourist, but hopes to study French and find a way to stay. A family from El Salvador came here from the United States, where they feared officials would deport them. A Venezuelan family fleeing the rising turmoil in their country says they're seeking refuge. (CNN)

How the powers of CSIS could change under possible new legislation

Reining in the powers of Canada’s spies was a lynchpin Liberal promise on the 2015 campaign trail, but it has lingered since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party took office. Yet the government last week announced what cues it is taking from a recently concluded public consultation into security and intelligence issues, and Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale has indicated he may soon announce new legislation. Here’s a look at what may be coming. (Globe and Mail)

Trump urges Muslim leaders to lead fight against radicalisation

US President Donald Trump has urged Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation in a major speech in Saudi Arabia. "Drive them out of this earth," he told regional leaders in Riyadh, as part of his first official trip abroad. Mr Trump blamed Iran, Saudi Arabia's rival, for instability in the region. His speech is seen as an attempted reset with Muslims after his harsh campaign rhetoric stirred concerns in the Islamic world. (BBC)

Government report: Majority of Canadians want Bill C-51 repealed

In the delicate balance between constitutional rights and additional powers for security agencies, Canadians have voted to protect their rights. Public Safety Canada released its results from their national security consultations, compiled from over 58,000 responses online as well as town halls and round tables. “A majority of stakeholders and experts called for existing [measures] to be scaled back or repealed completely, particularly Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015,” the report reads. (Global) (CBC)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International) 

Legal Aid Ontario to suspend some refugee services July 1

A good chunk of the legal aid services for refugees will be suspended starting on July 1 as Legal Aid Ontario struggles to find 40 per cent in budget savings from serving the vulnerable group. It is too early to confirm what services would be cut from the refugee law program as a province-wide consultation is set to begin on Thursday, but three options are under consideration: (Toronto Star)

These Syrian newcomers say they have ‘no excuse’ to miss their English classes

For a group of Syrian newcomers at a Mississauga apartment complex, English language training is delivered at their doorstep. “You have no excuse not to show up for the classes,” said Fedaa Laflouf, a native from Homs, who was sponsored to Canada with her husband and four children by the federal government last October via Lebanon. Since January, the 42-year-old woman has been attending English classes in the basement of her apartment building on Mississauga Valley Blvd., near Burnhamthorpe Rd., at the hub of the newly arrived Syrian refugee community. (

Despite struggles, many Syrian refugees’ businesses are gaining traction

Mohammad Alftih fled his war-torn hometown of Aleppo, Syria, with his wife and four children, living in Lebanon before coming to Canada under private sponsorship. Eleven months after the Alftihs arrived in Peterborough, Ont., they opened a new restaurant downtown. Mr. Alftih brings his experience operating two businesses in Syria to his new role as general manager of Oasis Mediterranean Grill. His wife, Randa, cooks Syrian dishes, and the couple has hired four employees. (Globe and Mail)

Canadians increasingly comfortable with diversity: survey

A new survey suggests Canadians are growing increasingly comfortable with cultural diversity — and that Ottawa is the country’s most welcoming big city for newcomers. The poll, conducted by Montreal’s Leger Marketing, found that Canadians expressed more positive views about indigenous people, Muslims and Jews in 2017 than in 2013. (Ottawa Citizen)

O’Leary support base split on Bernier, officials say

Only days before Conservatives name their new leader, an informal survey of local party officials from across the country suggests former backers of erstwhile leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary aren’t necessarily voting for front-runner Maxime Bernier. The Globe and Mail spoke to dozens of Conservative riding-association presidents and long-time members in recent weeks to gauge how the grassroots is planning to vote in the lead-up to the May 27 leadership unveiling in Toronto. (Globe and Mail)

RCMP and China strike deal to combat opioid smuggling

The RCMP and China’s Ministry of Public Security have recently struck a formal agreement to share intelligence aimed at stopping the flow of fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids into Canada. China is the No. 1 global source of fentanyl because that country’s vast chemical and pharmaceutical industries are loosely regulated and poorly monitored. Many pharmaceutical facilities also operate there illegally, producing the dangerous drug and shipping it into North America. (Globe and Mail)

