True North Initiative: News Scan 07 31 17


Syrian refugees rejected because of links to group that opposes brutal Assad regime

Hooked to an artificial respirator, Khaldoun Senjab has been identified by the United Nations as a Syrian refugee for priority resettlement. A Canadian official who interviewed the computer systems programmer in Lebanon last year noted on the refugee sponsorship application for Senjab, his wife and two children: “Beautiful family that will settle well.” That’s why the family was shocked to receive a rejection letter from the Canadian visa post in Beirut in April, saying Senjab was inadmissible because of his work with the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, an opposition umbrella group recognized by the United States, as well as countries in the Middle East and Europe, as Syria’s legitimate representative. (Toronto Star)

Iraqi man claimed refugee status after crossing into Canada illegally

An Iraqi man who illegally crossed the US border into Abbotsford last week turned himself in to police in an apparent bid to gain refugee status in Canada. The 31-year-old approached a local man on the 700-block of Lefeuvre Road around 6 p.m. on Friday, July 21. He identified himself as a refugee and asked the local worker to call police, who responded and detained the man, Const. Ian MacDonald said. (Abbotsford News)

'Our work is not done': Canadian troops help secure Mosul as future battles loom

Iraqi security forces and its allies, including Canada, are helping secure Mosul after liberating it from Daesh, even as future battles loom to root extremists from other Iraqi cities. And while it’s not known yet whether Canadian special operations forces soldiers — serving on an advise and assist mission to aid Iraqi and Kurdish troops — will be part of those coming operations, the acting commander of Canadian forces in the region concedes much work remains to be done to eliminate Daesh. (Metro) (Toronto Star)

Four Men Interrogated After Alleged 'Islamic Inspired' Plot To Bring Down Plane

Emergency security arrangements have been implemented at Australia's major international and domestic airports following the arrest on Saturday of four men who were allegedly plotting to bring down a plane. Khaled Merhi, Abdul Merhi, Khaled Khayat and Mahmoud Khayat are yet to be charged over the alleged bomb plot, but their time in custody has been extended. (Huffington Post) (Global)

7 dead in clashes over Venezuela's unpopular vote for new assembly

Violence marred Venezuela's controversial election on Sunday, marked by the deaths of at least seven people, as Venezuelans trickled to the polls to vote to elect a new assembly that would rewrite the country's constitution and give the government virtually unlimited powers. President Nicolas Maduro has pressed ahead with the vote despite the threat of further U.S. sanctions and four months of political upheaval, which has already left about 100 people dead and thousands injured and detained. (CBC)

EU and USA condemns 'excessive use of force' by Venezuela against protests around Sunday vote

The European Union on Monday condemned "the excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces" in Venezuela, where authorities said 10 people had been killed in clashes between anti-Maduro protesters and law enforcement. Sunday marked one of the deadliest days since massive protests started in early April in Venezuela, where voters broadly boycotted an election for a constitutional super-body sought by the unpopular President Nicolas Maduro. (Reuters) (CBS)

Inside ISIS's 'Little Britain' stronghold: Tea with the White Widow from Kent, sharing a house with the Manchester Terror Twins

Physics student Islam Mitat was a bright young woman with the world at her feet.  Aged 20, the pretty, fashion-obsessed brunette had been married for three months when her British husband, Ahmed, told her that he had a surprise for her. He said he was applying for papers that would allow her to live in the UK. Mitat was overjoyed. She couldn’t wait to start a new life with 25-year-old Ahmed, the polite, charming businessman she’d met on a dating website and who had visited her home in Morocco to ask her parents for her hand in marriage. (Daily Mail)

Iran rules out halt to missile tests as tension with US rises

A defiant Iran vowed on Saturday to press ahead with its missile programme and condemned new US sanctions, as tensions rise after the West hardened its tone against the Islamic republic. In the latest incident, Tehran and Washington accused each other's naval forces of provocative manoeuvres in the Gulf that culminated in a US helicopter firing warning flares. (Yahoo)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Esseghaier terrorism case highlights tricky collision between mental illness and extremism

