True North Initiative: News Scan 07 20 17


Liberals say Conservatives’ Khadr campaign could impact NAFTA talks

Senior Liberals are suggesting the federal Conservatives’ cross-border campaign against the Trudeau government’s $10.5-million payout to Omar Khadr could affect trade talks with the Trump administration. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, both used social media to connect the Conservatives’ condemnation of the Khadr payment with the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement, set to start on Aug. 16 in Washington. The Conservatives, however, say any backlash in the United States resulting from the apology and settlement with Mr. Khadr, a former inmate at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is Mr. Trudeau’s responsibility. (Globe and Mail)

Canadian Government revokes group’s charity status, audit cites possible funding of Pakistani militants

Federal regulators have revoked the charity status of a Canadian Islamic organization after an audit uncovered problems including tax receipts that were issued for donations to a Pakistani group linked to armed militancy. ISNA Islamic Services of Canada was stripped of its charitable status for “non-compliance,” according to records obtained by Global News. Authorities also revoked a related charity, the Canadian Islamic Trust Foundation. (Global)

Support from opposition MPs 'great boost,' says Vegreville mayor

The mayor of Vegreville, Alta. says he's been given new energy in his battle with the Liberal government over the planned closure of an immigration and refugee processing centre. Conservative and NDP MPs have pledged to unite in their efforts to aid Mayor Myron Hayduk's cause. The federal government plans to move the centre from Vegreville to Edmonton in 2018. (CBC)

The US has introduced new security measures for those flying from Mexico or Canada.

The measures, which started on 19 July, include enhanced overall passenger screening, heightened screening of personal electronic devices, increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas, and the use of advanced technology, expanded canine screening and the establishment of additional pre-clearance locations. (Independent) (Vancouver Courier)

Longtime U.S. Senator John McCain has brain tumour: Doctors

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, Vietnam prisoner of war and political maverick in Congress for more than three decades, has been diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain tumour. The 80-year-old Arizona lawmaker has glioblastoma, according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, where McCain had a blood clot removed from above his left eye last Friday. He and his family are considering further treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation. (Toronto Sun)

Future Governor General Julie Payette involved in fatal collision months before assault charge in Maryland

In one of those terrible twists of fate where a second here or there would make a difference, two women — one a decorated Canadian astronaut with the world by the tail, the other a troubled addict just turning her life around — crossed paths on a busy stretch of road just before sundown. The impact from the SUV Julie Payette was driving in the summer of 2011 hurled Theresa “Terry” Potts forward into an intersection, southbound on Point Lookout Rd. in July 2011. The water bottle Potts, 55, was carrying skittered along the road; her watch was ripped loose by the impact, and clumps of her hair were stuck to the crumpled windshield. She died in hospital later that Sunday night. Maryland State Police chopper made an emergency run to get her there. (Toronto Star)

Ottawa hires consultants to advise on airport sell-offs

A secretive project to generate billions of dollars from the sale of major Canadian airports is pushing ahead with the hiring of consultant firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The firm is to "act as a commercial adviser assisting with additional analytical work with respect to advancing a new governance framework for one or more Canadian airports." (CBC)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Winnipeg Yazidi refugee learns her 12-year-old son is alive after rescue from ISIS

A Winnipeg mother, a Yazidi refugee, is astonished to discover her 12-year-old son is alive after being rescued from ISIS. Nofa Zaghla, from northern Iraq, says her family was separated in August 2014 when they were captured by ISIS. She came to Canada five months ago with four of her six children. Days ago, she got a call from a relative in Iraq who said her son Emad Mishko Tamo is alive after being rescued from the Islamist extremists. (CBC) (CTV)

Canadian special forces tasked with buying weapons for Kurds

Canadian special forces have taken over the process of purchasing weapons for the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region in line with a promise made by Canadian prime minister last year to assist the Kurdish troops. “There is no standard, pre-determined process or timeline for an equipment acquisition of this complexity,” read a statement from the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, as reported by the National Post. (RUDAW)

New documents on Trudeau’s Bahamas trip raise fresh questions on long-running ethics investigation

