True North Initiative: News Scan 08 14 17


Border services overwhelmed as Haitians continue to seek asylum in Quebec

The Canada Border Services Agency is warning Haitians walking across the border to Quebec that illegally crossing the border is not a free pass into Canada. Speaking to reporters in Lacolle Friday afternoon, Patrick Lefort, the Agency’s regional director general for Quebec noted that Canada has “rigourous rules concerning immigration” and that they will be applied. (Global)

Nearly 2,500 asylum seekers housed in Montreal, government figures show

There were 2,440 asylum seekers temporarily housed in Montreal as of Thursday, according to the most recent statistics released by the government on Friday. The Quebec government’s immigration department website has been compiling daily statistics as the flow of asylum seekers continues across the border from the United States. (Montreal Gazette)

As many as 1,200 asylum seekers wait to be processed at Lacolle border crossing

With waves of migrants fleeing the United States, the Canada Border Services Agency says that as many as 1,200 asylum seekers are waiting to be processed at the border crossing in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. Patrick Lefort, the CBSA regional director general for Quebec, said Lacolle border agents can process up to 230 migrants per day. "It's a very demanding humanitarian operation," said Lefort, adding that staff has been brought in from all over the country to handle the growing number of asylum seekers showing up at the Lacolle border crossing. (CBC)

'No guarantees' asylum seekers will get refugee status, Quebec premier points out

In an attempt to assuage concerns about asylum seekers, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says there are "no guarantees" the people who have recently been crossing the Canada-U.S. border in droves will be granted refugee status. In a statement posted to his Facebook page Friday night, Couillard attempted to provide clarifications about the influx of people showing up at an illegal border crossing near Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. and how the government is handling it. (CBC) (CTV)

RCMP shortages leave Mounties in 'crisis': officers

A significant shortage of RCMP officers is raising concerns about their safety and the safety of the communities in which they work, according to several Mounties speaking out from across Canada. With more than 12 per cent of positions unfilled, RCMP members, speaking on the record and on background, tell that they're worried about the number of vacancies. The lack of front-line officers is leading to stress, burnout and even to departures for other police forces, these members say. (CTV)

Canada builds Haitian refugee border camp but processing may lead to months of legal limbo

Along the US-Canada border, a tent camp has been constructed by the Canadian military to house and shelter a stream of mostly Haitian refugees fleeing from the United States for fear that Donald Trump will order their deportations. Just north of an unfenced section of the friendly border that runs between Quebec and New York State, an uptick in crossings has been noticed recently, with as many as 250 refugees arriving on foot a day. But, while the tent camp is seen as a humane response to a growing problem, the refugees are still marching north to what will likely be months waiting in legal limbo for their cases to be heard. (

Dedicated immigration team formed amid stream of asylum seekers crossing Quebec border

The prospect of growing camps of migrants on the Quebec-New York border prompted Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board to exclusively dedicate 20 of its members Friday to the handling of their sudden barrage of asylum claims. The agency had been watching carefully the flow of would-be refugees into the province, but it was a sudden recent spike in arrivals that prompted more aggressive action, said Shereen Benzvy Miller, the head of the refugee protection division. (Toronto Star)

Driver in alleged Charlottesville car attack ID'd as James Alex Fields

The driver who allegedly plowed into counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville has been identified as James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio man.  Both the Charlottesville police and Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail Superintendent Col. Martin Kumer confirmed his identity. The deceased victim was a 32-year-old woman who was crossing the street at the time, Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said Saturday night, adding that police were still in the process of notifying the next of kin. (CBS)

Trump condemns 'hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides' in Charlottesville

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides," Trump said during a short statement from his private golf club in New Jersey. "It has been going on for a long time in our country -- not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America." (CNN)

Justin Trudeau Says 'Canada Isn't Immune' After White Supremacist Rally In U.S.