Canada, 10 other countries to move forward on new TPP after U.S. withdrawal

Canada and 10 other countries agreed this weekend to re-evaluate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the controversial trade deal that has been assumed dead since the U.S. pulled out in January. However a Canadian group opposed to the TPP says the deal should not be revived. Trade officials said the deal would change significantly without American involvement, although leaders from the 11 remaining countries are still figuring out what a revised trade plan would look like. (CTV)

Post-war convention on refugees buckling under current crises, says Lloyd Axworthy

Strained by unprecedented levels of displacement, the international system created to protect refugees has buckled and is failing the world's most vulnerable people, says Canada's former minister of immigration, Lloyd Axworthy. In the aftermath of the Second World War, as tens of millions Europeans fled their homes and the world's worst refugee crisis was then high on the international agenda, Western powers established a set of rules to protect the inalienable rights of those displaced by war. (CBC)

Canada's former spymaster says 'decent chance' of Trump-Comey tapes

Richard Fadden, who directed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for five years ending in 2013, is confident his one-time U.S. counterpart will be the man to clear Trump of any wrongdoing in the presidential race, or prove otherwise, in what has so far been a war of words between the administration and its detractors. (CTV)

Magnitsky bill advances with a strongly Ukrainian flavour

The "Magnitsky Law" is a piece of Canadian legislation, not yet enacted, that seeks to hold governments and individuals to account for human rights abuses. It's named after Russian businessman Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail in 2009 after accusing officials of tax fraud. It could help to bring sanctions to other rights abusers in other countries. (CBC)

Undocumented immigrant arrests up 20 percent in NJ; deportations up 30 percent

Immigration arrests are up 20 percent and deportations have increased 30 percent in New Jersey over the past year as enforcement officers nationwide work to fulfill the president’s promise to crack down on illegal immigration. But John Tsoukaris, the head of immigration enforcement in New Jersey, said most undocumented immigrants in the state don't need to be afraid because his officers are focusing on those who have committed serious crimes or have deportation orders against them. (North Jersey)

Trump crackdown has US Latinos too scared to spend

Before Donald Trump was elected US president, Eulalio Vasquez was doing a good job of living the American dream. A native of the Dominican Republic, he arrived in New York aged 18, worked in a supermarket, a Nabisco factory and ultimately found a commercial niche lifting the spirits of his fellow immigrants in the south Bronx.) (

US ambassador assures Syrian refugees more help is coming

His skull and jaw wrapped in bandages, the young Syrian refugee stared nonchalantly into a small black box at a supermarket in this sprawling, dust-swept refugee camp. The box scanned his iris to identify him, charged his account and sent him on his way. If the boy noticed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley watching intently from just a few feet away, he didn't show it. But Haley would later tout the iris-scanners as a fraud-cutting tool boosting efficiency for the more than $6.5 billion the U.S. has spent helping those whose lives have been upended by Syria's harrowing civil war. (Metro)

South Africans trapped ‘like frogs in boiling water’ as racial violence escalates

As of 2015, the UN body had about 112,000 registered refugees in South Africa, the majority from Somalia, the Congo and Ethiopia, with 899 resettlement submissions made in that year. For those wishing to come to Australia, the only other option is under the special humanitarian program, which requires a sponsor already here to apply on their behalf. (

Donald Trump Arrives in Israel, Will Push Peace Process

President Donald Trump arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday, hoping to help push forward what he's described as the "ultimate deal" — peace between Israelis and Palestinians. "Welcome, our good friend," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said while greeting Trump after he stepped off Air Force One. Despite the formality of the occasion, Netanyahu and Trump swapped banter on the red carpet. (NBC)

Revealed: Facebook's internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence

Facebook’s secret rules and guidelines for deciding what its 2 billion users can post on the site are revealed for the first time in a Guardian investigation that will fuel the global debate about the role and ethics of the social media giant. The Guardian has seen more than 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts that give unprecedented insight into the blueprints Facebook has used to moderate issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm. (Guardian)

Venezuela protests: Man set alight as death toll rises

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has accused opposition protesters of setting alight a government supporter in Caracas on the 50th day of protests. Orlando José Figuera suffered burns to 80% of his body after he was engulfed in flames. Officials said he was also stabbed in Saturday's protests. Witnesses said the crowd had accused the man of being a thief. On the same day, an opposition activist was shot dead, bringing the total number killed in recent protests to 48. (BBC)