Government officials at the Privy Council Office struggled with the complexity of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Christmas vacation to the Bahamas, according to newly released documents. That complexity may have added to the costs of the trip and may be contributing to what has become a lengthy investigation into the trip by the House of Commons ethics commissioner. (Global)

Andrew Scheer to unveil 'regional, gender diverse' House leadership team Thursday

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer will unveil his House leadership team tomorrow in Ottawa, and at least two familiar faces will be given senior posts, CBC News has learned. Scheer will present a "regionally and gender diverse team," but he will be partially hampered by the fact the party returned no MPs in either Atlantic Canada or the North in the 2015 election. Eighteen of the 99 Tories elected are women, or roughly 18 per cent of the caucus. (CBC)

Supreme Court building to get $1B rehab in 2023, well after systems risk failure

The Liberal government has launched a $1-billion project to rehabilitate the crumbling Supreme Court building, though key systems are at risk of failure long before any repairs begin. A water-damaged section of the parking garage roof could collapse by the end of next year, and mechanical and electrical systems are predicted to fail by 2020 and 2021, says an internal document obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act. (CBC)

PM 'happy' to share Canada's NAFTA negotiating strategy with opposition parties

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he's willing to fill opposition parties in on Canada's strategy as it heads into trilateral negotiations next month with the U.S. and Mexico on a new North American Free Trade Agreement. Trudeau made the promise Wednesday as the U.S. announced that the first round of NAFTA negotiations will take place Aug. 16-20 in Washington, D.C. (Times Colonist)

Tax changes would hurt profitable businesses, opponents warn Ottawa

Opposition is quickly growing to proposed federal tax changes, as lawyers, accountants and major lobby groups are warning that profitable private corporations of all sizes stand to be negatively affected by new taxes on their investment portfolios. Finance Minister Bill Morneau released proposals this week to close loopholes that are increasingly in use by high-income Canadians to lower their tax bills through the use of private corporations. The measure that grabbed the most attention was draft legislation to prevent professionals, such as doctors, from “sprinkling” income to their spouses and adult children in lower tax brackets. (Globe and Mail)

Brian Pallister pushes premiers to delay legalization of pot by 1 year

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is rallying support among his provincial and territorial counterparts to demand the federal government hit the brakes on its plan to legalize pot. Pallister, who is attending the Council of the Federation meetings in Edmonton, said there are questions that must be answered before the "historic change" is brought into force. He wants to delay the implementation by one year. (CBC)

Governor General defends China visit amid Nobel peace laureate's death

As Gov. Gen. David Johnston prepares to end his service as the Queen’s representative in Canada, he took a moment to defend his goodwill mission to China earlier this month. During a candid one-on-one interview with CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian in London on Wednesday, the outgoing Governor General discussed his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, on the same day Nobel Peace Laureate and democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo died in Chinese custody. (CTV)

Trump's 'influential' pick for ambassador to Canada faces Senate hearing

U.S. President Donald Trump's pick for the next ambassador to Canada, a deep-pocketed Republican donor with influential allies in Congress and family ties with a Kentucky coal empire, faces her Senate confirmation hearing Thursday. Kelly Knight Craft will testify before the Senate committee on foreign relations in a joint session with Trump's nominees for ambassador to NATO and the U.K. (CBC)

Canada now No. 2 emigration destination for China’s rich: report

Canada overtook the U.K. for the first time to become the second top emigration destination for China’s rich, according to a well-known poll of the country’s high net worth individuals. The U.S. remains No.1 choice, but “overall, U.S. cities have seen a fall in favour since the Trump presidency,” according to the annual survey, which was carried out by Hurun Report, a Shanghai-based research group, in association with Visas Consulting Group, a legal service for emigres. (Global)

Attacks worldwide fell again in 2016, says US State Department

The number of terrorist attacks worldwide and deaths from such attacks dropped in 2016 for the second straight year, driven by decreases in Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen, the US State Department said on Wednesday. The total number of terrorist attacks in 2016 dropped 9 per cent compared to 2015, while fatalities caused by the attacks fell 13 per cent, the department said in a report on global terrorism. That was in spite of a series of high-profile attacks in Europe. (SCMP)

ISIS terrorists fleeing to their home countries WANT to be sent to prison so they can convert them into ‘jihadi universities’, report warns