Canada is not immune to the type of racism and hatred that led to three deaths in Charlottesville, Va., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday. Trudeau did not make an official statement about the deadly clashes between white supremacist activists and anti-fascist protesters, but took to Twitter to condemn the "racist violence." (Huffington Post)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Asylum seekers at Canada border unfazed by tents, months of uncertainty

Asylum seekers, mainly from Haiti, clambering over a gully from upstate New York into Canada on Friday were undeterred by the prospect of days in border tents, months of uncertainty and signs of a right-wing backlash in Quebec. More than 200 people a day are illegally walking across the border into Quebec to seek asylum, government officials said. Army tents have been erected near the border to house up to 500 people as they undergo security screenings. (Reuters)

Dodgy landlords taking advantage of asylum seekers, Montreal group says

A tenants' rights group in Montreal's Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood is warning of a spike in cases of landlords taking advantage of asylum seekers. Quebec's Immigration Ministry reports that more than 700 asylum seekers have recently found permanent housing as part of a recent wave of migrants arriving at Quebec's border with the United States. (CBC)

Some asylum-seekers struggling to find housing after shelters

Some of the asylum-seekers who have recently crossed the Canada-U.S. border say they're struggling to find a place to live once they leave government-run temporary shelters. Ahmed Iftikhar, 42, says he walked across the border from New York in late July with his wife and four children. Since then, he says they've been moved from one temporary shelter to another: first a hotel, then the Olympic Stadium, and now a former convent in the city's Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough. Asylum-seekers are generally expected to leave the shelters once they receive their first social assistance cheques, but several who spoke to The Canadian Press say that's easier said than done. (CTV)

Couillard calls on Quebecers to treat asylum seekers with respect

Premier Philippe Couillard is calling on Quebecers to be respectful and compassionate with regards to the influx of asylum seekers arriving in Quebec this summer. In a post on social media, Couillard said the people crossing the border are "asylum seekers, and they are not 'migrants' or 'illegal immigrants.'" He said they are being handled according to federal law, with the assistance of Quebec officials. (CTV)

Parti Québécois wants to nix Safe Third Country Agreement amid asylum seeker boom

The leader of the Parti Québécois is calling for the suspension of the Safe Third Country Agreement amid a surge of asylum seekers arriving at illegal border crossings into Quebec. Under the agreement, the majority of migrants coming from the United States who make an asylum claim at an official border checkpoint in Canada are denied entry since the U.S. is deemed to be safe. (CBC)

Recent visa changes could make Whistler worker shortage even worse

Aussies Arvid Finlayson and Amanda Larkins are both employed at a popular Whistler bar where 90 per cent of the workforce is from Australia but their working holiday will soon come to an end. “Yeah, I’ll have to head home within the next few months”, said Finlayson, a bartender. “That’s it. We can’t extend it anymore now as opposed to people that we’ve met here that have extended it like twice” added Larkins, a server. (Global)

'Common sense has left the building,' immigration lawyer says

Young Irish immigrants say they're frustrated and astounded at a federal government policy that insists they pass a test to prove they can speak proper English before gaining permanent resident status — a necessary step along the way to Canadian citizenship. "Common sense has left the building," immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann told CBC Toronto last week. He's calling on the federal government to exempt applicants for permanent resident status who come from countries where English is an official language. (CBC)

Paralegal found guilty of defrauding immigrants ‘appears to be on the run’

A Toronto paralegal has been found guilty by the legal profession’s watchdog of defrauding clients of over $1 million and providing immigration services for which he was not licensed. Victor Manuel Castillo Garcia, who was licensed as a paralegal by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2010, worked with clients from around the world — including Taiwan, Cuba, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Peru — for their permanent residence and work permit applications. (Toronto Star)

Chrystia Freeland plans to sell Canadians on the need for a new trade deal with U.S., Mexico