Chiheb Esseghaier spent months insisting he was sane. He did it in court, screaming through a tangled beard, spitting and pounding his chest. “I am similar to the prophet Jesus and the prophet Joseph,” he howled once, explaining why he lashed out at a lawyer who suggested he might be ill. “I just throw the cup at his face because he is lying.” (National Post)

Winnipeg man uses ties to Russian Cultural Association to defraud clients: court documents

A Winnipeg man used his ties to the Russian Cultural Association of Manitoba to create an aura of legitimacy to help defraud dozens of would-be immigrants, according to court documents obtained by CBC News. Vladmir Bibilov, 56, was charged with 136 counts related to immigration fraud in December by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), in one of the largest cases of alleged immigration fraud in Manitoba's history. (CBC)

Ottawa seeks to attract foreign talent by making Start-up Visa Program permanent

The federal government is moving to entrench an immigration pilot project known as the Start-up Visa Program, which offers permanent residency to foreign entrepreneurs who agree to bring their companies to Canada. “Our government’s innovation and skills plan has identified the nurturing of entrepreneurship and the growth of startups as vitally important to Canada’s economy, making the Start-up Visa Program permanent supports this very agenda,” said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, during the announcement Friday at a small event at Ryerson University’s DMZ in Toronto, a startup business hub. (Globe and Mail)

Acacia Mining staff not being targeted in immigration crackdown: Tanzania

Tanzania is not targeting foreign employees of Acacia Mining Plc, the immigration department said, adding that the temporary detainment of one the London-listed miner’s senior staff was part of wider checks in an immigration crackdown. Gold miner Acacia said on Friday that Tanzanian authorities had prevented one of its senior staff from leaving Dar es Salaam airport. (Globe and Mail)

Federal disabilities minister 'frustrated' after family denied residency over daughter's health needs

An advocate who says it is "unfair" that an American family was denied permanent residency due to the potential costs of their daughter's health problems has found an ally in Canada's minister of persons with disabilities. The family of six moved to Canada from Colorado in 2013 and have built a business in the town of Waterhen, Man. Their work permits expire in November. (CBC)

Canadian economy's addiction to real estate fees is 'stunning,' says analyst

​Canada's addiction to real estate goes far beyond our obsession with talking about it. Our economy actually relies more on the fees associated with buying and selling houses than it does on agriculture, fishing, forestry and hunting combined. Real estate commissions, land transfer taxes, legal costs and fees for inspecting and surveying homes make up almost two per cent of Canada's economy. (CBC)

How migration wars impact Metro Vancouver's high-tech sector

Raza Mirza knows he could earn at least US$40,000 more a year south of the border. The high-tech engineer, who was recruited to Vancouver from Pakistan in 2008, has watched many of his foreign-born colleagues grab their first high-tech jobs in Metro Vancouver. But then, as soon as they can navigate the more difficult migration process into the U.S., many have moved to cities like San Francisco, Dallas and Seattle. (Vancouver Sun)

Burundians, Fleeing Political Violence, Find Welcome in Canada

In the days since six Burundian students slipped away from a robotics competition in Washington, D.C. — with at least two of them making their way across the border to Canada — many have questioned what propelled the teenagers to avoid returning home. Yet, Justine Nkurunziza is not among those who are wondering. (NY Times)

Vancouver man travelling to U.S. for TED event blocked at border

A Vancouver resident says President Donald Trump’s travel ban robbed him of a rare opportunity to participate in a TED event in New York City. Mohammed Alsaleh was one of 15 people picked from around the world to attend the Spotlight Presentation Academy, a public-speaking workshop in July, hosted by TED and Logitech.  (Metro)

'Buy America' policies to loom large as Canada gets ready for NAFTA talks

The United States wants to maintain — and even expand — the Buy America provisions that restrict government procurement to companies using materials from within its borders, while making it easier for U.S. firms to get those contracts in Canada and Mexico. The contradictory goal was among the objectives for the revamped North American Trade Agreement that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released earlier this month, suggesting the Americans want to have their cake and eat it too. (Financial Post)

Feds look into how Saudi Arabia is using Canadian-made military hardware

The federal government says it's trying to find out more about reports that Saudi Arabia is using Canadian made military vehicles in clashes with militants. An emailed statement from the government says Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is concerned and has asked officials to look into the matter. The Globe and Mail reported Friday that the Saudi government was using Canadian made armoured vehicles during six days of fighting with Shia militants. (CTV)