With ISIS on the brink of being flushed out of Iraq and Syria, experts suggest militants returning to the West may want to be sent to prison where they can set up what is being described as jihadi universities to spark a new movement. It is also predicted Islamic State could then re-emerge from the ashes under a new name and with a fresh army of brainwashed jihadis once the group is effectively destroyed in the Middle East. (Daily Mail)


The U.S.-led coalition's campaign against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) under President Donald Trump is on track to cause double the civilian casualties than the operations of his predecessor Barack Obama, according to new analysis. Monitoring group Airwars, in new figures provided to The Daily Beast, estimated that the coalition killed over 2,200 civilians in ISIS-held territory in Iraq and Syria between Trump's inauguration on January 20 and July 13. This represents more than 360 civilian deaths a month and at least 12 a day since Trump entered the White House. (Newsweek)

Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as strike action begins

The head of the Organization of American States (OAS) has warned of a "calamitous deterioration" of the situation in Venezuela. "The fear we have, and which we are afraid to say out loud, is that this situation could turn into a bloodbath," he said. The warning came shortly before a 24-hour strike began on Thursday. (BBC)

Laptop ban: US lifts restrictions on Saudi Arabian flights

The ban on laptops in cabins of direct flights from Saudi Arabia to the United States has been lifted according to Saudi Arabian Airlines. It says two hub airports which serve the US have received clearance from the US Department of Homeland Security. Riyadh's King Khalid airport is the last of 10 airports to be exempted from the ban. (BBC)

Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow

President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials. The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later. (Washington Post)

Palestinian Authority’s 2017 Budget Shows ‘Huge Increase’ in Funding for Terror Payments

The Palestinian Authority’s 2017 budget shows a “huge increase” in the funding of salaries for imprisoned terrorists and the families of “martyrs,” an Israeli research institute revealed on Wednesday. According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the amount of money allocated by the PA for payments to terrorists jailed in Israel rose 13% this year to $158 million — compared to $135 million in 2016. During the same time frame, disbursements for family members of dead terrorists increased by 4% — to $197 million from $183 million. (Algemeiner)



Candice Malcolm: We don’t hate Muslims, we condemn terrorists

Most Canadians understand the difference between peaceful Muslims and the radicalized sub-section of Muslims who join violent jihad. It’s important to draw this distinction and to point out that most Muslims in Canada are not violent, nor do they support terrorism or condone violence. In other words, most Muslims in Canada are not like Omar Khadr. (Toronto Sun)

Ezra Levant: Liberals panic as news of $10.5M Omar Khadr payoff hits U.S.

I’m sure Trudeau and his handlers did not expect the national fury that erupted after Canadians learned the details of his $10.5 million payoff to convicted, confessed terrorist Omar Khadr. According to one poll, 71 per cent of Canadians are against the payment, including a majority of every political stripe. (Rebel)

Robyn Urback: Trudeau's silence on Payette's expunged assault charge shows double standard

Until artificial intelligence progresses to the point where intelligent machines take over our Westminster system (yes, I'm scared, too), we will continue to appoint flawed humans to important government posts. Some of these people will come with pasts more fraught than others, but show me a closet without a skeleton and chances are there's a rug nearby with an ugly lump. (CBC)

Lorrie Goldstein: Trudeau had numerous defences in Khadr lawsuit

The more Prime Minister Justin Trudeau argues he had no choice but to give Omar Khadr $10.5 million of taxpayers’ money and an apology, the less convincing he sounds. Let’s look at the facts, as opposed to Trudeau’s rhetoric it could have cost the government up to $40 million had Khadr’s $20 million civil suit gone to trial. (Toronto Sun)

Sue-Ann Levy: Stepgate shows City Hall reality check needed

So it seems Stepgate does indeed have legs. Which would you prefer: A series of 10 wood steps built to the Ontario Building Code, with legal railings and set-in concrete footings warrantied for at least two years, courtesy of a private contractor for $3,000? (Toronto Sun)

Gerry Nicholls: Trudeau, the media and the kumquat principle

If you’re wondering why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enjoys so much favourable media coverage, the answer can be found in the “Kumquat Principle of Political Publicity.” This totally scientific principle (which I made up about five minutes ago) states (Calgary Sun)


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