Donald Trump should worry about another 9/11 rather than making claims about Iran, says Tehran

Donald Trump should spend his time usefully in Riyadh by discussing how to avoid his Saudi hosts carrying out another 9/11 atrocity in the US instead of making baseless claims of terrorism against other countries, Iran’s foreign minister has advised. (

North Korea fires off 'unspecified missile' into Sea of Japan as South condemns "irresponsible and reckless behaviour"

North Korea has fired an 'unspecified missile' in a latest act of aggression, according to military sources. A South Korean news agency are claiming that the projectile took off from a location near Pukchang. However, NHK News, a Japanese new agency, claims the missile 'fell into the Sea of Japan'. (

Kim Jong-un vows to ‘MASS-PRODUCE missiles’ after observing North Korea’s successful test

After watching the launch of the new Pukguksong-2 missile, the North Korean dictator was reportedly satisfied with its accuracy and branded it a “successful strategic weapon”, according to state-run media outlet KCNA. After the second missile launch in less than a week, KCNA reported: "Saying with pride that the missile's rate of hits is very accurate and Pukguksong-2 is a successful strategic weapon, [Kim Jong-un] approved the deployment of this weapon system for action. (

Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations

The Chinese government systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward. Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved. (New York Times)

Isis tests chemical weapons on 'human guinea pigs', secret documents reveal

Isis are conducting chemical weapons experiments on "human guinea pigs" before launching attacks on Western targets, according to secret documents.  The extremist group has reportedly poisoned prisoners by spiking their food and water with compounds used in pesticides that are easy to obtain (



Candice Malcolm: Get ready for Trudeau’s carbon tax on everything

The Trudeau Liberals are moving forward with their national carbon tax scheme, or, what Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall calls “one of the largest tax increases in Canadian history.” In typical governing fashion, the Liberals are trying to downplay the devastating economic consequences of the tax. They’re trying to disguise the very fact that this is a tax hike. (Toronto Sun)

Anthony Furey: Political correctness used to be a joke, now it’s downright scary

You never know what’s going to be deemed off limits by the social justice brigade next. Slut-shaming, victim blaming, cisgender patriarchy ... you could make a whole Billy Joel song from just sounding off all of the fictitious neuroses that are already a big no-no. (Toronto Sun)

Andrew Coyne: The federal carbon tax has become unnecessarily costly

The case for the carbon tax was very much tied to its simplicity: a uniform national tax, applied economy-wide, based on the carbon content of every good and service. Where regulations encourage compliance up to the level required and no further; where subsidies often pay people to do what they would have done anyway; and where both apply only to those activities it occurs to the planners to apply them to, a carbon tax gives everyone a permanent incentive to reduce emissions, by whatever means they can devise, so far as it still costs less to do so than to pay the tax. (National Post)

Lorne Gunter: Get ready for National Energy Program, the sequel

He’s a Trudeau. He can’t help himself. The federal Liberals have made two moves in the past week that leave the impression they are trying to centralize control over energy policy in Ottawa and away from the provinces (who have authority over natural resources under the constitution). (Toronto Sun)

John Ivison: Chrystia Freeland’s homespun take as Trudeau’s Minister for Everywhere

It was a short newscast indeed that did not feature Canada’s new global affairs minister this week. On Thursday alone, Chrystia Freeland issued a statement saying the government was reviewing the purchase of Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets in light of the company’s trade dispute with Bombardier; another supporting a bill imposing sanctions on human rights violators; a third recognizing that the U.S. intends to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement; and a fourth, decrying the deportation of Crimean Tatars 73 years ago. (National Post)

Farzana Hassan: South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis worsens

The civil war in South Sudan is arguably as bloody and catastrophic as the one in Syria. The story there is one of displacement, famine, rape and genocide. This is true of the war in Yemen as well, where countless people face unrelenting warfare and starvation. Yemen has become Saudi Arabia’s war on innocents, to further its criminal sectarian agenda for control and influence in the region. (Toronto Sun)



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