US Air Force unleashes supersonic bombers in ‘North Korea nuke drill’ as it’s claimed Donald Trump is ‘poised to launch military strike’ against the rogue state

Trump ‘is to order a military strike against North Korea within a year’ after Kim Jong-un’s military boasted it had fired a ballistic missile capable of hitting the US. Senior military sources in Washington have reportedly claimed Pentagon officials have laid out plans to obliterate a nuclear weapons facility operating deep within a mountain range inside the rogue state. (

North Korea: US says 'no value' in UN security council meeting

The US says it will not call for a UN Security Council meeting over North Korea's missile tests because it would produce "nothing of consequence". Such a meeting would send a message to North Korea that the international community was unwilling to challenge it, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said. (BBC)

Russia's Putin orders 755 US diplomatic staff to be cut

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that 755 staff must leave US diplomatic missions, in retaliation for new US sanctions against Moscow. The decision to cut staff was made on Friday, but Mr Putin has now confirmed the number who must go by 1 September. (BBC)

Kabul attack: Gun battle and suicide bombing in Afghan capital

Afghan security forces are battling gunmen following a suicide attack outside the Iraqi embassy in the capital, Kabul. Four attackers targeted the complex in the central Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood, the Afghan interior ministry said. A bomber blew himself up at the gate of the embassy, and three others entered the compound. No information has been provided about casualties. (BBC)



Candice Malcolm: Canadian values? We don’t mutilate women

Life in Canada is good, especially for women. Canada routinely ranks at or near the top position when it comes to the best places in the world to be a woman. Girls and women have endless opportunities in Canada, and have long held the same legal rights and protections as men. Canadian women are lucky, and that privilege should extend to all women – including newcomers. But a few recent news stories highlight the fact that cultural violence is being imported into Canada alongside immigration. (Toronto Sun)

Catherine Little: Canada’s real strength? It’s not diversity

It’s wonderful that Canada’s population is made up of a diverse mix of people who mostly get along and that everyone is encouraged to be proud of their heritages. However, missing in the discussion on diversity is the idea that many have come to Canada hoping to create a life based on their own choices – and not merely replicate all of the cultural traditions that would have been most likely had they stayed in their countries of birth. (Globe and Mail)

J.J. McCullough: The world needs to stop mindlessly fawning over Justin Trudeau

For a second, it almost seemed as though Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might be capable of getting a sentence or two of bad press in the United States. Earlier this month, news of the scandal currently consuming Trudeau's prime ministership - his decision to preemptively settle a civil suit with Canadian-born ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr for $8 million - had begun to slowly trickle into U.S. headlines. (Toronto Sun)

Jen Gerson: Americans, take it easy. Justin Trudeau is not the liberal hero you think he is.

One has brown hair, the other orange. One is effortlessly bilingual, the other horrifies editors of the Oxford English Dictionary. One openly calls himself a feminist, the other grabs female genitals. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes for a tempting contrast with President Trump. He seems like the picture of serene and right-thinking liberal mindedness compared with all of the United States’ most cartoonishly boorish elements. (Washington Post)

Holly Nicholas: Anti-Trump busybody fails to have Ontario judge disciplined for wearing MAGA t-shirt

The Ontario Judicial Council has decided not to discipline former Progressive Conservative MPP turned Superior Court Judge Toni Skarica for wearing a Trump shirt to the grocery store. It all started when Lorne Warwick and his wife spotted Skarica wearing the “Make America Great Again” shirt and wrote a complaint suggesting his apparent bias would make it impossible for the judge to be impartial. (Rebel)

Lorrie Goldstein: Al Gore's hypocrisy 'breathtaking'

Global warming guru Al Gore blew through Toronto recently on a promotional tour for An Inconvenient Sequel, the follow up to his 2006 Academy Award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth. The sequel is scheduled for general release in August, and Gore had high praise for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who briefly appears with Gore in the new film — as a key player in negotiating the 2015 Paris climate treaty. (Toronto Sun)



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