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on Monday will make the case as to why a modernized trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico — containing enhanced protections for labour and the environment — is vital for Canada’s continuing economic success. Freeland will use two appearances — first in a speech at the University of Ottawa and later before a parliamentary committee — to sketch out the broad strokes of Canada’s principles for the negotiations that begin later in the week for a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). (Toronto Star)

Small business owners say they are unfairly targeted by proposed tax changes

Don Paton spends most of his days pricing new jobs around the factories and industrial sites of Hamilton, or in hands-on work making the electrical connections for the cranes his company installs and repairs. The rest of his time he spends at a computer, usually tackling administrative work for his business, Ontario Crane Service. But last week he sat down to give Bill Morneau, Canada's finance minister, a piece of his mind. (CBC)

House conducting investigation of sexual harassment allegations against rookie Alberta Liberal MP Kang

The House chief human resources officer Pierre Parent is conducting an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against rookie Liberal MP Darshan Kang, the Chief Government Whip’s Office confirmed Friday. “We were made aware of the allegations and referred them, as per the House of Commons process, to the chief human resources officer,” said Charles-Eric Lepine, chief of staff to Chief Government Whip Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, Que.), in an email to The Hill Times. (Hill Times)

Trudeau’s atypical media exposure pushed by ‘most image-conscious PMO in Canadian history’

From Rolling Stone magazine to CBS Sports, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes a point of engaging beyond the usual media suspects covering Canadian politics, and it’s all part of a media strategy of what is considered the most image-conscious, communications-driven Prime Minister’s Office ever, say strategists. (Hill Times)

Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim gives first address after his release from North Korea

He spent the past 2 1/2 years digging holes in North Korea’s frozen mud in the depths of winter and working for eight hours straight under the scorching sun in spring and summer, newly-released Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim told a standing-room-only crowd at Mississauga’s Light Presbyterian Church Sunday. (Toronto Sun)

North Korea crisis: South's leader in plea to avoid war

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called on his US allies to help prevent a war, amid worsening tension over the North's nuclear threat. Mr Moon told the visiting top US military official that there must be a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Gen Joseph Dunford said the US priority was diplomacy but added that military options were being prepared should sanctions against the North fail. (BBC)

Britain ‘falling behind’ on counter-terrorism as EU links loosened

Britain needs to urgently clarify its position on security issues, senior European commission officials have warned, or risk missing out on vital new counter-terrorism tools. The commission has been revamping systems to identify who is crossing borders into the EU, and help dismantle cells that are financing jihadist networks, tackle terrorists who use fake identities and upgrade Europol. (Guardian)

These Are The Western Fighters Who Volunteered To Fight Against ISIS

The 28-year-old California Bay Area native first joined the US Marines, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then he joined the French Foreign Legion to broaden his horizons but eventually “got tired of scrubbing toilets.” Now Howard, with a pasty white complexion, blond hair, and body art across his arms and face, is fighting on the front lines against ISIS in northern Syria on behalf of the Kurds, Christians, and Yazidi minority he befriended while he was deployed to the Middle East. (Buzzfeed)

Intelligence Suggests Senator Rubio Targeted for Assassination

Senator Marco Rubio may be a target of a death order by a Venezuelan politician he's been feuding with, according to U.S. intelligence. A former Venezuelan military leader and current lawmaker of the Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, reportedly gave the order to have Rubio killed. The senator has been protected by a security detail while in Washington and Miami. (PJ Media)

Burkina Faso terror attack kills 20, government says

Twenty people have been killed and a number wounded in a "terrorist attack" in the centre of the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, the government says. Gunmen opened fire on customers seated outside a restaurant, witnesses said. One Turkish citizen died but other nationalities are yet to be confirmed. (BBC)



Candice Malcolm: If Trudeau wants to stop illegal migration, he should take a page from Trump's playbook

Justin Trudeau could learn a thing or two from Donald Trump when it comes to handling the crisis of illegal immigration along our southern border. It may seem counterproductive, since Trump is so widely criticized for his blunt, often crass and downright discriminatory attitude towards immigrants and foreigners. But despite his negative tone and rhetoric, which is admittedly unhelpful, Trump is undeniably doing exactly what he said he was going to do. (Toronto Sun)

Anthony Furey: Relax everyone, plans to strike North Korea have existed for decades

For decades the U.S. military has had an open secret known as OPLAN 5027. It’s a plan to take out North Korea. Bombard their arsenal. Devastate Pyongyang. Take out the top leaders. The plan has changed over the years, but the big picture is the same: If they mess with the U.S. or South Korea – the U.S. will seriously mess with them. This is why everyone needs to stop freaking out over President Donald Trump’s recent tweets about North Korea. He's just being a responsible commander-in-chief. (Toronto Sun)

Adnan Khan: Canada’s immigration system is no kinder than America’s

The Liberal government endlessly props up its humanitarian credentials. From gender rights to refugee policy, it has tried to project itself as a world leader and Canada as an immigrants’ wonderland. No doubt, Canadians do have something to be proud of: Canada is proving to the world that a diverse society can also be a harmonious society. But that harmony is engineered. When you look more closely at the statistics, Canada is nowhere near the humanitarian ideal it claims to uphold. (Macleans)

Douglas Todd: Canada struggling to 'absorb' immigrants, internal report says

There’s nothing like a dispute over words to get Canadians to pay attention – and in this case that might not be a bad thing. This month Manitoba responded to two complaints by barring a driver from continuing to use his two-year-old licence plate “ASIMIL8.” The word “assimilate” has been used to describe the process by which Indigenous people and immigrants could mix into the larger culture. Some Canadians consider it offensive, arguing it doesn’t allow room for cultural differences. (National Post)

Joe Oliver: Canada’s open borders and sanctuary cities defy common sense

Doing what we believe is right can make us feel morally superior. For example, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau virtue-signalled the surge in undocumented refugees crossing our border from the U.S. since President Trump announced his tough stand on ‘illegal aliens’. However, the numbers could explode, since over 400,000 American residents may soon lose their Temporary Protected Status and millions are without any legal protection. So sometimes, feel-good policies defy common sense. (Toronto Sun)

Terry Glavin: Ethnic discrimination, warlords, rising terrorism suggest raise doubts about the mission

It’s a bitter pill that Afghanistan’s ethnic minorities find themselves increasingly obliged to swallow: marginalization from the political mainstream and an upswing in suicide-bomb atrocities and massacres that the Pashtun-dominated government stands accused of either ignoring or addressing with indifference and incompetence. (LF Press)

Chris Selley: More Quebecers are speaking French. Naturally, the PQ sees this as a crisis

The 2016 census data on language, released last week, offer good news for Quebec’s language guardians. The number of of residents who claim knowledge of French rose, albeit minutely, to 94.5 per cent, and the number who don’t speak French fell slightly as well: just 4.6 per cent claimed knowledge of English only, and 0.9 per cent knowledge of neither English nor French. (National Post)

Shenaz Kermalli: How many more Saudi videos does Ottawa need to see?

How many more harrowing photos and videos do we need to see before Ottawa decides to stop arming a terrorist state? Will the death of a three-year-old boy fired at by Saudi police – whereby a bullet penetrated his waist and exited his body – be the deal breaker? What about the fact that 30 other unarmed civilians including women and children were also injured that same day? (Globe and Mail)

Phil Gurski: What have we learned from the Aaron Driver case one year later?

A year ago, Canada dodged a terrorist bullet when the almost 25-year old Muslim convert Aaron Driver, pictured, climbed into a cab outside his sister’s home in Strathroy, Ont., a small town not quite 40 kilometres from London, set off an explosive device that didn’t do a lot of damage to either himself or the taxi, and was killed probably by police gunfire when he exited the vehicle in possession of a second bomb. (Hill Times)



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